MAJOR LAST JEDI SPOILERS
For the last two years, Luke’s been in my head just staring at a random women with a weapon he last saw as his right hand fell into the distance. I’ve been just hoping that whatever happened next would be badass.
I was so right.
But I was also wrong. Jedi has always been my superpower of choice, and Luke my number one fictional role model. But somehow, in expecting something badass to happen, I’d forgotten that my dreams for Luke weren’t about skewering people on a laser sword or throwing force lightning around like Zeus, they were about resurrecting the Jedi order. They weren’t dreams of battle, but dreams of building.
Luke has always been a bit of a peculiar superhero, if mighty macho fighting men are your kinda thing. In A New Hope, Luke’s brilliant fighting innovation is to turn off his targeting computer and trust his feelings. In Empire, Vader literally throws Luke out a window without breaking a sweat, while casually granting him giant therapy bills for life. In Return of the Jedi, Luke’s big strategy for beating the Emperor is convincing his dad to fight for him. And it works.
Luke’s great power has never been bloodlust; it’s been empathy.
If you, like me, were kinda hoping Luke would go out stabbed by 100 lightsabers while pulling Star Destroyers out of orbit and munching on Kylo Ren’s heart, Last Jedi was a reminder that we forgot what Luke has always been about. He’s always been the heart kid from Captain Planet.
And Luke, too, forgot this. As Rey (thank you for the emotional labor) reminds, Luke’s mistake with Ben isn’t to be afraid of him; it’s to think that the battle for his soul is over, or that it could possibly be won with a lightsaber. As someone wise once said, wars do not make one great.
And so, it’s so fitting that in Luke’s final battle, he once more plays to his strengths. He doesn’t meet Kylo Ren for the titanic displays of force powers that made the Yoda v. Palpatine fight the most meaningful in all of the movies, or for the aerial acrobatics from the end of Phantom Menace that made that movie the best in the series (sarcasm, so much sarcasm). Instead, Luke’s final fight comes right back to what always made him great.
A bit of trickery. Some clever quips. And a little delaying action to raise up a nobody who’s going to get a chance to be the most powerful of them all. Badass.