The Force Awakens was set to have a different ending that broughtLuke Skywalker's incredible Force powers back to the screen for the first time since the Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill has now revealed that the ending had to be changed, and why they had to change it, which should be obvious if you've seen The Last Jedi. Hamill was only briefly seen in The Force Awakens, and when he was, it wasn't until the very end of the movie (unless you count his robotic hand reaching out to R2-D2 in Rey's flashback when she touches the Lightsaber). The move to keep Luke from The Force Awakens was a controversial one, but it was an excellent way to end the sequel and set up The Last Jedi.
In a new interview promoting The Last Jedi, Mark Hamill revealed that the end of The Force Awakens was going to show off Luke's Force powers by featuring two floating boulders. When Hamill read the script, he thought that was a cool idea. He explains.
"When we were doing [The Force Awakens], Rian said, 'Oh and by the way we might have a couple of boulders floating to show your Force emanating', so I was led to believe that I still had the Force and it was really strong in me."
However, once Mark Hamill got his hands on Rian Johnson's script for The Last Jedi, he saw a pretty big lack of continuity. It wouldn't make sense for Luke to be showing off how powerful he was while properly setting up The Last Jedi. Once Mark Hamill caught the error, he immediately called Rian Johnson and J.J. Abrams to tell them about the mistake. Both directors revealed that they knew about the mistake, and didn't put it in the final cut of The Force Awakens. Star Wars fans would have never let J.J. Abrams or Rian Johnson slide on such a big issue. Hamill had this to say.
"When I read The Last Jedi before 7 came out, I said 'what?" and called J.J. or Rian to say, 'Are you guys aware of this? Have you seen a cut? Is there floating boulders?' And they said, 'No, we caught that and we worked it all out'."
Luke has cut himself off from the Force in The Last Jedi, so it would not have made any sense to show off how powerful he was at the end of The Force Awakens. It was for the best that they ended up not using the floating boulders to prove that Luke had still been practicing the Force while at the same time exiling himself to Ahch-To in effort to kill off the Jedi. Luke's struggle is one of Mark Hamill's best performances to date, which has some fans conflicted, who did not enjoy seeing such a beaten down version of the Jedi Master.
The Force Awakens did an excellent job setting up the events of The Last Jedi, so let's hope that continuity is kept for Star Wars 9, which is currently being written right now by J.J. Abrams. There's a lot to explore and the Force is definitely going to be at the top of many Star Wars fans lists for things that they want explained. In the meantime, you can check out Mark Hamill's discussion on the original ending of The Force Awakens via Mtime.