Rey

… or how Daisy Ridley’s character killed the Mary Sue trope.

There is just so, so much to love about the new Star Wars movie. As always, I’ll give you the art first, so you can skip the rambling if you like.

rey_col

Watercolour and white gel pen on Canson Montval paper, 21×30 cm. Sorry, still not a portrait artist. ;) Original painting available here!

This movie has just done so much with me, and Rey is no exception. She continues a great tradition of females that are unusual on the big screen (again, the Prequels didn’t really add a lot to that – Padme almost ruined every progress that Leia had made). What I love most about Rey is that she is basically Luke. Luke with a bit of Indiana Jones, in fact. She’s a young zero-to-hero figure living on a desert planet who can do basically anything (the Indiana Jones factor). People whine that she’s a Mary Sue (which she is most definitely not, since she isn’t an author insert for JJ Abrams. Not that I know of). Of course, what those people mean is that she’s just too good, too perfect, too proficient, too fast. But firstly, those people wouldn’t even notice it if a male protagonist was that much of a wunderkind (or have you heard people whine about Indiana Jones? Neither have I, rightfully), and secondly, those people are ignoring the factors that play into Rey’s apparent ease at success. The only reason why Rey is able to whomp Kylo Ren so thoroughly at the end of the movie is that Ren is practically dead on his feet at the time. And as for bypassing that compressor, of course she knows her way around with junk!

Rey is such a wonderful heroine that it makes you wonder why it took Hollywood so long to take this plunge with a strong, likeable, female action hero whose gender simply has zero impact on the story. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s strong, she’s tragic, she’s tenacious, she’s determined. And she’s cute, but frankly, so is everyone else, so she is in no way dependent upon that one female domain.

It makes me infinitely happy that my daughter, and my son, both get to grow up with a movie that has Rey in it.

Seriously though – Lucasfilm acting all surprised by how successful her character is? The fact that she’s the centre of the story might have been a dead giveaway for the astute-minded, but even if that wasn’t, how is it possible that John Williams gave her her own leitmotiv and somehow the merch producers missed that? *whiplash-inducing headshake*

23 thoughts on “Rey

  1. Lovely painting! I agree that Rey is by far the best thing in this movie (apart from Han Solo of course). We need more strong heroines like her.
    What do you mean by a Mary Sue? Who’s that?

    • A Mary Sue is originally a female fanfiction character that is inserted into a story. The character is smart and brilliant and strong but mostly insanely good-looking, and she turns the heads of the male protagonists who fall madly in love with her. A lot of female fanfic authors’ original characters interacting with the cast of an existing show work like that, and it often becomes clear that the character is the author’s wish fulfilment.

      The term was then taken to mean a too-perfect character in a movie (or, less commonly, a book). On paper, such a character can be male or female, but in reality, we are so used to perfect male heroes who can do anything they attempt that I only see the term applied to female characters. Again, interestingly, there are plenty heroic characters from male creators who are totally and acceptably wish fulfilment, and nobody feels bothered in the slightest.

  2. What really bugged me was the pacing. The movie felt rushed (the new Star Treks felt rushed, too – so it may be a JJ Abrams thing).
    The encounter on Solo’s ship is worry of a film all by itself. Just picture it – five parties (including the FO) all chasing one another, while evading monsters aboard a derelict ship!

    • I know what you mean. After the first viewing, I felt overwhelmed, but that probably also had to do with seeing a SW film for the first time in so many years after the last ones had been such letdowns. The second time was much better. I agree the pacing was still fast, but there were many slow moments that took much more time for the characters than even the original trilogy ever gave them. Rey with her instant food and helmet, Han and Kylo Ren on the bridge – no, the pacing worked quite well for me.

      • Maybe I’ll take a second look then.

        On a different, though related, subject.
        Will there be more Rhun and Samica? Please?

      • Oh, I loved hiw they let us see and feel what these people go through. They were real :) It was a bit like that with Luke in old series, but the SW 1-3 brought plastic people. The whole plot of Anaking switching to the dark side was so shallow, non believable, though visually great. Also there is a lot of nonsense in SW that irritates me which didn’t take place in the newest part. Thus I’m glad I managed to get to literally the last 3D show in the area. Almost missed it! That’s because I wanted to see 1-6 before and it took some time.

        • That’s great! We always go for 2D, which is getting harder and harder to find. O_o I can’t see in 3D with my stupid eyes, so watching a movie in 3D puzzles me so much I can’t concentrate on it.

          • I always wear contact lenses, with regular glasses it is tough. If you haven’t tried it this might help. But there are people who cannot watch 3D in any way.
            Here – in Drammen – it was easy to choose between versions and they stopped 3D before finishing with 2D.

            • I can’t wear contacts – my eyes are too messed up for them – and I can’t see 3D either in real life or in the cinema. ;) Sadly, most of the cinemas around here have a far greater choice – and longer run-times – of 3D, which makes it hard for me to make it to the movies.

  3. Wow, awesome painting! I was hoping to see a new post, and I wasn’t let down. ;)

    I agree that Rey is very likeable and relatable — she’s just so… normal, just like most women and girls who see the movie. (Actually, I did think it was unlikely that she would know more about the Falcon than Han did, but I can let that slide.) She’s definitely an awesome character. :D

  4. She is definitely not a Mary Sue. She has survived alone on that harsh ;planet fighting every day to survive. Also in the final cut scenes with her training by Maz Kanta got out of a movie (which was a mistake). Kylo was hurt, she was prepared, but yes she wouldn’t survive the fight if not his wounds. There was a reason why they stressed a few times how powerful/strong is Chewbacca’s cross-bow. Long story short – I loved the character and definitely enjoyed the movie. Well, maybe not that much as the “Return of a Jedi” long years ago, when I was a kid, I’m not that hooked by the Star Wars. But, after re-watching the whole series before going to cinema I find the newest part the best. It simply retells the old story in a language of our times and in a very good way. Pity PJ didn’t go this patch with the Hobbit, which I enjoyed as a comics-like interpretation, but the same time missed the lost opportunity to make fantastic movie.

    Finally – great portrait of Rey!

    • Oh! Maz trains Rey – that would indeed have been important to leave in!

      Ah yes, Chewie’s bowcaster. There’s a hilariously funny blog post about it that calls it a “weaponised piece of f*** you and everything around you” and says the movie is pretty much an infomercial for the thing. It’s in response to those people whining Rey shouldn’t have won against Kylo Ren. So, she had some training, and he was holding together basically only by Force. Small wonder she thrashed him.

      • I only red about it, there are no deleted scenes on-line, yet, so I don’t know how advanced the training was, but Maz seems to be a “secret jedi”. That’s what one of the YT called her. JJ Abrams cut the movie to make it shorter and fit into 2h, but I regret this scene was left out.
        To me not only Kylo Ren was wounded, but he also was curious of who she is – about the force in her – so he didn’t want to kill her. I mean – he did and he didn’t, thus made a mistake.

        • And then there is that theory that Kylo Ren has saved her life before. In her vision, he is seen running a black-clad, masked figure (another Knight or Ren?) through with his lightsaber when the other is about to kill Rey. There’s the theory that he was the one who left her on Jakku, while everyone thought she was dead, like all the others. That would explain why nobody ever came back for her, and it would explain why he furiously asks, “What girl?” when told BB-8 escaped with a girl.

          • Oh, haven’t hear of this! It would be really interesting. I’ve heard of speculation that Kylo Ren will accomplish what neither Anakin, nor Luke could do – accept and reconcile in one person both the dark and light side of the force, which are not evil and good, but yin and yang and cannot exist separately. Something Jedi and Sith didn’t understand. The real balance in the force. I really would like such ending.

            • WHOAH. I love this. My new headcanon. That would so beautifully fix the messed-up prequels.

              “Look, I’ve wiped out all the Jedi except two, to balance the two Sith! Balance to the Force at last!”

              • Indeed there was a theory Palpatine was a good guy because there were too many Jedi and wiping them out he brought balance to the force. I don’t think he had such noble motives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s