A very specific subset of Star Wars fan hated the direction that Rian Johnson took so much that there were all sorts of eyeroll-inducing internet campaigns, including a petition to remove the billion-dollar-earning pop culture phenomenon from the Star Wars canon. Angsty fans tanked the Rotten Tomatoes fan rating with 'review bombing bots' and put so much effort into blasting the movie that if you type 'Last Jedi' into Google, this is the first thing that pops up:
It all boils down to how said angsty (and self-identified) fanboys chafe at TLJ's angsty Luke Skywalker. He's not the majestic hero on a hill, cutting down Imperial forces and saving the day, he's a self-isolating, brooding curmudgeon who holed up on an ancient island to die alone - and take the Jedi Religion with him. He blames the Jedi for allowing the Empire to begin in the first place - which they kinda did - and chose to bail on everything so his powers don't perform evil in the name of good. Which is heroic in its own way - 'from a certain point of view'.
Writer Bryan Young took to a Twitter thread to expand an interpretation that dug into the core of Luke's heroic self-sacrifice dressed up as pissy isolation, and we gotta say, it adds a lot. Big ol' thread incoming, and it's worth a full read.
The entire premise of The Empire Strikes Back is that Luke Skywalker can sense Han and Leia in danger before it happens across the galaxy and drops everything to save them.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
Luke is the central mystery of The Force Awakens. The opening sentence of the crawl is "Luke Skywalker has vanished." The closing shot is Rey having found him. The film is begging us to ask these questions about Luke.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
Why are we getting sidetracked by Snoke and Rey's parents?
I expected Luke to toss the saber the first time I saw the film. That's his thing. I've been on the "Luke is turning to non-violence" bandwagon for a while. But I was furious the first time I heard him say, "Where's Han?" BUT! I realized there had to be a reason for it...— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
Here we have the single most powerful Force user in the galaxy forced to cut himself off of every instinct he has for fear he'll do the galaxy more harm than good. From Luke's perspective, this abstinence of the Force is heroic. Another Jedi purge becomes impossible.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
I'm not just talking about the Rashomon sequence (which I thought was brilliant filmmaking), but the vision Rey and Kylo shared and discussed on the elevator. They saw the same thing and came to different conclusions about what that outcome would be.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
But let's talk about the Rashomon sequence. Because, to me, this is what made Luke the LEAST Luke and the MOST Luke and the more I watch it, the more heartbreaking it is to me in the best ways.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
It tells the tale of a murder in a meadow from three different perspectives. The film never offers us an objective truth on what happened, merely lets the narrators be as reliable or unreliable as our point of view allows.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
The second version is from Ben's perspective. Naturally, he's the hero of this version. Luke practically has Sith eyes and his green lightsaber is almost a sickly yellow. From Ben's POV, Luke arrives to murder him absolutely. There is no question in his mind.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
Luke goes to check on Ben and the darkness growing inside him. This wellness check is already filled with self-doubt. Luke, like every creative or heroic person I've ever known, suffers from impostor syndrome. Just like Obi-Wan's.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
The last time this happened, he was in the Death Star Throne Room and Vader taunted him with this vision of the future and he lost control. He ignited his saber out of instinct and fought. With rage and anger.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
Now, he goes to Ben's hut and sees that future all over again. And, as before, his saber ignites. And this is startling to him. He's instantly ashamed of himself and must deal with the consequence of that split-second consideration. We know he'd NEVER kill his nephew. Ben doesn't— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
And here's where Luke decided it was ultimately the right thing for the Galaxy to end the Jedi and quit the Force. Because these cycles of violence will happen between good and evil jockeying for power. And the constant in Luke's view was the Jedi.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
And that's why I love the end of the movie. Luke finally learned from his mistakes. He could stick to his non-violence, but still set an example that would ignite the galaxy. Which is why his saber never touches Ben's during the fight. It's 100% evasion.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
From my perspective, given Luke's inaction in TFA, this is the ONLY thing that could have been done with him. And why I've embraced the arc so much. I love it.— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) January 8, 2018
"See you around, kid."