*******SPOILERS. FOR GODSAKE, THERE ARE SPOILERS.********
It appears that, aside from the casual racism I’ve seen pertaining to the inclusion black actors in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (though to even have to be happy about this in 2015 is sad in its own right; it should just be a given inclusion), there are a lot of people who feel Rey is an unrealistic Mary Sue. (
the below photo is the most pissed-off looking photo of Rey I could find)
A Mary Sue is, by definition, ‘an idealized fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through extraordinary abilities’
Even when I went to Google the exact definition of what a Mary Sue is, the first thing that came up was ‘mary sue starwars’. Good grief, people.
Where is your capitalisation? Did you lose your grammar in your quest to shut down a female character for being cool?
Let’s look at Rey.
- Abandoned as a toddler by her family
- Forced to scavenge to survive
- had to learn to fight with a staff to keep herself safe.
Are you with me so far?
- She knew all the folklore about the Jedi
- She knew what the Force was
- She knew things about how ships worked because SHE HAD TO TO SURVIVE/ to know what to scavenge
With all of that in mind, we look at her in comparison to Han Solo. In the scene inside the Millenium Falcon, Rey knew just as much as Han did about how ships worked. She knew about the internal working parts. At no point do we know how she learned anything – though we might assume that, in the brief scene at the beginning where she’s scrubbing the metal doohickey
(I’m not Rey so I don’t know what any of the parts are called) and she’s facing a wizened old woman, that perhaps she had some people to look out for her and teach her all she knows. She’s just as competent as Han, but not inexplicably so. She’s a girl able to look after herself, because she’s had to all her life.
We can also look at her as a human with feelings. She experiences fear when the Falcon is under threat, fear and upset when Finn is hurt or in danger, and is desperately upset when Han Solo is killed by Kylo Ren.
Notice that, she does not save Han Solo. She does ,not ‘save the day’ so to speak at any point throughout the film, any more than anyone else has saved the day. I think Rey’s function within The Force Awakens is highlighted because we simply aren’t used to females operating within the Star Wars universe (Or any universe, really) without there being some sort of romantic subplot. Finn, Han Solo and Chewie, too, were her friends. Rey’s sole motivation throughout the entire film is to continue her survival, and find out more about her family.
- She discovers the lightsaber and has flashbacks, and foreshadowing, just from touching it – indicative that the Force is within her
- Maz Kanata explains to Rey that she sees the Force within her – and explains that the Force moves through and around everyone (I’m paraphrasing because I’ve only seen it once
So from that scene we can imply that Rey has taken the existing knowledge she has of the Force from the stories she’s heard, and assimilated that information in addition to the information Maz has given her.
She’s captured, and when Kylo Ren uses the Force on her she realises she can resist him. She knows she has the Force inside her and isn’t doing anything unrealistic or idealised. She’s literally doing what she can. She also realises she can use the Force to persuade others – but the scene is protracted, so it can be assumed that she’s trying it out on a hunch. I’m pretty sure Han Solo tries things on hunches, or any Jedi from previous Star Wars films acted on hunches too.
- Han Solo teaches her how to shoot a blaster, she never once picks up a weapon not knowing how it works
Which brings me to the battle between her and Kylo Ren. Finn is injured and Rey has no choice but to pick up the saber herself. She’s in imminent danger. If she can’t get to the lightsaber before Kylo Ren does, she’s royally screwed. So she tries using the Force.
Like, can we look back at the title of the film, please?
If she couldn’t perform any of the things I’ve described above, the film would be ‘The Force Remains Dormant Inside a Dead Girl’ and that’s just not as snappy a title.
And finally – in that battle with Kylo Ren, she knows how to use the lightsaber because she has been fighting with a staff for most of her life on her home planet. A staff and a saber aren’t all that different, really, except the saber is arguably a bit more dangerous. It does not go beyond the realms of possibility that anything Rey has been able to do is because of who she is as a person, not because she woke up one day just magically able to do things. Mary Sue characters, as I know them to be, usually obtain some sort of character makeover that renders them completely unrealistic, or have all sorts of special fighting abilities with absolutely zero training. The scenes with Han Solo on board the Falcon were literally there to show that, hey, Rey is good at things too!
The most important thing to note is that Rey fought off Kylo – but didn’t defeat him. She saved herself, not anyone else.
So the moral of this story is – Rey is badass, capable, and a brilliant character. If she was a dude character no one would have a inkling of a problem. Rey is an amazingly strong female character (strong as in well-developed) and should not be condemned as unrealistic or idealised simply because she has a vagina.
May the Force be with you.