If You Hate 'The Last Jedi' For Not Being Star Wars Enough, You're Missing The Point
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As anyone with a working Internet connection should know, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has ruffled the feathers of some of the Star Wars franchise's more passionate fandom. Many of those unhappy with the newest installment are accusing it of straying too far from the original Star Wars. But, here's the thing, if you hate The Last Jedi for not being Star Wars enough, then you've missed the entire point of the franchise.
There are many reasons why people are angry about The Last Jedi, from the long list of unanswered questions (who is Snoke?) to the lack of satisfying conclusions (Rey's parents are just....nobodies?). But the main reason fans have taken umbrage to The Last Jedi is Luke Skywalker's role in it. For a majority of the film, Luke isn't the young, strapping, hopeful hero he was in the original trilogy. Instead he's disillusioned after having lost faith in the Force and the Jedi. And, after making one final stand against Kylo Ren, he dies pretty unceremoniously, becoming one with the Force and disappearing into the suns.
But, let's not kid ourselves: fans who are actively campaigning against The Last Jedi aren't upset about how Luke died, they're upset that the movie wasn't about him. And, as the reaction to The Last Jedi has made exceptionally clear, there is a group of fans that believe that, unless Star Wars is about Luke Skywalker (or at least related to him in some familial way), it's not a real Star Wars movie.
In fact, fans are so incensed at the idea that Luke Skywalker isn't the center of the Star Wars universe anymore, they're taking action. Henry Walsh of Georgia took to Change.org to start a petition asking for Disney to "strike Star Wars Episode VIII from the official canon." Created on Dec. 15, 2017, the petitioned garnered over 20,000 signatures in just four days. "Episode VIII was a travesty. It completely destroyed the legacy of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi," Walsh wrote in his petition. The letter asks Disney not just to officially strike The Last Jedi from the record, but also to remake it "to redeem Luke Skywalker's legacy, integrity, and character." After seeing his petition go viral, Walsh updated the page, saying he'd prefer to abandon its original intent in favor of a more "healthy direction," but he also does not revoke his initial assessment that The Last Jedi should not be canon.
It's true that the Luke we see in The Last Jedi is not the one we last saw in Return of the Jedi, but that's a good thing. Star Wars has always been bigger than Luke Skywalker, from the very first minute of A New Hope. He's not even mentioned in the first opening crawl. Contrary to popular belief, fans weren't introduced to the galaxy far far away through the eyes of Luke, they were introduced to it through the conflict between the Rebels and the Galactic Empire. Star Wars has always been about the struggle between Light and Dark and the rise of a new generation of heroes — both themes very much at the center of The Last Jedi. Star Wars was never the Luke Skywalker saga, and it's time for fans come to grips with that truth.
Aside from the fact that Star Wars was never, and should never be, the Luke Skywalker show, the idea that The Last Jedi isn't Star Wars is ridiculous simply because it is a rejection of the ingenuity that made Star Wars a hit in the first place. When audiences first crowded into packed theaters to see A New Hope, they didn't do it to watch a movie they had seen a million times before. They went in looking for something new — hoping for something new. For fans now to say they want every new Star Wars movie to remain the same is absurd, and denies a new generation the thrill of seeing a movie and a story they've never seen before. Moreover, wanting new Star Wars directors to stay in a box created by the original trilogy is incredibly limiting. In other words, it's the complete opposite of the legacy of innovation George Lucas has built.
Mourn Luke Skywalker if you must, but don't confuse him with the spirit of Star Wars. In his final moments in The Last Jedi, Luke understood that the fight between Light and Dark was bigger than him, and now fans have to accept that the Star Wars franchise is bigger than the original trilogy. In the words of Kylo Ren, "Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to." He may be a villain, but there's no denying he's onto something. To move forward, sometimes you have to let go of the past.