(If you haven’t seen the season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian” and don’t want to know what happened during it, then why are you reading this article? Major spoilers ahead.)
While “Star Wars” is leaning harder into the shared universe thing than it has in the past, “The Mandalorian” has mostly existed as part of the television universe alongside “Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” It’s mostly dodged connections to the movies, and never referenced major folks like Han Solo, Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker.
Fans were treated to a pretty upsetting sight during the Season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian,” in the form of a CGI version of Luke Skywalker.
This is something Disney has done in “Star Wars” a couple times before, back in 2016’s “Rogue One” and in last year’s “The Rise of Skywalker.” In “Rogue One,” we got CGI versions of Grand Moff Tarkin, who had a significant role, and Leia, who was just a cameo at the very end. And in “The Rise of Skywalker,” we got another glimpse at CGI Leia and CGI Luke in a flashback to when Luke trained her as a Jedi.
All of those examples were met with general derision, because they looked weird. All CGI faces do, to some extent, but it generally works best when they de-age the person who originated the role, like with Samuel L Jackson in “Captain Marvel.” In the case of those “Star Wars” examples, however, the characters were played by doubles rather than the actors who defined the characters — so they’re much harder to look at.
That’s also how this younger version of Luke was brought to life for “The Mandalorian,” with actor Max Lloyd Jones taking on the role from behind a computer-generated mask. Hamill doesn’t appear to have been very involved with this episode, as that doesn’t even sound like his voice speaking the lines — though of course that may just be cinema magic de-aging his voice.
And all this creates just a generally unsettling scene.
Yes, it’s cool in theory that we got a Luke Skywalker appearance in “The Mandalorian.” He’s pretty much the face of the franchise, after all, and his cameo lends some extra weight to the events of the show. But this… this is tough.
It was hard to keep looking at Luke while he was explaining why he was there and why he’s interested in Baby Yoda. His face was so inexpressive, and it felt vaguely like watching a story scene from an old video game. But it’s worse than that, because in a video game all the characters are like that. Here, we had to watch actual human faces juxtaposed with this blank CGI face, and it’s that stark contrast that makes Luke’s empty face so disturbing.
I mean, just look at it.
It looks mostly like Luke, but not quite. That puts it squarely in the uncanny valley, creating a vague feeling of discomfort as you look at him. And it’s much worse seeing it in motion.
Unfortunately, we’re likely to see CGI Luke again, since Baby Yoda walked out of “The Mandalorian” with him. Wherever Baby Yoda shows up next — whether it be in “The Mandalorian” season 3 or “Ahsoka” or some other new “Star Wars” show that’s in the works — there’s a pretty good chance Luke will be there, at least for a handoff to a new caretaker.
But it’s hard to imagine Disney would want to have to deal with the headache of putting that CGI face on Max Lloyd Jones with any regularity. And while fans may tolerate this in small doses, I don’t think anyone would be happy to look at it very often. I don’t expect this CGI Luke Skywalker to be involved much going forward unless “The Mandalorian” does a big time jump and brings Mark Hamill aboard.
Fingers crossed, anyway.