Quality article that - enjoyed reading it - nice one.
Agree. Really insightful take on the journey - Luke’s in-universe as well as actual. I’ve tried to make that same point many times here as well as an Indiana Jones board I lurked on many years ago. It’s very hard to explain to twenty-year-olds how different things will be 40 years from now.
When you have no framework for what four decades even feels like, you can’t possibly grasp how the journey changes you. So many things that seem of major importance to you at 20 will be long forgotten when you’re 60.
Forty years on from that summer long ago, I’m not even similar to who I was at 15. I would have been disappointed if all we got was ROTJ Luke with a beard. I may have done a scene or two a little differently, but I have no problem with Luke having changed since he was a farm boy.
It’s interesting that one of the things most polarizing about the film is also one of the things they handled so well. It says more about the audience than it does about the movie.
I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you - I too would have been disappointed with a bearded ROTJ Luke - but I wonder if TLJ Luke really reflects 40 years’ worth of growth/change or has he reverted back to a pre-ROTJ state? Even Yoda steps in with some sanctimony about Luke’s “always looking to the horizon” (or something), but it was Luke’s romantic idealism that elevated him beyond the rigid ‘just kill the bad guys’ attitude of the old orthodoxy.
I’m really on the fence with all of this myself. As a fan of the (never-filmed) Kurtz version of ROTJ, I love the idea of a disillusioned Luke going into exile and struggling with the murky edges of Jedi ethics and the Force. But at the same time I’m not sure I can see Luke ever actually quitting entirely.
I’m also not certain we really want our heroes to be like normal people anyway. As a big fan of Conan the Barbarian, I recall reading somewhere that writer/director John Milius intended a sequel where old King Conan had lost his mojo and was sitting around getting fat and letting his fighting skills go to hell. Again, a disillusioned old Conan being somewhat broken and grizzled on his throne sounds cool. But slow and fat? Sure, normal people get slow and fat - but not Conan. It’s just not in his character, realistic or no.
I think the controversy around Luke is more about whether his actions are in character and true to the mythos, rather than whether people just can’t handle change. It’s a bit like having a movie about Spider-Man in his 60s where Peter Parker is all “screw responsibility - just give me power!”. It might be feasible that he go through such a jarring ethical conversion, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a good Spidey tale.
Again, not disagreeing so much as just thinking out loud…