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Rian Johnson Explains Leia’s Controversial (to Some) Abilities in The Last Jedi

We’ve long accepted that the Skywalker men are very gifted with the Force. Annakin was obviously a prodigy, and when he became Darth Vader, he was arguably the most potent manipulator of the Dark Side of the Force outside of the Emperor. Luke was also gifted, and used the Force in spectacular ways throughout the original trilogy, and then again in The Last Jedi‘s dramatic, epic battle on Crait. So why is it that when Leia finally shows off the gifts Luke has long expected she has (she is a Skywalker, after all) did some folks find it to be inexplicable?

The moment in question happened after the ship Leia is on is badly damaged, and she’s shot out into space in what appeared to be her final moments. Yet although she appears unconscious, Leia saves herself using Force Pull, dragging herself back through the rubble and onto the ship, a majestic, surprising feat that seems to have baffled some Star Wars fans. We’ve never seen Leia use the Force like this before, goes the common complaint, so what gives here? Well luckily writer/director Rian Johnson has some answers, and we find them not only plausible but highly laudable.

Speaking to Empire Magazine’s podcast, Johnson explained that Leia has in fact always had the Force potential that Luke saw in her during Return of the Jedi, and, that puling herself back through space and onto the ship isn’t actually such a heavy lift for someone of her skills, especially a Skywalker:

The idea behind that moment was—first of all her use of Force in that moment is not incredibly powerful she’s in space which offers no resistance. So actually [it doesn’t] take much to pull her back in she is in zero gravity, but also [her use of the Force] is instinctual.

That was the bigger thing for me is that it’s the equivalent of like when you hear stories about parents who have a toddler trapped under a car and they lift the car up, they get Hulk strength. It’s that idea “this is not going to end today. I’m not finished yet” and that she it’s almost like just a drowning person is clawing their way to the surface the way she pulls her way back.

Leia has spent decades defending the Rebels—and then the Resistance—while her brother disappeared after things with Ben Solo went catastrophically south. Sure, she hasn’t been wielding lightsabers and levitating boulders (and X-Wings) like Jedis and Siths across the galaxy, but she has always had latent gifts, and it makes absolute sense to us that they’d manifest in a moment of great peril, when her death would likely be the end of the Resistance completely. We think Johnson had it just right—Luke himself said Leia was just as gifted as he was, and in The Last Jedi, we finally got to see her flex her considerable Force muscles, and just in the nick of time.

Featured image: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. General Leia. Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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