Annlyel continues her series focusing on the defining moments of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe.
Luke Skywalker became a prominent character again after The Force Awakens revived his character and while many Star Wars fans were highly dissatisfied with his role in The Last Jedi there were others, including me, who at least appreciated Rian Johnson’s vision for the elderly Jedi Master.
Luke Skywalker has had quite an extensive storyline and so this will be a long read.
1. A Secret Message
Luke was a moisture farmer on Tatooine. While he loved his uncle and aunt so he didn’t complain often he always dreamed of leaving the desolate planet to go fight for the Rebellion against the Empire. So imagine his immense surprise when he came across the secret message hidden within R2’s insides. Here was this hologram of a beautiful princess who was in desperate need of aid. With his imagination running wild the world beyond his sandy home began to slowly enter his life. He had no idea how far that simple message would end up taking him.
2. Staring at the Two Suns
While this is one of the quieter defining moments of Luke’s long journey it is one of the most impactful, for it highlights Luke’s wistfulness to explore new horizons. This was the scene that, I believe, truly began his story and would end up becoming one of the most iconic scenes in Star Wars.
3. Saved By Ben Kenobi
After losing R2-D2 Luke, of course, went to go retrieve the droid but ended up coming across the terrifying and brutal Tusken Raiders. In a scuffle, he was knocked unconscious and became their captive, but not for long as he was rescued by the old hermit, Ben Kenobi. Upon waking he learned some fascinating truths, such as learning that Ben Kenobi, in fact, was the person the princess in the message was speaking of; “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
He had no clue that this simple rescue would lead to the beginning of a great adventure.
4. His Father’s Lightsaber
In Kenobi’s home, Luke repaired C-3PO and talked with the elder hermit, as he had done many times growing up, but this would become one of his most riveting experiences with the retired Jedi Knight. This scene is a defining moment in Luke’s life for many reasons.
- It was his first time holding a lightsaber, the ancient weapon of the Sith and Jedi Orders.
- It was the first time he learned the truth about his father being a Jedi Knight.
- It was the first time he knew about Darth Vader, only Obi-Wan Kenobi twisted the truth, choosing to tell Luke that Darth Vader was the man who “murdered” his father.
- And finally, it’s the first time he learns about the Force.
5. The Lars’ Death
On his journey returning home, Luke saw the horrific destruction a group of Imperial stormtroopers wreaked on a Jawa transport and as he realized they were looking for the droids in his care he instantly realized what the troopers’ next destination would be; his home! He rushed home to warn his uncle and aunt and when he reached the house that he had grown up in, smoke billowing into the air like a scene from a war zone, fear clung to his heart. He jumped out of his speeder car, calling for his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and then…he saw them. This is one of the most horrific Star Wars moments as the camera sweeps the destruction before stopping on their charred skeletons. It’s a haunting image and the moment that ultimately made Luke want to become a Jedi.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
Luke Skywalker, like Rey, wasn’t very knowledgeable about the Force at the beginning of his journey but Obi-Wan Kenobi would help him realize his power. Aboard the Millennium Falcon, the Jedi Master has Luke practice using the Force to block laser blasts with a lightsaber from the remote. Luke at first can’t figure out how to deflect the remote’s blaster fire. It is only until Kenobi places a helmet on his head, forcing him to use the Force as his guide, that he blocks three laser blasts in perfect succession. It’s the first time Luke understands the true power of a Jedi.
7. Rescuing Princess Leia
Luke was on an adventure that he would’ve never expected but as he and his friends found themselves inside the Death Star he soon discovered that the very same princess from the hologram was aboard the space station. He immediately wanted to rescue her and, thanks to some persuasion, managed to get Han to help him. When he rescued her he had no idea that at that moment he was actually coming face to face with his twin sister for the very first time. Gosh, I love Star Wars. You can’t get much better than this with storytelling.
8. Ben Kenobi Dies
After losing his uncle and aunt Ben Kenobi was the only person to fill that parent-like gap. Ben was more than just a mentor, he was also a friend, so imagine the horror he felt when he saw the old man that he had grown to love sliced down by Darth Vader himself. While it wasn’t the scenario Luke would’ve ever wanted with Force Ghost Kenobi’s help this moment propelled him into becoming the hero that he needed to be.
9. Luke Destroys the Death Star
Luke joined the Rebel Alliance like he always dreamed of doing and just in time too, for the rebels were getting ready to attack the Empire’s greatest weapon, the Death Star. Luke was supposedly just another rebel pilot in the Rebellion’s meager ranks but he was much more than that. When the moment arrived for him to take his turn at the trench run it was a nail-biting moment for the rebels as the Death Star was within seconds of destroying Yavin 4, hence ending the Rebellion. It was at this moment in his life when he first trusted in the power of the Force. With Kenobi to help guide him, he pulled the trigger at the precise time and it led to him ultimately destroying the Death Star, making him the rebellion hero that he always dreamed of becoming.
10. Luke Is Told To Go To Dagobah
It’s years after the destruction of the first Death Star and Luke is a different person than he once was. He’s much more mature, he’s seen the battlegrounds of war, and he’s now a commander of the Rebellion. When he gets captured by the Wampa he manages to escape but he is far from home and according to R2-D2, it’s near impossible to survive the snowy, inhospitable tundra of Hoth at night. In his stupor, Kenobi visits Luke who then tells him to go to the Dagobah system where he would find a Jedi master named Yoda. It would be the moment in his life that would lead him to become a full-blown Jedi.
11. Luke Discovers That The Weird Alien is Jedi Master Yoda
Luke was in a funk. He had crash-landed in a bog on the murky planet of Dagobah, he didn’t know where he could find the Jedi Master, Yoda, and now he was in the home of this strange minuscule laughing alien eating disgusting slop and sitting amongst slithering snakes. When he realized that this little green, wrinkled thing in a dirty robe was actually Yoda it was a shocking moment for him and would ultimately be his first lesson.
13. Failing The Test
When Luke’s X-Wing finally sunk beneath the murky pond it had crashed in Yoda instructed him to use the Force to lift it out of the lake. He tried to but found he couldn’t, for it was “too big.” Yoda tried to convey to him that he was letting his mind get in the way of his abilities but he didn’t want to listen. Yoda then proved that it doesn’t matter how big or strong you are as he, himself, took the ship and basically parked it on the shore as a gaping Luke watched from afar. Luke, at that moment, failed another test but it was this failure that would make him stronger with the Force.
14. A Haunting Vision
In the midst of another training exercise, Luke received a vision of his friends enduring pain and suffering at the hands of the Empire. While we, of course, know that the vision wasn’t entirely accurate at that moment it’s chilling to realize that the pain and suffering that he envisioned for his friends would eventually come to pass much, much later. *shudder* Creepy.
15. Learning a Terrible Truth
Luke had gone to Cloud City to save his friends but ended up in a fierce duel with the dark lord, Darth Vader, the supposed “murderer” of his father. He fought the Sith Lord as best he could but ultimately lost. With only one hand left and anger in his heart, he spat what he thought was the truth at the Sith as he condemned him for killing his father. And then Darth Vader told him a truth he didn’t want to believe. Anakin Skywalker was Darth Vader. His father, the “Jedi Knight, greatest pilot in the galaxy, cunning warrior, and good friend of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s”, was the evil robotic Sith lord in front of him. It was a horrific truth for Luke to discover but would overall lead him to become a stronger person.
16. A New Hand
Luke received a robotic hand and while it isn’t one of his most blaring defining moments it shows his change and what he could, in fact, become. If he had turned to the Dark Side you can already see him becoming the cyborg that is his father. This harks back to his vision in the cave on Dagobah where the Force shows him that he is the same as his father if he just chooses the wrong path. Thankfully he didn’t.
17. A Sibling Revealed
When Ben Kenobi visited Luke on Dagobah Luke wasn’t very pleased. Kenobi had led Luke to believe that his father was a hero who had been struck down by this monster just to find out that the monster was his father. You can imagine his anger when seeing his old mentor again. That was soon replaced, however, by a stunning reveal as Luke realized that Leia, the woman that he had grown to love over the years, was his sister. It was a shocking reveal and one of the greatest realizations of his life.
18. Telling Leia The Truth
Luke knew his destiny was approaching fast and so he made sure to tell Leia everything. As he watched her take in the information he wished he could stay with her and they could discuss what it meant to be brother and sister in full but that was not to be. He left her with the happiness of at least knowing that he wasn’t as alone as he thought he was in the universe.
19. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
The Emperor was ecstatic to sink his claws into young Luke Skywalker and watch as he became his new apprentice but Luke wasn’t going to let that happen. Yes, he lost control as Darth Vader threatened to turn Leia to the Dark Side but he was stronger than that. He threw away his lightsaber, looked Palpatine in the eye, and declared that he was a Jedi. It is one of the greatest Luke moments in Star Wars and it truly was his defining moments as a Jedi Knight.
20. Revealing the Man Behind the Mask
Darth Vader had sacrificed himself for his son and with his life quickly draining away he asked Luke to remove his helmet so he could look at him with his human eyes. Luke immediately obliged and as he saw the face of his father a look of pride and immense emotion crossed his face. This was the man that was Anakin Skywalker, this was the face of his father, and it was a beautiful moment. But just as quickly as he gained his father he lost him as he succumbed to death, making the scene both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
It’s been thirty years and Luke has mysteriously disappeared. Everyone, good and bad, is searching desperately for him but he supposedly can’t be found. And then, one day as he stands on the cliff of Ahch-To, he hears someone behind him. He turned and saw a girl standing there watching him with an expression of immense surprise. And then she presented to him his own lightsaber!
It was a nightmare for him. He had thrown that other side of him away (literally in this scene,) he had made sure to place himself in exile on a planet he figured no one would find and yet he still couldn’t escape the power of the Force. He had no idea that the arrival of this strange girl would end up accelerating him on his journey to his eventual fate.
22. Telling the Truth
During the second training session, Luke told Rey why he placed himself in exile. He told of how Kylo Ren went mad and destroyed the Jedi temple but this wasn’t the full truth. Later on in the movie when she demands to know the truth he sadly reveals to her what really happened that fateful night. Since his failure in his nephew, he had never been to forgive himself for his brash actions. If he hadn’t reacted so quickly what might’ve happened? Would Ben Solo have still gone to the Dark Side or would he have remained a Jedi? Having to face the nightmare that was that night again was the turning point in his journey and it helped further spur him onward to become the Jedi he knew the galaxy needed again.
23. Another Lesson Learned
After Rey left Ahch-To Luke was determined to burn down the Jedi temple, hence destroying the last remnants of the Jedi, but he faltered. Yoda visited him and helped finish his decision as he set the tree on fire from a strike of lightning. This was a beautiful scene because even in his old age Yoda was still teaching him lessons. It showed that we, as humans, never are too old to learn something and that idea was what made this scene so special. As it shows Luke and Yoda watching the temple burn they both know that their era of Jedi was officially coming to an end but a new generation of Jedi, led by Rey, was coming to fruition.
24. A Reunion with Leia
Luke understood that when he cut himself off from the Force and hid away from the galaxy that he had hurt Leia. She was his support system, she was his sister, but more importantly, she was his best friend, and making the decision to never see her again was probably the most painful decision in his entire life.
When he did see her one last time he was relieved to see her treat him as if he had never left. It’s one of the more emotional scenes in The Last Jedi and it’s all the more potent due to Carrie Fisher’s unfortunate passing. It’s also just a powerful scene in general. Luke had returned one last time and that was a beautiful thing to see.
25. Facing Kylo Ren
Luke had failed Ben Solo but he still wasn’t finished being his teacher. His confrontation with the fallen Jedi is not only one of the greatest scenes in all of Star Wars but it has so much emotional significance. As he dodges Kylo Ren’s sweeping blows it already showcases how awesome Luke is and then when you find out he’s just a mirage my jaw dropped. This scene truly highlights how powerful Luke Skywalker has become and the impactful significance it has to Kylo Ren’s story. Luke Skywalker is the bomb and Rian Johnson helped bring that to life at the end of this movie.
26. A Master’s Transcendence
Luke Skywalker’s story was complete. He had saved the Resistance, he had seen Leia one last time, and he had conveyed to Kylo Ren that he would always be with him. His time as a mortal was over and it was now time for a new journey as he became one with the Force. It’s a beautiful way to end his story and one very worthy of the Star Wars legend.
While Luke Skywalker might be dead his impact lives on throughout the galaxy and I am thrilled to see what his sacrifice will help achieve in The Rise of Skywalker.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!