Whenever I absorb any form of entertainment, my mind constantly searches for any similarities that have appeared in other bodies of work. I don’t do this to say, “Oh, so-and-so did it first.” I do this because certain things from the past have left strong impressions on me so much so that the echoes of these stories still resonate in my mind. When I first watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I couldn’t help but see small comparisons to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Tron: Legacy.
When Tron: Legacy came out in 2010—about 28 years after the original film came out in 1982—it was praised for its dazzling visual effects, but it was criticized because it lacked plot and the characters had no depth. Regardless of these criticisms, Tron: Legacy brought concepts to the table that didn’t seem all that fictional, especially given how fast technology is growing today. In my opinion, it was the kind of sequel that changed the game, and in many ways, Star Wars: The Last Jedi did the same.
The Son of Flynn / The Daughter of No One
Sam Flynn and Rey are two characters who want answers about things that happened in the past. For Sam, despite having appeared uncaring and like the past didn’t hurt him, he wanted to know what happened to his father. For Rey, she wanted to know more about her parents.
In their separate journeys, both of them were tossed into a world that, at first, was beyond understanding. For Sam, it was the Grid, and for Rey, it was the Force. Along the way, they discovered certain truths. Sam learned that his father was trapped for 20 years in a digital world, while Rey discovered a more somber tale about how her parents sold her for drinking money. The results of the situations didn’t stop them, however. Finding out the truth allowed them to move forward in a purposeful manner.
“The only way to win is not to play.” / “This is not going to go the way you think.”
Both Kevin and Luke warned Sam and Rey, respectively, prior to them leaving and acting out on their own. The two young characters rushed into action and went straight into dangerous territory. Sam left his father’s hiding place and eventually found himself at the End of Line Club. Rey left the island where Luke had been hiding and delivered herself straight to the Supremacy. Both actions were impulsive and done in the hopes of making things right again, but it resulted in dramatically shifting the game pieces around and putting into motion certain events that would inevitably require the direct intervention of Kevin and Luke.
Zuse / DJ
While we don’t know much about DJ and how he came to believe in the “Don’t Join” ideology, we can only assume that he was wronged at some point in his life or that he saw things that forced him carve out his own path instead of joining either side of the war.
Zuse was also a one-shot type of character who did things for his own benefit. Once known to have faith in the users, Zuse abandoned that point of view and made certain alliances in the interest of self-preservation. When the time came to potentially help Sam, he sold him out in order to get control of Tron City. In The Last Jedi, DJ also did the same to Finn, Rose, and the remaining forces of the Resistance—everything that Rey essentially stands for—in exchange for freedom and money.
The Last ISO / The Last Jedi
When Sam found out the truth about Quorra, his father’s apprentice, Kevin described her as “the last ISO.” Kylo Ren described Luke in a similar way, “The Resistance is dead! The war is over! And when I kill you, I will have killed the last Jedi!” Luke confidently stated that he won’t be the last Jedi, and as he said that, the scene transitioned over to Rey. She will be the future of the Jedi, and along those lines, Quorra represents the future of what Kevin called “biodigital jazz.”
Clu & Rinzler / Kylo Ren
When I look at Clu, I see someone who was eager to live up to expectations and desperate to complete the tasks embedded in his programming, specifically those pertaining to creating the perfect system. Similarly, Kylo Ren is willing to destroy everyone—the Sith, the Jedi, the Rebels, Luke, Snoke—all in the pursuit of bringing a new order to the galaxy and becoming what he believes he is destined to be.
Relentless and willing to stop at nothing, Clu staged a coup and Tron suffered a major defeat at his hands only to be repurposed later as Rinzler. Despite being Clu’s primary enforcer throughout the movie, there was a sliver of him that remembered his primary motivation—to fight for the users. That part of his programming kicked in when he saw Kevin Flynn attempting to escape with Quorra and his son. Seeing him jostled his memory and made him turn back to the light—back to Tron. There are some in the Star Wars fan community who’d like to see Kylo Ren turn back to Ben Solo, but on a scale of Rinzler to Clu, Kylo Ren is definitely closer to Clu’s side by the end of The Last Jedi.
The Purge / Luke’s Jedi Temple
Patience. Staying still. Waiting. These are things that are difficult to achieve, especially when someone is young and inexperienced. As mentioned before, both Sam and Rey jumped to action when they received the slightest piece of information that could help them set things right.
For the Masters in these stories, specifically Luke and Kevin, their response after experiencing terrible losses was to retreat and wait. For Flynn, he lost the ISOs during the Purge. For Luke, he lost his temple and his students. They also helped create the evil that eventually brought about that destruction in their own separate lives. Kevin created Clu in his image and programmed him with a task that was unachievable. Luke, in a moment of weakness and fear, made a mistake that cost him everything and that gave Ben Solo the push he needed to join the dark side and become Kylo Ren.
Following these tragic events, both of them retreated and found a hiding place, where they essentially waited to die. Kevin was trapped with no way of escaping and deliberately kept himself out of reach, and if Clu hadn’t lured Sam and Sam hadn’t interfered, Kevin would have died in the digital world. Luke also kept himself out of reach and made his own prison on the island of Ahch-to, where he explicitly said that he came there to die—and he did.
Flynn Lives / Luke Lives
“Goodbye, kiddo.” / “See you around, kid.”
For some on the Grid, Kevin Flynn was like a god. He was, after all, the creator. During his many years of being trapped on the Grid, he became rather spiritual, wearing Zen bracelets and often relying on meditation. Luke, on the other hand, closed himself off from the Force. That didn’t take away from the fact that he, like Kevin, had the power to make the greatest difference. Both of them knew how the system worked and how to manipulate it to their advantage. Older, wiser, and focused on the ones they cared about the most, Kevin and Luke made the ultimate sacrifice. Kevin reintegrated with Clu, while Luke did the unthinkable and projected himself onto another planet. They removed themselves from the equation in order to give their loved ones the necessary time they needed to escape.
(Unlike Kevin, who just ceased to exist, Luke has the ability to return as a Force Ghost, so he can still be part of the equation. Personally, I like to think Kevin becomes part of the system and turns into a digital Force ghost, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part.)
While it was heartbreaking to lose Kevin and Luke, their names and stories continue to be shared. On the day of his first board meeting, Sam revealed a “Flynn Lives” t-shirt, and The Last Jedi ended with children on Canto Bight retelling a story about Luke’s adventures. They continue to be legends in their own ways, inspiring a new generation of computer users and Force users within their own worlds.
What were some other movies or TV shows that came to mind when you watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Share them in the comments section below.