Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia

Is Rey a Mary Sue?

What it says in the subject line - the initial reception of The Force Awakens was overwhelmingly positive from every angle, but it's had enough time now to collect some criticism, and from what I've seen most of that has been about Rey's inexplicable ability to be the best at everything.

I was okay with that on my first watch, and the only time it bugged me the second time was when she was correcting Han while co-piloting for him. Hotshot pilot is Han's thing, and on the Falcon? Nobody ought to be better than him. Not to mention that the new character trio already contained a hotshot pilot, and it's more fun when skills are distributed evenly. But I liked Rey and she'd already been through a lot of hard luck and this is Star Wars, so why begrudge her some ridiculous flying expertise.

Then she went on to more or less master the Force without ever having heard of it before, which, okay, might also encompass the pilot thing. I can kind of see why people don't like this. If it keeps up, she won't really need to rely on anyone, and her character progression won't mean a whole lot. Plus, how are Finn and Poe going to shine next to her? (I've decided Finn is my favorite. His HOLY $&%@ WE ARE DOING THIS approach to everything makes me want to make all of his dreams come true forever.)

So far, my viewing companion and I have rooted out one good fanwank for Rey: she was secretly trained by Luke in her childhood and her memory was overwritten to protect her for whatever reason, but Kylo probing her mind inadvertently unlocked it. So, major head start. Still, we've been told that training to be a Jedi takes years and years or at least a Yoda on your side, so even if they're going to include some proper exposition in the next movie, it seems like a stretch.

But then I realized that there was one other character who got pretty much the same treatment: Anakin Skywalker. He's substantially younger than Rey, has the same lack of resources, mentors, or exposure to the galaxy, built his own droid, is the only human pod racer, and does a bunch of other implausible things that I can't remember because I'm not a masochist and I haven't rewatched that movie in a decade or so. I'd say he's more of a stretch than Rey.

The question now is whether Rey is a better character than Anakin because there are good reasons for her to be so smart and talented, or whether she's a better character than Anakin because she has enough of a bonus from her writing, acting, and context to make up for her lack of good reasons to be so smart and talented.

What I'm really hoping for, aside from helpful exposition, is that Abrams had Anakin in mind while he was writing Rey and is drawing a deliberate parallel. So far, there hasn't been much of a visible attempt to "fix" the prequels, which I appreciate because what's done is done and referring to it isn't going to improve the new stuff. But if canon makes it clear that every few generations there's a born SuperJedi who could become either a Darth Vader or a Rey, we might be able to find some kind of harmony with the crap from days of yore. Kylo Ren fits right into that direction - he thought he was the SuperJedi and still thinks he can somehow earn it. (And you know at the end it's gonna be Emo Grim Reaper with his red junksabre vs. his cousin, Exiled Sand Queen with her green double-bladed lightsabre.)

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Or to simplify it: do you think Rey is a Mary Sue?
Tags: star wars
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