It was hard to predict how Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) would react after seeing his father's old lightsaber being offered to him for the first time in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but fans didn't expect the Jedi Master to toss the saber right over his shoulder.
Though some would think that the dismissal of the lightsaber was nothing but a gag, The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson explains in the Bullseye with Jesse Thorn podcast how that moment was meant to express Luke's past, present, and his future.
"This kid he doesn't know comes up to the top with this big gleam in her eye like, 'Here you go! and hands him this symbol of everything that he has done this gargantuan feat of will to step away from and shoves it in his face with this expectant look, what's he gonna do? Fire it up and say, 'Okay, I guess you found me, let's go,'? No, if you're actually tracking where his head should be at, I don't know, it's obviously a big, dramatic gesture. In terms of that, it didn't even seem like, 'Oh boy, this is really gonna test the waters,' it just really seemed like what he would do."
Some Star Wars fans thought the lightsaber toss was very unbecoming of Luke, but Johnson put a lot of thought into the character's response to Rey's appearance with his father's old saber.
"…Why has this person, who I grew up with him as one of my heroes, why is he there? Why's he doing that?" Johnson questioned. "And as I started doing that, very quickly, it became evident to me that he's gotta be there for a reason. He's gotta be there because he genuinely believes in removing himself and thus the Jedi, because he is the last Jedi, from the equation, is a positive thing for the galaxy."
The director also goes on to explain why he didn't bring back the old, classic, benevolent Luke in The Last Jedi, saying that Luke's learned a little restraint from all his years as a Jedi.
"Once I kind of hit that and realized he genuinely thinks that if he brings the Jedi back, it might satisfy the galaxy's, for lack of a better word, 'fanboys' who wanted to see Luke back, but I'm gonna do more harm, ultimately, than good, it's gonna start up the same cycle. That he needs to remove it so the light can rise from a worthier source and then it's a burden that he's taken on his shoulders of taking himself out of the fight. He's essentially doing what he couldn't do in Empire, which is to not jump back in when he hears the cries of his friends in danger, but keep himself where he needs to be, in his mind, at least."
The fanboys might not be too happy seeing what Luke's become, but Johnson definitely did his best to flesh out Luke's character years and years after The Return of the Jedi. Sometimes fans tend to forget that people are fluid beings and that are ideals change over the years. Luke is no exception.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently screening in cinemas.