'The Last Jedi': What's The Matter, Luke?
If you'd spent years in isolation and your nephew, who you were training, was bent on taking over the galaxy, you just might become a little cynical, too.
I am not what you would call a person of faith.
I believe there's some sort of higher power, and I respect everyone's right to believe in the higher power of the religion they follow, but I am not exactly someone who feels compelled by any one religious tenet. I try to live life as any decent person would, with regard for my fellow humans on the planet, because I think that's what humanity should be about. I also believe that at times, one's faith can get shaken, and shaken hard. During those times, I would imagine it's more than a little difficult to keep strong in one's faith.
When Return Of The Jedi ended in 1983, Luke Skywalker was a Jedi Knight and clearly a man of faith. How else could he have been able to stick so steadfastly to his belief that he would be able to turn his father, who was the second most evil man in the galaxy at that time, so that he would become good again? Luke Skywalker believed, firmly and quite openly, that his faith in his father - and really, in his teachings - would be what turns Darth Vader back to the light side of the Force. Return Of The Jedi ended with a wholly optimistic note that everything would truly be okay, and Luke had once again found the peace that he'd been seeking since the trilogy began with Star Wars: A New Hope. He could go off and train others in the ways of the Force, and hopefully establish the Jedi as an order for what was good and right in the galaxy.
Then Ben Solo and Supreme Leader Snoke came along.
From the moment the first trailers for The Last Jedi featuring Luke Skywalker dropped, there was no questioning that something had happened to shake Luke's faith to its core. As a huge fan of Star Wars, I will admit that the apparent brokenness of Luke hurt like something physical had happened; I did not want to contemplate a Star Wars where Luke Skywalker was anything but the honorable and optimistic Jedi Knight. Apparently Mark Hamill, the man behind the robe, felt much the same way; there are interviews with Mark Hamill in circulation on YouTube where Hamill himself admits that the Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi is not "his" Luke Skywalker, but he acknowledges that this is a Star Wars for a new generation.
Let's take a breath for a second.
I'm not giving away new information when I say that Han Solo and Leia Organa — Luke's twin sister who is also Force-sensitive — had a child, and when they realized the child was strong in the Force, brought this child to Luke to train in the ways of the Force. Ben Solo was and is Luke Skywalker's Padawan and his nephew, and Luke was entrusted to teach this boy the ways of his faith. We don't know exactly when Supreme Leader Snoke stepped into the picture, but we do know that there's something about the dynamic between Ben Solo — now Kylo Ren — and Snoke that corrupted the good in Ben Solo and caused him to embrace the dark side. Certainly, there's also that whole notion about Ben Solo's legacy — he is, after all, the grandson of Darth Vader — which we can only guess that Snoke played on to turn the younger Solo's desires from good to evil.
To say that Luke was incredibly successful when he turned his father, Darth Vader, back to the good side of the Jedi faith would be a gross understatement. The redemption of Anakin Skywalker — AKA Darth Vader — is one of the biggest story arcs in Return Of The Jedi, and again, we can only guess that when Luke was asked to train Leia and Han's son, he was feeling pretty good about things. However, he would have been very aware of Snoke's presence when it was realized just how strong with the Force that Ben Solo was, and he would have — or at least should have — understood just how powerful a tool that then made Ben. Regardless of how Ben turned, and in The Force Awakens, there's no question that Leia and Han's son is with the bad guys, the fact that he did turn while under Luke's tutelage would have undoubtedly been shattering for Luke.
He would have looked at where he was and questioned how he could have trained someone, especially his nephew, that would become so evil. He would have probably blamed himself for what he no doubt saw coming — his nephew being taken fully under Snoke's wing and becoming terribly power hungry. He probably felt to a large extent that he could not face Leia and Han, his family, again as a result of what happened. What else could he do but run? You don't turn anyone evil if you have no contact whatsoever with them, so finding the most isolated area of the galaxy possible may have seemed like a logical course of action at the time.
Finally, we also have to remember that Luke's faith in the Jedi teachings was pretty much absolute. He bought into everything both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda taught him, so where did that leave him when he realized all the faith in the Jedi teachings and the Jedi way of life did not help him save his nephew? I daresay that Ben Solo's transformation into Kylo Ren would be the ultimate cause of Luke's undoing as the galaxy's top Jedi, and therefore the catalyst for Luke's isolation and belief that the Jedi should end.
We also should consider the fact that years living in isolation with no contact from the outside world will ultimately also have an impact on one's ability to interact in what could be considered a "normal" way. There's no need for social graces when one lives alone, so the Luke Skywalker we see in the trailers is very much in keeping with what could happen when someone lives an isolated existence for a number of years, which according to The Last Jedi trailers and the tail end of The Force Awakens is exactly what Luke Skywalker has been doing.
So, when you go see The Last Jedi, remember to go a little easy on Luke. He's had a very rough three decades. Having your faith shaken might do that to someone.