WARNING: Major Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead! Continue reading at your own risk...
Star Wars fans around the world dropped their jaws in the third act of 2015's The Force Awakens, as they watched the beloved Han Solo die at the hands of his own son. The Last Jedi featured another goodbye to one of the original trilogy's biggest characters, but in a way that anyone was expecting.
Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, stole the show in the final 30 minutes of The Last Jedi, seemingly appearing on Crait to fight Kylo Ren, only to reveal that he wasn't actually on the planet at all. He was still back on Ahch-To, projecting himself across the galaxy. After the stunt, Luke faded away into nothing, releasing himself to the Force in peace.
Even though he's gone, Luke's ending still seemed like a victorious affair, and that's exactly what director Rian Johnson was going for.
"Well, I debated it a lot, but it was always in my head that always made sense to me for a lot of different reasons," Johnson said of Luke's finale during an interview with Uproxx. "First of all, this is Luke’s movie. Mark gives a great performance in it. His journey back to taking on the mantle of the legend of Luke Skywalker, basically — something he had rejected as being unhealthy for the universe. And him coming around to realizing that the galaxy needs this — 'I need to be the legend they need me to be,' and taking that on his shoulders.
"Once he does that and comes back and does this heroic act that’s going to resonate throughout the universe, the notion that then that’s the moment to give him his final bow. And that’s the most emotionally potent time to do that made a lot of sense. And, honestly, thinking about the number of characters we have on our plate going into the next movie — and I’m not working on the script for IX with J.J. [Abrams] and Chris [Terrio] and I want to be totally clear I don’t know what they’re doing – but it just vaguely seemed good to me that putting Luke in another realm could open possibilities for his possible involvement in the next one. As opposed to him just being another character that had to be juggled into the plot, if that makes sense."
Luke Skywalker may be gone, but his spirit will forever shape the future of the Star Wars franchise.