‘The Last Jedi’: What Luke’s First Dialogue Says About the Future of ‘Star Wars’

For the first time since 1977, it’s beginning to look as if Luke Skywalker has once again become the audience stand-in for the Star Wars franchise — at least when it comes to the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The sneak footage shown to Disney shareholders Wednesday gave Luke the chance to voice the question that fans have been asking since 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when he asks Rey, “who are you?”

Of course, there’s every possibility Luke means it in a more literal sense than Star Wars fans; after all, to him, she’s a stranger who’s shown up on his island hideaway, offering him a lightsaber. Why wouldn’t he want to know who she is? He hasn’t seen the last movie, and so doesn’t know anything about her adventures with Han, Finn et al, nor why she suddenly has the Millennium Falcon. “Who are you?” is the most appropriate thing he could say to her.

But the question manages to make Luke more relatable to the audience than he has been since the first Star Wars movie. After three installments that first elevated him away from the viewer by stripping him of his “everyman” status in terms of abilities and later lineage, and then removed him from the narrative altogether, he once again comes back to the position of not being the character who…