Star Wars: Rian Johnson Explains Why Luke Skywalker Isn't a Coward in 'The Last Jedi'

The latest Star Wars movie was met with a divisive response from fans, despite being one of the most critically praised films in the franchise.

Many took umbrage with how Luke Skywalker was portrayed in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, hiding out on the island of Ahch-To after one of his greatest failures instead of leading the charge against the First Order. But Rian Johnson recently explained his direction for the movie, revealing why Luke should not be considered a coward.

"Coming into writing Luke, the first thing I had to figure out was why was he on that island," Johnson said on the Empire Film Podcast. "He's taken himself out of the fight. His friends are fighting and dying [in] the good fight. He's sitting on an island in exile. I know the Luke that I grew up with is not a coward; he's not sitting out there hiding. So I had to come up with a reason he was there that was one, active; and two, positive. And I guess, three, something that I could genuinely believe I could think if I were in Luke's shoes."

Johnson had to pick up the threads that were left by J.J. Abrams in The Force Awakens, and felt he came up with a compelling reason for Luke's exile.

"And the thing that I came to, that seemed to make sense to me… was this notion that he sees this hero worship of him and of the Jedi as something that is detrimental to the galaxy," Johnson said. "The universe has put its faith in this false god of the Jedi and they need to basically forget the religion… so the light can rise from a worthier source, basically.

"And because he's the last Jedi and a symbol of that, it then becomes this self sacrifice he has to do to take himself out of it when he knows his friends are dying, when the thing he'd most like to do is get back in the fight. But he's taken the weight of the world on his shoulders by taking himself out of the equation so that the Jedi can die out so that the light can rise from a worthier source."

Johnson goes on to say that Luke approaches the dilemma much in the same way of Kylo Ren, in that they both want to "let the past die." But Luke's issue stems from a personal failure, rather than a rebellious nature that drives the former Ben Solo to an extent.

Of course, in the end, Luke Skywalker embraces his past and becomes the spark needed to ignite hope in the galaxy, trusting that Rey will be able to build on the failures of the Jedi in a way that he couldn't.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters.

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