The depiction of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi became a lightning rod a lot for both the film’s champions and critics. Maybe it was the fact that the aging Jedi—along with his Rebellion-leading sister—represented the last bridge between the original trilogy and the Disney era, the old fans and the new, what Star Wars was and what Star Wars is going to be. Whatever the reason, here we are, seven months after the movie came out, still debating why Luke’s actions in the film make sense or don’t. Here’s a pretty good take that made the rounds on Twitter recently that can be firmly placed in the “Last Jedi Luke makes perfect sense” camp:
Jonathan McIntosh (known on YouTube as Pop Culture Detective) does a lot of work focusing on the intersection of pop culture and toxic masculinity, which, some would argue, makes him perfectly suited to analyze Star Wars fan reactions. In this thread, he argues that people misread Luke’s fight with Vader at the end of Return Of The Jedi, casting Luke as a badass hero who mercifully spares the villain even though he could totally kill him. In reality, according to McIntosh, Luke’s real heroic move is that he chooses not to fight at all. His act of beating Vader to near-death should be seen as a point of weakness. That’s what makes him a subversive hero.
In this way, Luke’s non-confrontation with Kylo Ren at the end of The Last Jedi is completely consistent with his character in the series so far. He takes on an entire army and gives his allies a chance to escape without ever once going on the attack. In theory, it’s the most Jedi thing you can do.
Of course, this thread doesn’t attempt to solve the other issue people seem to have with Luke’s depiction: Namely, that if he was wise enough to see the goodness in Darth Vader, why couldn’t he do the same for teenage Ben Solo? We could chalk this up to the fact that everybody makes mistakes. Or we could just wait until the next essay-length Twitter thread about this movie gets posted. The Last Jedi debate feels like it is, somehow, just beginning.
Send Great Job, Internet tips to firstname.lastname@example.org