By the end of the second movie in this new trilogy, we should all be forced to accept that, “Yes, Rey No-last-name-given is a Mary Sue.”
A Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect. Often, this character is recognized as an or . They can usually perform better at tasks than should be possible given the amount of training or experience.
What seems startlingly clear isn’t the abject truth of this statement, that she is a character that has no means to her great power which are made clear to the reader, that she is capable of things she should absolutely not be able to do according to the canon, and that she is unnaturally loved by all, but that acknowledging that she was written as a rather flat trope is sexist.
Sorry, but we have Gary Stus too.
You can call each of these characters out for being perfect and always winning when they shouldn’t have a chance. They can also be beloved by their fans. But there is also a reason that people who love them most are young people who haven’t grown to expect characters with more depth and vulnerability. There is a reason that the only people still watching Dragon Ball in their 30’s are people who loved him when they were 13.
The same is true of Star Wars. People have grown up, but the writing is treating Rey like the audience is nothing but 12 year old kids who don’t expect more. They think we will cheer for her because she’s perfect and always beats the bad guy, rather than expect more than what we’re getting. It isn’t sexist to say that a character was written who has no weakness, no vulnerability, unstoppable strength, no need for training, better at everything than everyone (such as both repairing and flying the Millennium Falcon), is way prettier than she should be after years of life in the Jakku sun, and who is remarkably likable in spite of growing up with no social skills, is a rather annoying trope of a character. Look, I get it, people want the strong heroine, but the rules of writing are clear, if you don’t give people a believable story, then you stretch the suspension of reality too far, it snaps and people call it for what it is. It’s a Mary Sue.
And yes, the movie Superman had elements of this too, but at least he had weaknesses. He was actually killed for goodness sake, and there was at least some reasonable basis for his powers — because aliens and the Sun. But if you want cosmic level Gary Stu, look to the comics. It’s a thing.
Rey is the quintessential Mary Sue of the Star Wars universe. Anakin had a backstory that explained why he was so strong, even if people hated the midi-chlorian business. He still had to spend years in training to be competent as a Jedi and he still screwed up everything he touched. Luke? We have seen where he was such a competent pilot (womp rats, anyone?) and he was forced to endure a whole movie of seeking out training. What happens in that one? He bails before he is ready and gets his butt kicked. It is only years later that he is competent enough to be good with the lightsaber… in the third movie.
That Rey could manipulate the force in all its ways before she had even met a Jedi, so much so that she literally beat a master of the force the first time she held a lightsaber? And with no consequences, even. No ugly scar. No amputations. Her hair doesn’t even get messed up.
Come on people. It doesn’t make you a bad person to call out bad writing. You’re not sexist if you expect female characters to be believable. In the Star Wars universe, that means that even force sensitive people don’t know how to swing the lightsaber. It means that force sensitive people still have to be trained to fly the Millennium Falcon. It means that force sensitive people still have to be trained to do all the forcey things, and it means that you will suffer some debilitating injury to learn from your stupidity at some point. This actually happened to Kylo Ren, and dammit all if he wasn’t more likable for the experience. But why is that we can’t expect the same dramatic elements for our female characters without being called sexist?
I don’t get why people are having such a hard time with this. Deadpool did it perfectly when they called the moment of confusion we are feeling surrounding female characters in fiction, where we are trying to make them special, but still want to treat them with kid gloves that says they can do no wrong.
Simply, it isn’t sexist to say that a character is flat, even if the overall experience of seeing the movie was enjoyable. I liked the movie. I even like Daisy Ridley. I think she is playing the character written for her well. But there was a lot of annoyingness in it. It was really predictable. Huge parts of it were fluff. And there was that whole scene that made absolutely no sense with Leia in space. You know what I’m talking about. That got dangerously close to Mary Sue too. And frankly, Rey is a Mary Sue. Straight up, pure unadulterated Mary Sue. She is too perfect and there is no reason why, after two movies, they couldn’t have at least tried to explain this. It’s annoying and it diminishes the quality of the story… because people are simply too distracted the whole time while watching this giant elephant in the room that Rey somehow knows how to levitate.
I’m just saying, along with many others, that the storytelling is declining in these films because people are trying to make Star Wars into some sort of social narrative rather than a great Space opera fantasy. People need to learn to accept the criticism, because they aren’t being directed at women, but at bad writing… or maybe even a culture that simply can’t accept more believable female characters as leading protagonists. Shutting down the argument as simply sexist isn’t going to do the character justice in the long run, nor will it bode well for narrative fiction as a genre.
Look, if people want the Mary Sue arguments surrounding female characters to go away, stop making them so damn perfect.
Let one of them get their arm lopped off every once in a while.
Let one of them get that nasty facial scar.
Force them to go through real training where we see how much they suck at everything.
And most importantly, let them fail.
I promise you, the fans will love her. And if they don’t, at least then we can have a decent argument about sexism.
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