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Rian Johnson Considered Including Force-Ghost Anakin Skywalker In The Last Jedi

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi represents a swift left turn for the long-running franchise. After J.J. Abrams' reboot of the franchise, 2015's The Force Awakens, trod very familiar, A-New-Hope-shaped ground, writer-director Rian Johnson decided to take the Star Wars familiar and flip it upside down with 2017's The Last Jedi.

One of the biggest ways Johnson set out to subvert expectations was with the return of farmer-turned-Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While the original Star Wars trilogy presented Luke as a wide-eyed idealist even in the worst of times, The Last Jedi depicted Skywalker in a markedly different manner. Johnson decided that the years in self-imposed exile would turn Skywalker into someone decidedly more curmudgeonly. The Luke Skywalker we meet in The Last Jedi is a hermit whose perceived failures have led him to believe that the Jedi Order must come to an end.

Despite the fact that The Last Jedi came out several years ago, fans of the franchise still have a lot of questions for Johnson about why he chose to take both Luke's and Star Wars' story in the direction he did. One major question in particular circles around a surprise guest appearance: Yoda. Since the film's release, fans have wondered whether or not there might have been another Jedi Master who could have appeared in The Last Jedi instead — and Johnson has now provided the answer.

Why Yoda was a better choice than Anakin for The Last Jedi

On December 1, 2020, Collider's senior TV editor Liz Shannon Miller tweeted, "Silly question: "Did @rianjohnson personally title STAR WARS Episode 8 'The Last Jedi' or was that title handed to him?" It turns out that Rian Johnson was listening. "It was me, had it very early in the writing process," Johnson answered

Naturally, once Johnson answered one Star Wars question, the floodgates opened. The big question was asked by @DarthBoring, who tweeted, "Did you ever consider Anakin's ghost showing up to speak with Luke and/or Rey?"

As a reminder, when Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracks down Luke Skywalker, he's hiding out Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi Order. One of the more interesting locales on the planet is an ancient, hollowed-out tree that contains the original Jedi texts. Luke intends to burn the tree down, but balks when he's visited by the Force ghost of his former master, Yoda. However, Yoda — not Luke — ends up burning down the tree using Force lightning, explaining that the ancient Jedi texts weren't exactly "page turners."

It turns out that Johnson considered the possibility that Anakin, Luke's father, might be the right character to guide Luke through this moment. 

"Briefly for the tree burning scene," Johnson wrote in response to @DarthBoring, confirming that a father-son reunion nearly transpired in The Last Jedi. "But Luke's relationship was with [Darth] Vader [and] not really Anakin, which seemed like it would complicate things more than that moment allowed. Yoda felt like the more impactful teacher for that moment."

It's true that Yoda (and Obi-Wan Kenobi) were Luke's teachers as he learned the Jedi ways. Still, it's hard not to imagine what might have been if Hayden Christensen had the chance to reprise his role and share the screen with Hamill for the first time (without the aid of a special-edition release).