Who is Luke Skywalker?
Luke Skywalker’s place in the Star Wars Universe is unassailable as one of the most powerful Jedi Masters to have ever lived, as well as an essential piece of the successful rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Portrayed by now legendary film icon Mark Hamill since the premiere of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1978, Luke Skywalker remains a pop culture titan to this day. Consider by some to be the “Chosen One” foretold by ancient Jedi prophecy, it is impossible to overstate the importance of Luke Skywalker to the epic Skywalker Saga. His shadow looms large over both the Star Wars prequel trilogy and sequel trilogy, while his heroism in the original trilogy has inspired a generations of Star Wars fans.
Luke Skywalker energized and excited fans of the Disney+ streaming series The Mandalorian in 2020 when the character appeared, portrayed by a de-aged Mark Hamill, with his signature green lightsaber glowing brightly. The popularity of the instantly iconic appearance has given rise to rumors of a possible young Luke Skywalker series — possibly starring Sebastian Stan — from The Mandalorian creators Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni.
Luke Skywalker’s Origins
Birth of Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker was born during the end of the Clone Wars, shortly after the pronouncement of the Galactic Empire by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, secret Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious. This proclamation followed the infamous Order 66 that saw Jedi around the galaxy rendered nearly to extinction.
Order 66 declared Jedi enemies of the state, and allowed Palpatine to mandate the clone army to turn on Jedi all across the galaxy, driving Jedi to near extinction. This galactic event is known as the Great Jedi Purge. The Jedi who survived were forced into hiding as the Empire sought all remaining Jedi — or anyone who displayed Force-sensitivity — for execution.
Sith Lord, Darth Vader led the charge on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, home of the Jedi Order where he slaughtered many Jedi, including younglings. Order 66 led to Palpatine being elevated to Galactic Emperor.
Luke Skywalker, along with his twin sister Leia Organa, was born to his mother Padmé Amidala, who died in childbirth. The father of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa was former Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, who had by the time of his children’s birth become Sith Lord, Darth Vader. He believed that his children had died along with their mother — a lie told to him by Emperor Palpatine.
Neither Luke Skywalker nor Leia Organa knew of their true parentage or their relation to one another. While Leia (Carrie Fisher) was taken in by Senator Bail Organa, Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda ensured the two were separated in an effort to keep them safe from the Galactic Empire.
Early Life of Luke Skywalker
Infant Luke Skywalker was taken to the planet Tatooine by Obi-Wan Kenobi and delivered to Beru and Owen Lars. Owen was the step-brother to Anakin Skywalker, and he and his wife Beru agreed to care for young Luke.
Obi-Wan Kenobi remained hidden in Tatooine in order to keep watch over Luke Skywalker from a distance. The upcoming new series on Disney+, Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi will reportedly take place during this period of time.
Luke led a simple life on Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s moisture farm on the Outer Rim desert planet of Tatooine. He was never told of his true origins, in an effort to protect him from the Galactic Empire. As a bit of Star Wars Skywalker trivia, Luke was told by Uncle Owen that his father was a “navigator on a spice freighter.”
As Luke grew older he showed an adventurous, inquisitive spirit, a natural ability with machinery, and a knack for piloting — as well as a sharpshooter’s eye. He longed to leave his humdrum life behind and explore the galaxy.
Luke Skywalker’s Star Wars saga begins
In Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) the sequence that set in motion the Star Wars original trilogy occurred. Uncle Owen acquired two droids from local Jawas for helping around the moisture farm. Those droids were C-3P0 and R2-D2 and would become beloved by Star Wars fans worldwide.
While tinkering with R2-D2, Luke Skywalker inadvertently uncovered part of a hologram message — a desperate plea from Princess Leia Organa seeking the help of a person named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke, of course, had no idea who Obi-Wan was at this point, but he would soon come to know the old Jedi Knight well.
Princess Leia had hidden plans for the Galactic Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star within the memory of R2-D2. Luke Skywalker would go on to team up with Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), and the rest of the Rebel Alliance to destroy the Death Star.
Luke Skywalker’s role in Star Wars
Luke is well-known for mastery and command of the Force. It was quite uncommon for a Force-sensitive to be trained as a Jedi at Luke’s age — a teenager by the time Obi-Wan took him on. It was considered dangerous by the Jedi Order to train someone who had developed many attachments — for fear these attachments would lead to adopting the Dark Side of the Force. Even under his unusual circumstances, Luke Skywalker achieved the rank of Jedi Master and is indeed one of the most powerful manipulators of the Force in Star Wars lore.
What is a Jedi Master?
The Jedi Order were defenders of the Galactic Republic, champions of peace and justice in the galaxy. A Jedi was an individual sensitive to the Force and able to wield its power, according to a set of morals known as the Jedi Code. Those Jedi known for their wisdom and supreme ability with the Force could attain the rank of Jedi Master. A Jedi Master rank could not be achieved without a Jedi first having trained a Padawan to the rank of Jedi Knight.
Luke Skywalker began his Jedi training in unorthodox circumstances, due to the ongoing Galactic Civil War. He began his Jedi training under Obi-Wan Kenobi. Following Kenobi’s death at the hands of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker sought out Jedi Master Yoda to continue his training, as depicted in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Before Yoda passed away, he pronounced that Luke Skywalker’s training would only be complete once he faced Darth Vader — which he did aboard the Death Star II.
What was Luke Skywalker’s role in the Galactic Civil War?
Luke Skywalker was essential to the rebellion in the fight against the Galactic Empire. The crew of friends assembled in A New Hope (1978) — Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) proved to be crucial to the rebellion’s efforts in the Galactic Civil War at every turn. Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan were able to get Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, and the valuable Death Star plans to the Rebel Alliance. Luke volunteered to fly with the Rebel Alliance in the Battle of Yavin against the Death Star. Skywalker became a hero to the rebels when he exploited the Death Star’s key design flaw and destroyed the Empire’s superweapon.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) had fallen in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) but was able to communicate with Luke through the Force. Using deep focus, Luke was able to channel the Force as he successfully fired a proton torpedo that blew up the Death Star.
In the subsequent films of the Star Wars original trilogy, Luke’s value to the Rebel Alliance was as a symbol of hope — both because of his heroism at the Battle of Yavin and his connection to Darth Vader.
In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke learns that Darth Vader is his father, Anakin Skywalker. In Return of the Jedi (1983), Luke believes that there is still some good within Vader. He tells him as much, explaining to Vader that he had an opportunity to kill him before, but he merely cut off his hand. Vader responds that he is too far gone to the Dark Side. In the end, Vader is moved by the altruistic spirit of his son, and destroys Emperor Palpatine, ending his control of the Galactic Empire.
Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Order
The lightsabers of Luke Skywalker
The preferred weapon of the Jedi Order was the lightsaber. The “elegant weapon for a more civilized age” was considered the primary instrument of peacekeeping by the Jedi. Luke was given the Skywalker lightsaber by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. The blue-bladed lightsaber had belonged to Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker. When Anakin lost the lightsaber in the Duel on Mustafar with Obi-Wan, Kenobi kept the lightsaber for years before giving it to Luke. Luke lost the lightsaber in a duel with Sith Lord Darth Vader, along with his hand, in The Empire Strikes Back.
As a Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker constructs his own lightsaber, and its kyber crystal emitted a green blade. The green lightsaber remained with him even during his self-imposed isolation during the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Luke Skywalker rebuilds the Jedi Order
Following the Battle of Endor in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), in the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War, Luke Skywalker elected to re-establish the Jedi Order. With the Republic restored, and the galaxy finally free from Sith influence, Luke knew it was his duty as a Jedi Knight to carry on the legacy of the Jedi.
Following Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker’s story continued in other projects — like Marvel Comics’ Star Wars: Shattered Empire, a graphic novel by Charles Soule The Rise of Kylo Ren, EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II. While many stories from this timeframe are still untold, Star Wars fans know Luke Skywalker was on a quest to collect as much knowledge about the Jedi Order as possible. He sought to learn the secrets of Jedi history from the days of the Old Republic and the High Republic.
Luke eventually started his own Jedi temple with a small assembly of students. The Star Wars sequel trilogy depicted Luke as a Jedi Master, having trained an apprentice to the rank of Jedi Knight. With the Star Wars Expanded Universe — now Star Wars Legends — no longer considered canon, it’s unclear who was the first apprentice of Skywalker’s to reach the rank of Jedi Knight. Possible candidates include Ben Solo / Kylo Ren from the sequel trilogy, his sister Leia Organa Solo, or even Grogu from the Disney+ streaming series, The Mandalorian.
The failure of Luke Skywalker
Luke considered his mission to rebuild the Jedi Order a failure, due to his nephew Ben Solo turning to the Dark Side. Luke Skywalker had trained Ben Solo (Adam Driver) — his nephew, son of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa Solo (Carrie Fisher) — since the boy was 10 years old. As Ben Solo grew in power, Skywalker began to sense the darkness building in Ben. After a confrontation in which Ben Solo believed Skywalker was trying to kill him. Enraged, Ben turned to the Knights of Ren, led by Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order. Snoke eventually took on Ben as his Sith apprentice, and Ben officially turned to the Dark Side as Kylo Ren.
End of Luke Skywalker
How does Luke Skywalker reappear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)?
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) cuts himself off from the Force and goes into isolation following the loss of Ben Solo to the Dark Side. He hides on the remote planet Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi Order and the location of the ancient Jedi texts. Rey (Daisy Ridley), a young Force-sensitive human woman with no knowledge of her parentage, pieces together a map with the help of R2-D2 that leads her to Luke Skywalker.
The Force Awakens (2015) ends with Rey confronting the exiled Luke Skywalker, extending him his old lightsaber.
What happened to Luke Skywalker at the end of The Last Jedi (2017)?
Luke Skywalker’s final battle was a standoff with Kylo Ren and the First Order on Crait in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), the second movie of the sequel trilogy. As the Resistance is desperately trying to escape pursuit by the First Order, they head to an old Rebel base on Crait to make their final stand. Outnumbered and outgunned, the situation was dire for the Resistance until Luke Skywalker appeared to show up, ready for battle. His appearance is, however, a deception meant to allow the Resistance time to escape.
Luke Skywalker uses Force projection as a means of projecting his personage across the galaxy to Crait without actually being there. The site of his old master’s appearance enrages Kylo Ren who trains the full strength of the First Order’s firepower on Skywalker. Of course, Luke is unharmed, of course, as he is just a projection. Following a brief duel with Kylo Ren, Skywalker reveals his deception to Kylo Ren, knowing he’s bought enough time for the Resistance to escape.
The act of the Force projecting was so incredibly taxing, that it cost Luke Skywalker his life. Luke passes away peacefully on Ahch-To becoming one with the Force. Despite his physical death, Luke appeared as a Force ghost in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). The Jedi Master appears to his apprentice Rey at a hopeless moment to offer guidance. Luke’s voice was also one of many Jedi Force ghosts who provided Rey the power to overcome Palpatine on Exegol in the climax of The Rise of Skywalker.
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