Of late, the Star Wars films have been oscillating between two extremities: playing it too safe and subverting expectations. Some will say that there is no pleasing Star Wars fans, but there’s more nuance to the argument than that. Frankly, neither approaches are correct.
Playing it too safe hinders creativity. Subverting expectations for the sake of it isn’t any better either. The latter approach can work better provided that in retrospect the outcome feels both inevitable and interesting. The Last Jedi was filled to the brim with “gotcha!” moments with some interesting ideas peppered in but ultimately failing in execution. The Force Awakens and The Rise Of Skywalker did all they could do to weaponize nostalgia. It’s not that hard to see that both approaches have their own problems.
What Would It Mean For The Sequel Trilogy If Luke Went Dark?
Luke Skywalker himself agrees, well, somewhat anyway. Mark Hamill recently recounted how he felt that George Lucas was playing it too safe with 1983’s Return Of The Jedi. Fan discourse over Jedi seems to focus a lot more on the inclusion of Ewoks and the comical death of Boba Fett. But at one point, Hamill felt that the film was playing it too safe with Luke not turning to the Dark Side.
He voiced his gripes with Lucas, who disagreed. Hamill went over and said that the film felt very predictable and pat and that he felt that they would continue to go darker, especially after Empire’s ending. The Star Wars creator then told Hamill that these films were made for children, and that’s why the ending had to be the way it was.
It’s interesting to note that Hamill wanted Luke to go to the Dark Side. Whatever the case, Luke redeeming Darth Vader in the final moments of the film makes for a more sensible ending, at least to me. And Hamill definitely seems to have realized that it was better ending too. Especially given how he has been vocal of his dislike on how Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi turned him into a hermit without much in the way of character development.