It's no secret that Star Wars fans feel some kind of way about how Star Wars: The Last Jedi depicted Luke Skywalker. Last Jedi gave us a broken and jaded Luke living in isolation and refusing to aid the galaxy against The First Order - that is until Rey inspired him to at least send an astral projection to Crait, in order to distract Kylo Ren and his forces until The Resistance could escape.
Well, some Star Wars fans still can't let go of seeing a Luke Skywalker they'd never imagined, and are still pretty vocal about it on social media. However, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson isn't just taking it in stride - he's making the argument for his case:
Hot take: Luke is in fact 100% consistent with his character (not the way he’s described in marketing blurbs, but his actual, based-on-his-words-and-actions character) from the OT. I’ll be at the bar if you need me.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) November 5, 2018
At this point, nearly a year later, Rian Johnson has made several lengthy defenses of his character and story decisions for The Last Jedi - and has repeatedly pointed out how his decisions (like Luke's Astral Projection) were all mined from deep-dive research of the series and its lore. It would take a much longer analysis from a truly dedicated fan, but if Johnson is this confident throwing down the gauntlet, you can believe that there's a solid defense that could be mounted, proving that the seeds of Luke's Last Jedi turn could be found all throughout the Original Trilogy.
For a brief overview: Luke was always concerned about facing the darkness inside of himself - a subplot that came to a major head in The Empire Strikes Back, when he decapitated an illusionary Darth Vader in that cave on Degobah, only to realize that the person he actually destroyed was himself, by giving into the rage and fear of the darkside. Luke carried that doubt into his final confrontation with Vader and Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, and ultimately decided on a path of non-resistance as his answer to the conflict. Instead of striking down his father, or The Emperor, Luke extinguished his lightsaber and chose not to fight. It was Vader who stepped in when The Emperor attempted to kill Luke, and ended the threat of both villains, for good.
What a lot of fans seem to have missed is that indeed, the seeds of Luke's evolution into his Last Jedi character were always there. The choice not to fight was already there; Yoda and Obi-Wan inspired him to be a teacher; and Yoda and Obi-Wan both gave Luke example of why it is sometimes necessary for a Jedi Master to be in isolation, as a way of serving the greater good. So, maybe Johnson doesn't need to mount a big defense: maybe more Star Wars fans need to rewatch the OT from a new perspective?
The franchise continues with Star Wars: Episode IX on December 20, 2019.