Star Wars: The Last Jedi was, in many ways, a significant departure from everything that had come before in the Star Wars franchise. So much so, in fact, that it turns out the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens had to be changed to accommodate it. The newest film revealed that Luke Skywalker had cut himself off from the Force following his self-imposed exile. When Mark Hamill read that in the script, it resulted in phone calls to the filmmakers, because apparently, there had been plans to have the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens include Luke being surrounding by floating boulders when Rey finally finds him. According to Hamill…
When we were doing VII, Rian said, ‘We might have boulders floating to show your Force emanating’, so I was led to believe that I still had the Force and it was really strong in me…In fact, when I read VIII before VII came out, I said ‘What?!’ and called J.J. or Rian to say, ‘Are you guys aware of this? Have you seen a cut? Is there floating boulders?’ And they said, ‘No, we caught that and we worked it all out.’
Mark Hamill says, in the video from Mtime that the discussion about floating boulders came from Rian Johnson, but since he’s talking about something that happened while filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens he might have misspoken and meant to say J.J.Abrams. Either that, or at that point Johnson hadn’t finished his treatment of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and decided that Luke was no longer using the Force. Regardless, that idea had to be jettisoned once the final plan for Episode VIII had been laid out.
While Luke’s decision certainly adds a lot of great drama to the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had things gone a different direction it would have been awesome to see an all-powerful Luke Skywalker standing alone on a hilltop surrounded by massive boulders floating in the air due to his immense power. Clearly, considering how many people have taken issue with The Last Jedi‘s depiction of Luke Skywalker, this is exactly the type of Luke they wanted to see.
The fact that this one scene could have been so different, however, does show that this new Star Wars trilogy is being handled a piece at a time, rather than with any sort of overarching plan that was put together at the beginning. During the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens there was no expectation that Luke would be without the Force. These films are being put together closely enough that changes can be made if necessary, but not as a single project.
That’s changed with Episode IX, however, as that script had to start over, and now those writers are stuck with The Last Jedi as it is. If there are elements they would have liked to have changed, that option is gone.