In the waning days of 2015, I finally managed to carve out some time to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
While I was happy to complain that I was the last person left on Earth who hadn’t seen it, I realize that is not the case so skip this entire post if you don’t want spoilers.
Okay again, SPOILERS abound!!
Last time, SPOILERS!
So of course I loved loved LOVED the movie. But I knew that I would. There is very little that JJ does wrong in my opinion and even going into knowing pretty much all the spoilers I loved it.
I audibly cheered in the theater when they showed the Millennium Falcon for pete’s sake. I’m THAT guy.
And while Han’s death scene was rough, it was a fitting end to a great character. I’ve read some posts about how half the movie is about getting Han there on the bridge emotionally but I didn’t feel that way. I thought it worked.
What I didn’t think worked was Finn’s motivation. And I say this while ordering my I LOVE FINN t-shirt because I absolutely adored the guy. He was funny, smart, clever, and full of heart. He’s a reformed Storm Trooper! What’s not to love? Except…maybe THAT. At one point he tells Rey (more on her later) that he was taken from his family and raised as a Storm Trooper which means that is the ONLY reality that Finn knows. I understand that the argument is that once he’s ordered to kill, he can’t do it and that’s fine, but Finn had zero inner conflict about killing other Storm Troopers who were essentially his only family. I sort of wish they had made it like a conscription thing – like serving as a Storm Trooper is some sort of punishment or what not so that he would have knowledge of another kind of life. It takes incredible amounts of courage to abandon the only life you’ve ever know (hence the power of cults). I wish they had shown Finn struggle a little with this choice. Eager is not a character choice.
Now to Rey. There’s been some talk about Rey being a Mary Sue (too perfect of a character). I completely disagree or at least no more of a Mary Sue than Luke was. And if Rey were RAY this conversation wouldn’t even be taking place. No one worried about Han being too….everything!
What is so great about Rey is that she’s never ever going to cause a little girl to sit on a back deck bored out of her skull watching her friends with light sabers.
Let me explain. As a kid, the majority of my friends were boys. There was my best friend, his little brother and their male neighbor and me. As the only girl in the group, when we played Star Wars, I was Leia. I argued for Han but was overruled that a) there had to be a Leia because otherwise who would get rescued and b) I was THE girl.
So I spent a lot of time, watching my friends run around the backyard, swinging their light sabers while I waited to be rescued.
I hated it. I hated that even though Leia occasionally used a blaster, she was still a Princess. In need of rescuing.
So, enter Rey.
Rey who rescues herself.
Rey who goes toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren.
Rey who weilds a light sabre.
Watching that moment my heart nearly burst. There it was. There SHE was. The character I wanted so badly as a little girl.
And I realized that when my niece, Neve, is old enough she’ll see Rey and she’ll see herself. A strong, brave resourceful girl. And when she plays Star Wars with her friends and her brother, she’ll never ever spend it on a back deck, waiting to be rescued.
She’ll call Leia, “General” and not “Princess.”
Because fuck princesses.