Spanning across nine separate films throughout the last four decades, the Star Wars franchise has managed to spread a message of hope to countless fans around the globe. At its core, the Skywalker Saga has been about doing the right thing in the face of all-encompassing evil, and having the courage to stand and become a beacon of hope. And while the franchise has shown heroes become villains, failing when facing incredible odds, few entries in the saga focus on how people can pick themselves back up again. That is, until Star Wars: The Last Jedi was unleashed into the world.
This concept of rising after defeat is the core theme of The Last Jedi, which continues the narrative theme of Darth Vader's fall from grace and redemption through the journey of Luke Skywalker. This informs the character arcs of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren as they all face their own struggles and either rise to the challenge or succumb to the Dark Side of the Force.
The movie deftly tackles the legacy of Star Wars by putting Luke Skywalker in a position many fans were uncomfortable seeing; he was downtrodden, evasive, with his back turned to the movement he helped inspire. He felt the best thing he could do for the galaxy was crawl into a hole and be forgotten after he enabled the creation of Kylo Ren.
This was a necessary development for Star Wars and its hopes to move beyond the legacy of the Skywalkers. It's not just that The Last Jedi established how everyone could be important and anyone can be a Jedi, a concept that's summarized in the final shot of a young boy wielding a broom with his head to the stars. It's also that no one stops growing, no one completely escapes the temptation of the Dark Side, and no one ever stops challenging themselves to do the right thing.
It also shows that when you do fail, no matter who you are, you can always regroup. This is embodied by the new appearance of Yoda, who once famously told the young Luke, "Do or do not, there is no try." Years later, he's explaining that failure is key to growing as a Jedi, a lesson that Luke took decades to finally understand.
While Luke suffered many setbacks and endured hardships in the original trilogy of Star Wars films, he never had to deal with the fallout of his own missteps. He dealt with realizations and personal loss, growing from those experiences to become the warrior who eventually took down the Empire. Yet, when it came to his actions having an adverse effect on the balance of the Force, he couldn't come to terms with his own failure and took himself out of the picture. It isn't until Rey coaxes him out of his hole, forcing him to come to terms with his past, that he finally regains the resolve to correct his actions. It happened with Poe Dameron in his own failed mutiny, it happened with Finn when he turned his back on the First Order, and it happened with Darth Vader when he finally threw Emperor Palpatine to his doom.
No one is immune to failure, no one is capable of being perfect. Luke Skywalker had to recognize his own legacy in order to move on from it and, in essence, finally becoming the hero that the galaxy has always needed. He taught the entire universe that so long as people are willing to stand up for what's right, there will never be a Last Jedi.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th.
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