Star Wars 7: Mary Sue awakens
I have said before that I am struggling with my Star Wars fandom after seeing SW7. There was so much to like but there were flaws, some of which I just could not put my finger on. Well, finally someone has. Max Landis, in his own uncensored (language warning) and spoiler filled way, speaks to some of the issues I had a problem with.
Although I do not like the label Mary Sue, because it is rooted in fan fiction and seems a little vague, I do feel like Rey was a little too skilled for every situation she was in. She had a lot of potential to be a strong character but in the end, she relied on skills that seem to just come out of nowhere conveniently when she needed them. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a strong female character. I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the strong female characters that Joss Whedon has created and he is a master at it. JJ probably needs to take a page from his book because Rey was just too contrived and convenient for the plot.
They are calling her the equivalent of Luke in this film and she is far from it. I found myself often wondering that there had to be some story behind her skill and they would explain it later (which they did not). I felt that way with Fin when he was using the lightsaber rather deftly.
Then there is this… Please Stop Spreading This Nonsense that Rey From Star Wars Is a “Mary Sue”
First Luke used the Force “brilliantly” by the end of the first movie. Max makes some good points in that way. As I said, perhaps Mary Sue is a vague enough term that Max is misusing it for is own purposes, but I still felt like Rey was overly skilled and flawless in the first movie. If they go back and explain it with a mind-wipe from Luke or something, then maybe I can deal with that. But she seemed a little too skilled for all the situations she was in, and not one seems to overly challenge her.
And I am not thrilled with the fact that one can not present criticism of a female character without being called sexist. I want a strong female character like Leia … a believable strong character that has her flaws but overcome challenges despite them, not contrived and unexplained abilities that I just have to “deal with.” It dehumanizes the character if you just do that. And what we want is human characters, male and female that we can relate to, living in these fantasy worlds with “Space elves and star ships,” facing daunting challenges and overcoming those challenges as a group or team of heroes. Han, Luke and Leia needed each other in various ways and circumstances to eventually overcome the Empire. What did Rey need Fin for other than a little Imperial intel on a few things. Otherwise, he’s just another dumb jock character treating the female character like a damsel in distress.
This does not kill the movie for me, because by far it is better than the prequels. But this is one of the glaring aspects that bother it. It’s not that she is a girl. She can be a girl and still have missteps and shortcomings. Luke was a whiney little bitch at the beginning of the originals but grew to be a great hero. He still had his flaws and needed his friends to bail him out on more than a few occasions. You can have a female character be the same way, in a different story.
But apparently that is sexist.