I find it totally fascinating how … loud people get when you make the perfectly reasonable point that Rey, an impossibly competent character in what amounts to a big-budget fan film, is a total Mary Sue (that is, she's an audience insert into a piece of fan fiction who is impossibly competent and wins the heart of main characters from the show or movie you're fan-ficcing).
People are apparently still yelling at Max Landis for pointing this out and outlets from Vox to Forbes to Indiewire have all very strenuously argued that, nuh uh, it makes total sense that Rey is super-overpowered and hypercompetent and everyone loves her. Which, fine! I actually like Rey too! She's totes awesome and fun and cool! Her hypercompetence isn't the best or the worst thing about The Force Awakens, to my mind.*
But she's still a Mary Sue. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ As a wise man once said, it is what it is. And to get a sense of just how big a Mary Sue she is, we should drop her into other films to see how she would be treated! (Many thanks to Andrew Stiles for putting together these photoshopped images so quickly.)
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Rey of Hope
Given that The Force Awakens is basically just a mashup of the first three Star Wars flicks, it might be interesting to drop her into Luke's role. If she had been Luke, she never would've whined about going to Tosche Station, because whining is unpleasant and no one likes a whiner; she either would've done it anyway or stoically accepted her fate, as when she took her measly ration from that creep she worked for. Rather than being captured by the Tusken Raiders she would've fought them off; when Obi Wan runs up to help, she'd brush him off, maybe even chase him down and be all "I HAVE THESE DROIDS THEY ARE YOURS." He'd thank her for bringing him the droids and they'd go to Mos Eisley, where she wouldn't take any guff off a space criminal—she'd be the one to cut off the jerk's arm. When Han says "Who's gonna fly it, you?" she'd yell "YUPPPPP" and take off in the Millennium Falcon, outrunning all the Imperials chasing her. Han would get all doe-eyed and be like "wow you are awesome Rey, we should be besties."
On the Death Star, she'd go toe-to-toe with Vader after he kills Obi Wan, defeating him in single combat and using the Force more effectively than he could ever dream to. All the Rey apologists would say, "Yeah, sure, why not, she probably learned how to do Force stuff because Vader talked to her or whatever. Quit being so sexist by questioning how she does stuff."
You remember the story of Rocky: down-on-his-luck boxer gets a chance to take on the biggest name in the sport, losing in heartbreaking fashion as the credits roll.
The idea that Rey would lose in anything is abhorrent, as are many of the things that happen to Stallone's character in this movie. Mick would never yell at Rey for not trying hard enough, she wouldn't have to work to win the hand of a mousey little thing like Adrian, and, obviously, she wouldn't have lost to Apollo Creed. No, the Rey-infused version of Rocky would've been much different: no one would've thought she was a bum and she would've defeated Apollo Creed in the first round by knockout. The Rey apologists, of course, would highlight her agility in the ring: there's no way a musclebound brute like Apollo Creed could've gone more than a round with a floating butterfly like Rey He would've been too tired! It's totes sexist to think otherwise.
Everyone loves the story of Rudy, a heartwarming tale about a hardworking guy who has neither the natural smarts to attend Notre Dame nor the natural athletic ability to play for its football team. Yet, through hard work and diligent studying, Rudy manages to take a single snap in front of his doubting family, proving that hard work can overcome any limitations.
But, like, why work hard at something when you can just be good at it? Reydy tells a much different story, one about a girl from a working class background who is naturally brilliant. She aces the SATs and Notre Dame begs her to go there because she's so great. After watching the football team practice one day she decides to go out for the squad despite never ever having seen a single football game before or even knowing what football is. Obviously, she's amazing and makes the team. After showing up the team captains in practice, they all come to her and say "Hey, Rey, we never doubted you and you proved us right by being so awesome at everything. Thank you for leading us to four straight national championships. I bet you'll have a long and fruitful professional career." Fin.
Some Rey haters ("Reyters," we might call them) will question the idea that she could be so good at something that she'd never seen done before. However, it's obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to the story that as a child she was incredibly amazing at football but suffered a concussion that erased her memory of the sport. So it makes perfect sense for her to be so awesome at football because she was totes great at it before. Don't question this logic you sexist. Geez.
Rey's Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead is a fascinating film, one in which people struggle to survive an outbreak of zombies and we learn that the biggest threat to mankind isn't external: it's learning to get along with each other. The movie tragically ends with the hero being shot by a crowd of hunters taking out zombies.
Obviously, the people in that farmhouse just needed a Rey. First off, she'd instantly know that you have to kill a zombie by destroying its brains and that the dead reanimate regardless of how they die. How would she know this? Zombie lore or something, don't worry about it. Then her winning personality would draw everyone to her: there would be no fighting in the Reytopia!** Her competence and charisma would save the day yet again. And woe to the hunter who tries to shoot Rey. Would NOT want to be that guy.
*The best thing about The Force Awakens is how they basically make Leia a Hezbollah terrorist.
**The Reytopia is like the Ricktatorship, but happier.
Published under: Star Wars