The Last Jedi trailer promises us a Star Wars film unlike any other. The Force has always been the unifying power of the series, but until The Last Jedi, we’ve only looked at it from two angles: light and dark. This binary thinking has led to countless battles and deaths over the ages, and The Last Jedi seems to be saying that it’s time to bring that kind of thinking to an end.
“We can end this destructive conflict…”
Everything we’ve seen in the film series has reinforced the idea that these kinds of institutions are doomed to fail. The Old Republic, the Sith, the Jedi Order, the Galactic Empire, and even the New Republic have all been eradicated only to be replaced with some other organization that believes it is right. Luke clearly tried to do the same thing after the events of Return of the Jedi and was caught in the same cycle of violence when Ben Solo rebelled and murdered Luke’s new Jedi Order.
The path that Luke is now on implies something much more ambiguous and complicated than anything we’ve seen before in a Star Wars film. What Luke’s decision to abandon the Jedi says is that the idea of institutionalized faith cannot succeed. And that’s a big step for Star Wars to take.
“I am no Jedi, but I know the Force.”
The Force Awakens began to sew these seeds with the character of Maz Kanata. In the past, we’ve often referred to characters with no particular alignment with the Force as simply a “Force-sensitive” or a “Force-user.” Our only way of looking at the Force has been through the lens of rivalry, but there have been instances where those strong in the Force have not given themselves over to a one-sided belief.
The Last Jedi is putting forth that the Force is “much bigger” than any one belief structure. It echoes the real world idea of people who acknowledge a spiritual component to their lives and the universe, but they don’t subscribe to any one religious entity or establishment. The concepts of spirituality are so much grander than the human limitations we’ve put on them. The Last Jedi is looking to bring that conversation to a fictional universe that some people even treat as a religion.
“It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
Luke has clearly been traumatized and defeated by the events that took place after Return of the Jedi. It’s possible that his pessimistic attitude might be changed with the appearance of Rey. But, is it pessimistic? From what he says in the trailer, it might actually be the best thing to happen to the series in a long time.
We always want to expect the unexpected with our fiction, and The Last Jedi is delivering a huge twist to the established mythos. It’s also bringing in some controversial commentary that feels incredibly mature for the series. Will people see it that way? Will they be upset or elated at this change? Maybe we shouldn’t bottle their reactions into only two categories (see what I did there?).
We’ll certainly learn more when The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.