TLJ loves the hell out of heroism, so I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. I just fundamentally understand the movie differently than you, I guess.
Would you be able to show some examples of that? Because TLJ is pretty much a de-construction of Star Wars hero narrative. There are no heroes in TLJ.
- The Jedi are corrupted, Luke stepped away because of it and because of it he could not be the hero Rey wanted him to be;
- The resistance is just as crooked as the “bad guys” from the first order, buying black market weapons to fund their ideology;
- Poe is a wrong doer who doesn’t care about the lives of his comrades, only glory;
- Rey couldn’t be a hero, since wan’t trained and by the end of the movie she is still holding on to the prospects of someone taking her in as a pupil;
- Finn tries an act of heroism, the movie stops him;
- Holdo does an act of heroism, but she wasn’t written as a likeable character. Constantly opposing the characters the audience knew and loved (poe);
Personally I don’t see any acts of heroism in TLJ, simply because the stakes aren’t that high in the movie.
Well, the old “idealism and cyncism are not actually opposites” conversation applies here. You can’t deconstruct if you didn’t understand, you don’t become disillusioned without having ideals in the first place. And idealism is just being cynical enough to stand up and take action when no one else will, anyway. They feed into each other - without one another it’s just hopeless pessimism, or naivete.
I’ve discussed this at length on the board before, so forgive me anyone who has to endure this again, but to me TLJ only reinforces heroism by putting heroic idealism through the ringer. Yes, it seems like those traditional examples are more or less refuted in some way - but that complicated tightrope to do the right thing is what makes heroism strong and noble. Even as far back as ESB, the dark side is dangerous because of how easy it is. Fear, anger, hatred, etc. It won’t look like evil incarnate, it’ll seduce your good intentions, exploit your selfish desires.
It is the pursuit of “doing a heroic act” that is a “trick of a dark side”, if you want to look at it that way. Poe and Finn were just looking for a fight, a last stand like in those stories, without understanding what made them heroic in the first place. All heroism really takes is making the right purely good choice in the face of disillusionment.
It’s clumsy, but TLJ reminds us how “we won” in ROTJ. Luke as the son who loved his father, not a Jedi who defeated the Emperor and Vader. Vader not as a Sith Lord who became uncorrupted, but a broken man who realized he still had a choice. The elements that tend to be focused on in those narratives is the sacrifice, the Jedi, the light and the dark - but TLJ brings it back to the people behind it, just making choices. To save the ones they loved.
TLJ doesn’t say, “hey if the bad guys are winning, just give up and run!” It does say, “if the bad guys are winning, that’s why you should keep fighting! live another day” Because there is no endpoint, no perfect character arc or happily ever after. Believing there is, is what leads to disappointment. TLJ fleshes out what it means to follow the OT’s example in a messy real world. It deconstructs by showing us that always lingering element of futility - but comes back to reinforce the value of standing up to it over and over again no matter what. The future as more important than "the end."
The stakes being low(er) emphasizes how noble deeds don’t have to be relegated to one big hero in one big moment. Waiting for one is the wrong move, when we all have the capability for greatness in ourselves. Your heroes are just like you, anyway. Being a hero isn’t a job title, nor is it an exclusive club for “legends.” Our small choices together can make a big impact.