Luke Skywalker became a prominent character again after The Last Jedi and while some Star Wars fans highly disliked his story arc there were others, including me, who loved Rian Johnson’s vision for the elderly Jedi Master.
So today on the The Defining Moments I’m going to celebrate his journey throughout the five films that he has graced. Be Warned. This post will be a longread due to Luke’s extensive journey. I thank you for heeding this warning. Now enjoy the post.
1. A Secret Message
Luke was a moisture farmer on Tatooine. While he loved his uncle and aunt so he didn’t complain too much 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.
Before him was a hologram of a beautiful princess who was in trouble. His imagination immediately began to run wild as the outside 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.
2. 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 Ben Kenobi was, in fact, the same person as Obi-Wan Kenobi who the girl in the message was pleading for help. He had no clue that this simple rescue would lead to the beginning of his destiny.
3. Learning About the Force
In the old man, Kenobi’s home, Luke repaired C-3PO and talked with the elder. They ended up discussing about Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker the Jedi Knight and Darth Vader the murderer of his father, both the same person but Luke wouldn’t know this until later in his life. The most important thing about this scene, however, is when Obi-Wan tells him of the Force for the first time. Luke doesn’t fully understand what he’s talking about but he will. He will.
4. 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 knew their next destination. His home!
He rushed home to warn his uncle and aunt and when he reached the house fear clung to his heart as he beheld the nightmarish spectacle. He jumped out of his speeder car, calling his uncle and aunt’s names, and then…he saw them. This is one of the most horrific moments in Star Wars as the camera sweeps the destruction and then stops on their charred skeletons. It’s a haunting image and the moment that ultimately made Luke want to become a Jedi.
5. Rescuing Princess Leia
Luke had been on an adventure that he would’ve never expected but as he and his friends took secret residence in the Death Star he discovered that the princess in that secret hologram was aboard the same 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 immediately found her captivating due to her tenacious attitude. She wasn’t a damsel in distress and he instantly loved that about her. Their friendship would end up becoming one of the brightest occurrences of his life.
5. Ben Kenobi Dies
After losing his uncle and aunt Ben Kenobi was the only person to fill that gap. Ben was his mentor but he also was his friend so imagine the utter horror he felt when he saw the old man sliced down by the scary man in black. While it wasn’t the scenario Luke would’ve ever wanted it was what helped him propel him into being the hero that he needed to be.
6. 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 Death Star. Luke was supposedly just another rebel pilot but he was much more than that.
When it came to the point when it was time for him to take his turn at the trench run it was a nail biting moment for the rebels, for the Death Star was within seconds of destroying the rebel base on Yavin 4. It was at this moment in his life when he first trusted in the power of the Force. The mystical power helped guide him pull 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.
7. Receiving a Medal
Luke could’ve never imagined that one day he would be a hero receiving a medal for his bravery and valor but he did. It is one of the most inspiring tales ever told in cinema; of a young boy whose dreams took him beyond the stars and on an adventure unlike anything he could’ve dreamed about. Star Wars is the equivalent of a modern-age fairy tale with princesses and unexpected heroes and it’s because of this simple template that Star Wars is still booming to this day.
8. Luke Is Told To Go To Dagobah
It’s years after the events of 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 a Hoth beast he manages to escape but he is far from home and you cannot survive the snowy, inhospitable tundra of Hoth at night. In his stupor he saw Ben Kenobi’s ghost which then told 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 becoming a fullblown Jedi.
9. Luke Discovers That The Wierd 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 miniscule laughing alien eating disgusting slop and sitting amongst slithering snakes. When he realized that this little green, wrinkled thing was actually Yoda it was a shocking moment for him and would be his first lesson.
11. The Cave
This scene always confuses me in a thrilling way as Luke goes into that cave and faces what he thinks is Darth Vader. He fights the dark lord, defeats him, and as he watches the helmet explode he sees his own face. It’s a startling vision of what Luke could become, or is the vision telling Luke that Darth Vader is him, referring to him being his father? Whatever the case it’s one of the more fascinating scenes in The Empire Strikes Back.
12. Failing The Test
When Luke’s X-Wing finally sunk beneath the murky water Yoda instructed him to use the Force to life 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, yet failed another test.
13. A Haunting Vision
In the midst of another training exercise Luke received a vision of his friends enduring pain and suffering. While we, of course, know that the vision didn’t become exactly true it’s a haunting vision because while it didn’t happen the pain and suffering that he envisioned would eventually come to pass much, much later. *shudder* Creepy.
14. 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 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 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 becoming a stronger person.
15. 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; that he is Darth Vader as well in every sense of the Force if he just chose the wrong path. Thankfully he didn’t.
16. A Sibling Revealed
When Luke saw Ben Kenobi he wasn’t happy. He had led Luke to believe that his father was a Jedi 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, with the urging on of Ben, 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 long life.
17. 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 about 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.
18. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
The Emperor was ecstatic to sink his claws into the young man, 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 definining moments as a Jedi Knight.
19. Revealing the Man Behind the Mask
Darth Vader had sacrificed himself for his son, Luke, 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 at once beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
It’s been thirty years and Luke has mysteriously disappeared. Individuals, good and bad, are searching desperately for him but he supposedly can’t be found. And then, one day as he was standing on the cliff of Ach-To he heard someone behind him. He looked 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.
21. Training Rey
The girl, Rey was her name, highly intrigued Luke. She had the Force, there was no doubt about that, but there was something else about her. Something disturbingly powerful. As she begged him to train her he obliged, but only to show her why the ways of the Jedi needed to end.
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 has 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 Ach-To Luke was determined to burn down the Jedi temple 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 the backs of 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 himself away from the galaxy that he had hurt Leia. She was his support system, she was his sister, but more importantly, she was his friend, and making the decision to never see her again was probably an agonizing decision for him.
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 done teaching him a lesson. 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 was done. 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 his 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 Episode IX.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a marvelous day. May the Force Be With You.