Has There Been a Plan To Remove Luke Skywalker From Disney Star Wars since 2014?
Disney’s mishandling of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi marked a disastrous turning point for the studio.
Just five years earlier, Disney CEO Bob Iger purchased LucasFilm from George Lucas for $4.5 billion. Disrespecting the hero of the entire franchise seemed like a strange business plan for recouping the cost of that investment and guaranteeing big profits for the future.
Many fans were done with Star Wars. But Lucasfilm had one more chance to restore faith in the fan base.
Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni proved the spirit of the original Star Wars could return in seasons 1 and 2 of The Mandalorian. The second season ended with the surprise and welcome return of Luke, in a remarkable display of swordsmanship as he disposed of Dark Troopers in order to save Mandalorian Din Djarin and take his foundling Grogu to his new Jedi Order to resume the little tyke’s Jedi training.
Luke’s return to form helped viewers forget the disrespect given to Luke in The Last Jedi. Fans speculated if Favreau and Filoni were attempting to erase the travesty of Luke’s treatment by erasing the memory of the Sequel trilogy itself.
Surely Luke’s cameo teased the wider significance of his character in the affairs of the New Republic and the Mandoverse. It was only five years since the Battle of Endor and his defeat of Emperor Palpatine. He was in his prime at just 25 or 26 years of age, and would surely be front and center in engaging with any imminent threat to the galaxy in future installments of Disney Star Wars.
A year later, in The Book of Boba Fett, Luke returned in a larger speaking part. He trains Grogu, while his new Jedi temple is under construction. Also present is Ahsoka Tano, who made her live-action debut in The Mandalorian season 2, discussing the Grodu’s future with the Jedi Master.
But something wasn’t quite right about this scene.
Rather abruptly, Grogu ditched Luke to return to Din Djarin. And not once did Luke and Ahsoka discuss Anakin Skywalker.
This is the first time we’ve seen both the apprentice and the son of Anakin Skywalker interact. Surely, Luke wants to know what his father was like during The Clone Wars and before he fell to the Dark Side. And surely Ahsoka wants to hear Luke talk about Anakin’s redemption and the destruction of Palpatine. Of course, we’re meant to believe that these two have already discussed this. They’ve known each other for a while at this point.
Nonetheless, you don’t leave one of the most important conversations in Star Wars off-camera.
After his return in 2020 and then in 2021, Luke hasn’t been seen since. It seems clear Jon Favreau, the showrunner of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, wanted Luke to play a larger role. But other “factions” within Lucasfilm don’t.
Lucasfilm allegedly held a meeting with toy company Hasbro and a consulting company early this year to discuss that Luke Skywalker would no longer be a main character in Star Wars. Kathleen Kennedy seems to be the main driver behind the decision, and Filoni’s behavior confirms he is right on board.
Favreau is a fan of George Lucas’s original trilogy, and he’s the one who wrote Luke into The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. All his Star Wars projects feature references to OT characters whether it’s Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, or even Bib Fortuna.
Filoni, on the other hand, is focused on his characters who originated before the original trilogy spanned the events of the prequel trilogy, The Clone Wars, and his most recent animated series, Rebels, which was set just a few years before A New Hope.
Since his promotion to Executive Creative Director of LucasFilm in mid-2020, the characters he created in The Clone Wars and Rebels have become the most prominent characters in all Star Wars content.
Ahsoka Tano, who made her debut in The Clone Wars, is his creation, as are Ezra Bridger, Hera Syndulla, and Sabine Wren from Rebels.
Bo-Katan Kryze is another Filoni creation from The Clone Wars, who replaced Din Djarin as the predominant character in season 3 of The Mandalorian. It was a crafty side-step by Filoni. The Mandalorian is an ambiguous title that could refer to any Mandalorian, and there is no doubt that Bo-Katan, the heir to Mandalore, directed the course of season 3’s events.
More importantly, there is circumstantial evidence that Filoni wants to swap out Luke Skywalker with Ezra Bridger in a similar manner. And this dates back to 2014 when the character was first introduced in Rebels.
Ezra Bridger is almost the exact same age as Luke Skywalker. He was born on Empire Day, the exact date when the Empire dissolved the Republic and took control. Luke and Leia were born two days afterward.
The birthdate seems deliberate, though it may have had the opposite effect than what Filoni and Kennedy intended. The proximity of their births has done nothing more than create a mystery around the connection between Luke and Ezra. Is there some connection through the Force between the two? And since Ezra was introduced into live-action in Ahsoka, many have speculated on the meeting between the two and a possible team-up.
However, in Rebels, Ezra is introduced as the primary protagonist to Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character first created by Timothy Zahn in Heir to the Empire, the first Expanded Universe novel in his famous Thrawn trilogy.
Thrawn, the Empire’s greatest military strategist, survived the Battle of Endor to regroup and take charge of the remaining Imperial forces. In the novel, he becomes the primary threat to the fledgling New Republic five years after the Battle of Endor, which just happens to be the time period in which Favreau’s Mandoverse and Filoni’s Ahsoka series are set.
Thrawn is now in live-action and is the main threat to Ahsoka Tano, Ezra Bridger, and Sabine Wren. Referred to as the Heir to the Empire by Ahsoka in an early episode of the series, there seems little doubt about Filoni’s intentions. His characters will replace Luke, Han Solo, and Leia Organa in Zahn’s novels as the protagonists of Thrawn in the upcoming movie set in the New Republic era.
In addition, the Sequel trilogy killed off every single remaining Skywalker and replaced them with Palpatine’s granddaughter. This was another misjudgment made by Disney. One unfortunate reading of this situation is that Palpatine won when his own granddaughter took on the Skywalker name. Her connection to dangerous Dark Side powers still hasn’t been resolved. This ambiguous ending was never Lucasfilm’s intention, but it remains a plot point that is likely to remain overlooked by Disney.
More importantly, it just points to Disney’s desire to eradicate the Skywalkers from Star Wars. The only Skywalker who remains in any major capacity in Disney Star Wars is Anakin, who is now a redeemed Force Ghost and who will only converse with Ahsoka. He isn’t interested in conversing with his son, nor does he bother to warn his grandson, Kylo Ren, from modeling himself on Darth Vader in the Sequel trilogy.
Anakin only exists because he is a major character in Filoni’s The Clone Wars, nothing else.
However, swapping Luke, Leia, and Han with Ezra, Ahsoka, and Sabine Wren in the upcoming Thrawn crossover movie will be an uphill battle for Filoni and Kennedy. While the setup has been years in the making, their plan is pretty obvious. And Ahsoka’s underwhelming viewership numbers confirm there just isn’t the love for his characters that he hopes.
At the end of the day, fans and casual viewers still want to see Luke Skywalker.
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