Episode VII and the Death of Luke Skywalker

259px-LukeSkywalkerNEGTCLet’s face it and bring it out into the open now. History is going to repeat itself and Episode VII is going to bring us the death of Luke Skywalker. Shall we review? In Episode IV we see the death of the Force-using mentor to the protagonist (Ben’s death to Luke as the hero). In Episode I we also have the death of the Force-using mentor to the supposed hero or heroes (Qui-Gon Jinn to Obi-Wan and Anakin as the heroes). This is a classic move that enables the up and coming hero to actually become the hero. In each instance the Force-using mentor died at the hands of a Sith opponent and if you read the roundtable discussion on who we think the antagonists for the ST will be we pretty much agreed that a Star Wars movie is not a Star Wars movie without the clash of the red lightsaber with a variety of different colored lightsabers.

I see no reason why Episode VII won’t follow along the same lines to begin the hard journey for the next set of Jedi. If we toss out the Expanded Universe and for those that do read it we realize that the majority of fans out there are movie fans then Luke Skywalker is the only Force user (technically we’ve never seen Leia use the Force) and it makes the most sense for the mentor death to be him. From a shock value standpoint it would also be the biggest shock to the viewers. I remember how I felt when Obi-Wan Kenobi “died”. Hearing his voice tell Luke to run did little to console me while watching the movie for the first time.

337px-SoloTwins_EGttFIn order for the death of Luke Skywalker to be a viable option for Episode VII the creators need to be ready with a likeable, believable second mentor to fill the hole caused by the death of Luke Skywalker. This would actually be a good fit for several Expanded Universe characters to be included or even a child of Han and Leia (provided that the movies go along with them being together still). Luke was able to keep training because he was told to go to Dagobah where he found Yoda. Anakin was able to train because Obi-Wan Kenobi was there to step into the mentor role. The next generation of Jedi is going to be no different.

They’ll need the freedom to get into their own sorts of trouble and I firmly believe one of the failings of the Expanded Universe in developing new Jedi is that Luke Skywalker is always there looming over the characters and it is difficult to believe, in universe, that the most powerful man in the galaxy wouldn’t go deal with the problem himself. I don’t want to see the OT all over again, I want to see new characters and I believe in order to get that Skywalker has got to go. With the rumored time jump for Episode VII and the previous history of using older adult Jedi in the Clone Wars and the Prequels there needs to be a good reason for Luke to not be the one out saving the galaxy. Mark Hamill himself said he would like to play an “Obi-Wan type of role”. In the EU we make jokes that started with 60 is the new 40 and continued on with 80 is the new 40. I don’t want to see the ST make the same mistakes as the EU and attempt to think this will be believable for the fans. Or even that this is what the fans want. This isn’t what the fans want, right?

What better way for the new antagonists to be taken as a serious threat than to off the Jedi who took down Darth Vader and the Emperor? I am having a hard time believing they are going to be able to create a villain that I will hate as much or more than the Emperor. However, if they had said villain take out Luke that would probably do it for me. I need that. I need to hate the villains in the movies. I love that part about books and movies. I’m pretty sure the reason I still don’t like the Empire is because of the burned bodies of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. 640px-X-wing_SWGTCGStar Wars is violent. Wars bring death and destruction. I expect nothing less from Episode VII.

Disney is excited about the Star Wars franchise and they are already hinting that these movies are going to spawn side movies. They need to have young, intriguing and compelling characters to further the franchise with. We need to move past the Big 3 and I believe this will start with the death of Luke.

16 thoughts to “Episode VII and the Death of Luke Skywalker”

  1. I’ll be the first to admit I have no love for Luke Skywalker. I’ve been waiting for him to die from the moment I saw the opening sequence of A New Hope. However, I have absolutely no desire to seem him killed off for mere shock value or as a way to build up a new villain’s credentials. To kill a main character can be a bold new step for a franchise, but it should also only be done if it’s a natural progression of the story. To do so to lock in your viewers’ interest in a new trilogy is just taking the cheap and easy way out. It’s entirely possible to tell a story in which Luke is alive and out of focus, just as it’s possible to have him die of old age or disease without it being at the hands of yet another Sith or fallen Jedi.

    I won’t object to anything that finally brings a definitive end to Luke’s thirty-five plus years of adventuring, but I hope it can be done in a way that doesn’t rely on the same school of thought that dropped a moon on Chewbacca in Vector Prime.

  2. I’m going to say nay because of the reasons you outlined in your opening paragraph – that it would be repeating a trick and I can’t see that going down well at all. Part of the challenge for the writers of Ep VII is that the audience is considerably more savvy than its predecessors. Old tricks are not wanted, nor are repackaged old tricks in shiny foil!

    That said, I think it likely Luke may die but my money’s on it being Episode IX.

    1. I don’t know Ben — I think Lisa’s hit the nail on the head here. Think about it: the first modern EU novel, Heir to the Empire, put an end to Kenobi’s ghost right up front. It had to do that in order for the next generation (Luke’s) of Jedi to come to the forefront — Episode VII will probably have to do the same.

      Star Wars used to be the story of Anakin/Vader, but really it seems more like Anakin’s trilogy and Luke’s trilogy. Now it’s time for someone else’s trilogy. Luke needs to step aside to do so, but as the EU has shown us… it’s hard for someone as big as Luke flippin’ Skywalker to step aside. He casts too big a shadow.

      So exactly as she says: this can only happen if Luke is dead.

      1. Yeah, but HTTE was for an audience 20 years ago and practically pre-Internet. TUF arguably undid its dismissal of Kenobi too. Although thinking about it, the idea that the old generation have to die in order to allow the next one free reign presupposes to a degree the one will be in a position to hinder the other. I mean I don’t think of Luke in the 5 years post-Endor turning to Ben every time he needs help, I’d see the character as being more independent than that.

        As it for being Anakin then Luke’s trilogy – was it ever not that, Lucas’ protestations to the contrary?

        From a film perspective it is relatively easy to sideline Luke as, in film terms, that big shadow isn’t there! He’s one Jedi Knight and that’s it. You could easily have in the opening crawl that he’s revived the Jedi and that’s it. It’s only the EU with the notion of the Holy Skywalker Blood conferring UNLIMITED POWAH that’s problematic and that likely won’t feature – at least I hope not.

    2. I can see the point about repeating a formula, which is why I think there may be a chance that Luke dies not in Episode VII, but Episode VIII. If Luke just shows up to be the new Kenobi, and every trilogy starts with the mentor dying, it may feel somewhat repetitive. But what if, instead, Luke is killed in the middle film of the trilogy to hit the TESB-style low point for the heroes, the moment of darkness where the good guys lose to set up the stakes for the final film? It shakes it up, it out-darks and potentially out-shocks TESB with a new surprise, but still, like Yoda dying in the beginning of ROTJ, works to free the new hero to stand alone in the final film, when it’s most important that he move forward to stand on his own.

      Besides, are the makers of the ST ready to kill off their big, iconic audience hook for the sequels right off the bat, or might they keep Hamill through two-thirds of the new trilogy? I think it has business appeal as well as artistic appeal. My prediction is that he dies — but in Episode VIII.

  3. I’m hoping Luke dies of old age. I think it would be too repetitive to always have the mentor killed off so the apprentice can take over. I’d like the Sequel trilogy to be more surprising and creative than that. Luke is a pretty iconic character too. As someone said, why would Disney kill off one of its major draws to the new films right off the bat?

    I would actually like to see a bit of the new generation working with the older generation. I’m not expecting Luke (or Han and Leia) to be the major heroes of the SQ. However, I do hope that they will have useful, even if small, roles to play. As the likely head of the Jedi Order, Luke especially should have a fairly important part. And I don’t mean to die so the next generation can shine. I think the new characters can be the focus of the films and shine and be the new action heroes for the future without having Luke die.

  4. Great article!

    My scattered meta-comments:

    1) The PT and the OT are really one big story: the rise and fall and rise of Anakin Skywalker. Oh, sure, Luke is the viewpoint character in the OT, but the greater story is Anakin’s. So I’m not exactly convinced there are clues to the ST in the structure of the previous films. The PT is about falling to the dark side; the OT is about resisting the dark side and redemption. For the ST to stand on its own, they’re going to have to come up with a different story because Anakin’s is pretty much over.

    2) On the other hand, you’re right, the first film of each trilogy contained the death of a mentor, and I can very well see that happen here. But I doubt it will be Luke. It kinda negates the arc of the first six films if Luke gets taken down by token bad Sith guy ala Qui-Gon. I can, however, see the death of the mentor figure to the new characters being what pulls Luke into the story – ala Yoda. In fact, that’s the role I think Luke, if he is used, will play in the story: the Yoda role, not the Ben Kenobi or Qui-Gon role. And Yoda does die – but in the last film, and rather peacefully, knowing that victory is within grasp. If they kill off Luke, I expect the same type of death as the little green guy.

    3) JJ Abrams and his team came of age in the era of the OT, not the ST. I bet the films will harken back to the space opera, high adventure mold of the OT. I’m not expecting high tragedy and violent, visceral death. Maybe a few planets blowing up ala Alderaan and Vulcan, but not gore and blood for gore and blood’s sakes.

    I am expecting complicated family relationships and legacies. Alias had the Sydney/Jack relationship, Fringe had the Peter/Walter relationship, Lost had the Jack/Christian relationship, and Super 8 was about a grieving father and son trying to reconnect. The new Star Trek hinges its interpretation of Kirk on Kirk losing his hero father as a newborn, while Original!Kirk grew up with his father.

    So I do think there will be a new generation of Solos or Skywalkers struggling with complicated family histories – but I don’t think they will bear any resemblance in personality or back story to the current EU characters. I doubt we’ll get anything from the current EU except for an Easter egg here or there, and that’s perfectly fine with me.

  5. I think a decision on whether or not to kill Luke, in Episode VII or in the ST at all, depends both on the type of story being told as a whole and more specifically on the state of the Jedi Order in the ST. Killing Obi-Wan worked because, at the time, there was no one else for Luke to rely on, no one else to shoulder the burden, and it therefore served to push Luke forward – something that ties into the decision in Empire to make Yoda small and ancient, so he couldn’t be pulled out of the swamp to take up his lightsaber.

    Given this, I think killing Luke would be a big deal and potentially very effective if the New Jedi Order is, for whatever reason, small and weak. Luke’s death would then bring about a real leadership crisis that the remaining handful of Jedi would have to deal with. By contrast, if there is a large Jedi Order with a strong council (meaning not one that turns into bickering kindergarteners in Luke’s absence as in FotJ), Luke’s death would be a tragedy, but only a minor stumbling block, and could backfire in much the way killing Mara Jade in LotF backfired – it eliminated a fan-favorite character with minimal storytelling payoff at best. In the same vein, how many f us were really torn up when Qui-Gon went down?

    I do think the ST should feel free to kill Luke, and Leia, and Han, and frankly anyone they want. No sacred cows in the new movies please, but they should only do it if the story calls for it and they can handle it correctly, not for the sake of killing off a major OT just to prove they can or ‘no characters shields.’

  6. Interesting article, but I have a feeling that Abrams and Ardnt will be playing with our expectations with the “fallen mentor” trope. I imagine they’ll have a way of both the old generation shine without taking the new generation’s spotlight

  7. I do not want to see Luke die to set up a new villain, that would be so dumb.
    Also Luke becomes far far more powerful then both Yoda and Sidious and there is
    no new bad guy who can even touch Luke.20 Sith could not kill Luke,George Lucas quote, Luke becomes 299% more powerful then Sidious.Anyways there is no way they will kill luke in VII.He should remain until IX to help set up new characters, leia han amd maybe lukes kids etc.I want to see Luke actually train new jedi, talk about the force alot, really be a wise master.

    1. If done properly I’d agree with you, but given the experience of reading the EU I don’t feel like they’re going to be able to do this properly. Even Yoda was out on the front lines doing battle during the Prequels. Also when the EU did try to put Luke on the sidelines the reaction was “Hey Luke is supposed to be really powerful right? Why would he send new Jedi off to do that when he could go himself?”

      I don’t want to see those issues so I guess I’d rather just have them kill Luke off after we get to see him training some of the new Jedi.

      We’re no longer operating under the confines of Lucas’ random comments either so I don’t think we need to continue to put forth things he has said in the past.

  8. I’m always interested in speculation about what will or not will be, in this new trilogy, the fate of Luke obviously is the greatest question and I sincerely don’t want to see him die, and if must to be so, at least not so early like Obi Wan did. I agree with the idea that Luke’s death isn’t necessary…it’s my opinion that the death of the old mentor’s figure in the first six films, was necessary because of the plot’s continuity in the pt and because of the hero’s journey in the ot, so given that this new trilogy isn’t bound to any plot’s continuity and that we can have an old mentor, go side by side, in the background, with a new hero (see Dumbledore, Gandalf, Yoda himself) I’m hopeful in Luke’s survival for good part of the story.

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