Star Wars: Return of the Jedi marked the climax of the original trilogy, with Luke facing his biggest temptation yet to go to the Dark Side.
Given the opportunity to kill Vader, his father, he refuses – and the thinking behind that moment is the subject of a new thread on Twitter than even Rian Johnson has weighed in on.
User Jonathan McIntosh wrote: “A handful of The Last Jedi haters… are offering up a fascinating misreading of the final showdown between Luke and Vader in RotJ.
“I think it’s worth taking a moment to discuss because it may help explain why these guys hate Luke’s character so much in Episode VIII.
Luke Skywalker is played by Mark Hamill in the Star Wars saga
Luke decided against killing Vader
“The misreading: Luke Skywalker uses his great warrior skills to defeat Darth Vader. Once he’s proven himself in combat and stands victorious, Luke does the honorable thing by showing mercy and sparing his enemy. Thereby saving himself from corruption and redeeming his father.
“What really happened: Luke tries to avoid fighting but gives into anger. As he bests Vader in combat, Luke realizes his great mistake, winning this fight means losing his soul to the Dark Side.
“The battle itself is corrupting him, understanding this Luke throws away his weapon.”
McIntosh added: “Notice that the misreading reframes Luke as a badass warrior and reframes his refusal to kill Vader as an act of mercy stemming from a position of power. This is significant because Luke beating Vader in combat is explicitly depicted as a moment of weakness NOT strength.
A handful of The Last Jedi haters in my mentions are offering up a fascinating misreading of the final showdown between Luke and Vader in RotJ. I think it’s worth taking a moment to discuss because it may help explain why these guys hate Luke’s character so much in Episode VIII. pic.twitter.com/zI9ZY9JL9q
— Jonathan McIntosh (@radicalbytes) July 10, 2018
“The desire of some fans to re-imagine Luke as a powerful warrior who spares the bad guy out of benevolence is consistent with the way male heroes are often represented. It’s the way Batman is framed when he doesn’t kill The Joker. But Luke Skywalker isn’t the typical action hero.
“Luke’s arc in the original trilogy ends with him not only refusing to kill the bad guy, but refusing to even fight a worse villain.
“This is why Luke’s force projection standoff with Kylo in The Last Jedi is so perfect. It’s the ultimate expression of everything Luke has learned.
The moment saw Luke resisting the Dark Side once and for all
Mark Hamill reprised the role in The Last Jedi
“The fact that an iconic figure like Luke Skywalker was explicitly framed as *weak* for fighting a murderous villain like Darth Vader is a pretty subversive message, especially for a male hero in Hollywood. And it’s something that, 35 years later, some fans still refuse to accept.”
Johnson, who wrote and directed The Last Jedi, said: “This illuminated something I found totally baffling, thank you.”
Indeed, Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi – which saw him refusing to leave Ahch-To and only leaving it via a Force Projection – was one of the most divisive aspects of The Last Jedi.
It’s now unknown if Mark Hamill, who plays him, will be back one more time in Episode 9, which will shortly begin production.