Spoiler warning: Save this for later if you haven't seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Two years ago, Star Wars fans sat opened-mouthed in theaters as they took in the ending of The Force Awakens. Mark Hamill's iconic Luke Skywalker was finally back on the screen, thanks to new Star Wars protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey holds out her hand to offer Luke his lightsaber and then—before Hamill has a chance to even utter a line of dialogue—the movie ends.
This is the cliffhanger The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson inherited from Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. For Star Wars fans, it's been a long two years of wondering and pondering how that scene will end. Nothing can live up to two years' worth of fan theories, so perhaps that's why Johnson took it in an unexpected direction.
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When we pick up where we left off on the island with Luke and Rey in The Last Jedi, there are no Skywalker words of wisdom, no loving Jedi embrace and no tears. Instead, Luke snatches his old lightsaber from Rey's hands, scoffs, and tosses it over his shoulder. And as for Hamill's first line of dialogue? "Go away."
For some fans, that was a welcome moment of humor—an invitation to laugh at the overwhelming hype building over the last two years. For others, it was a more akin to a slap in the face. But in an interview with Newsweek on Friday, Johnson explained Luke's reaction to Rey was simply the only path forward he saw for the characters.
"I did it because I thought that's what Luke would do," Johnson told Newsweek. "He's made a purposeful choice to walk away from everything, and he's made this Herculean effort to do so. He's taken himself to, as he says, this unfindable place. And then this stranger, a kid, shows up and is a symbol of everything he has left behind."
Of course Luke would dismiss Rey and her lightsaber gift, Johnson said. What else would she expect?
"She holds [the lightsaber] out to him as if to say, 'Here you go, here's what you've been waiting for.' This is everything he's decided to walk away from! So that seems exactly how he would react to me," Johnson said. "Luke goes, 'What do you expect I'm going to do with this? This is everything I left behind!' Toss, walk off."
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"I knew it would be a moment that would maybe be unexpected," Johnson admitted, "but I wrote it because it felt like—honestly, what else would happen?"
Perhaps a grumpy, old Luke wasn't what Star Wars fans wanted from their beloved Jedi after the hero triumphantly returned to the franchise. But Johnson has a point—what other way could that two-year-long cliffhanger have ended? At least Luke didn't take a page out of Voldemort's book and go in for the awkward hug, right?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters everywhere.
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