Imagine the excitement Star Wars fans felt that Luke Skywalker and his friends would return for The Force Awakens, some 30 years after Return of the Jedi. By then, he would be a Jedi Master, his powers at their peak and–as the opening crawl indicated–powerful enough to frighten the Imperial First Order. The actor, Mark Hamill, prepared for his comeback with vigorous training and a restrictive diet. Fans expected great things from his character, now mature, yet presuming he’d maintain his optimism, and remain the role model that fans assumed he had become.
But what a surprise! After all that dieting, all that training, Hamill’s character appeared only at the end of The Force Awakens.
He became a quitter. He “walked away from everything” and disappeared. Han Solo explained:
Luke Skywalker a quitter? What’s going on?
We found out more two years later in The Last Jedi. J.J. Abrams turned him into a quitter. Director Rian Johnson turned him into a coward, and almost a murderer. And a grump.
This was a role model? This was Luke Skywalker?
Mark Hamill, professional that he was, did as he was told and he played the part according to Abrams, Johnson, and writer Lawrence Kasdan, even though he behaved completely out of character. The creator, George Lucas, had envisioned Luke Skywalker to be an idealized version of himself. Would Lucas imagine his alter ego would become grumpy, cowardly, and a murderer?
And what happened to the agility and combat prowess we had come to expect from Skywalker? Other than toning his body, why wasn’t Mark Hamill’s training regimen utilized?
Hamill threw a bone to the fans. This wasn’t Luke Skywalker. This was Jake Skywalker. Besides, they’re only movies. And this was no longer Luke Skywalker’s story. Bait with the old cast, switch with the new cast.
This was Hamill’s reaction:
“Mark Hamill Doesn’t Feel Like Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi – Sad Truth”
Posted by PrimeGamingYT, December 20, 2017.
“Mark Hamill: ‘It’s a different Luke'”
Posted by JarJar Abrams, December 29, 2017.
Associated Press, “Hamill: Playing Jaded Skywalker was ‘tough'”
Posted July 3, 2018.
Out with the old, in with the new.