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Wish Fulfillment And The Mary Sue

post #1 of 480
Thread Starter 

Over in The Force Awakens thread, when going over Rey's characterization for the 80th time, Lightning Slim mentioned that Rey is no more a Mary Sue than Indiana Jones, who is also a hyper-competent, ass-kicking polymath.  I don't think that is true, though he is arguably just as much of a wish fulfillment figure.   Nooj was quick to point out that even if that is the case, as an original creation he lacks the fan fiction element of interacting with established characters, which is inherent in the original conception of the term.  He's also a man, and I understand that many who bristle at the term being applied to Rey do so because they feel it is inherently and pejoratively gendered.  As I interpret the term, gender seems entirely incidental, but Mary Sue just seems catchier than Gary Stu for whatever reason so I'm sticking with it.

 

I've made no secret about not being a fan of how Rey is portrayed, and that she ticks off all the MS boxes I've ever heard of (with the exception of being a idealized physical match for the writers, though I suppose that depends on their particular body issues).  But for as much as I think that hurts TFA, it also occurred to me that the two films I picked as the best of the year it came out also had MS protagonists.  Why was I willing to accept Furiosa and Adonis Creed winning the admiration of Mad Max and Rocky Balboa while usurping their franchises, but I rebelled when Rey got too friendly with the Falcon and Han Solo?  I think its because they spend a solid half of those movies winning the icons over (Furiosa and Max are actually brawling with each other at the outset), and also that they take more of a literal beating to reach their triumphant endpoints.  Or maybe its just that I have a more emotional nostalgic connection to the SW franchise, so I get more jealous when I see some new floozy making time with Chewie.  

 

What do you think?  Is it hyper-competence, or the interactions with the Old Guard that guide our reactions more in these instances?  When does it bother you, and when does it work?  Who is the "bigger" Mary Sue:  James Bond or Wesley Crusher? 

post #2 of 480

I think in the case of CREED and FURY ROAD, they're just BETTER films (in addition to both new characters really going through the ringer to justify their existence, as Schwartz indicated).  Moreso in the case for CREED.  I really don't see Furiosa being a Mary Sue since she really doesn't give a shit about Max up until he becomes valuable as an ally.

 

And on the topic of the original definition of Mary Sue... I once again point to...

 

ohohohohohohoho

 

 

 

(can the producer/head of Lucasfilm be considered the source of the Mary Suein'?)

 

 

I recall the Dragon Tattoo books getting criticized for essentially being Mary Sue tales for the author.  I never read them.  So would that also make the Robert Langdon books the same thing?


Edited by mcnooj82 - 1/2/17 at 11:53pm
post #3 of 480

And on the topic of CREED again...

 

...unlike forwakens, Coogler's film immediately plays fair with Adonis Johnson's origins.  There are no secrets the film keeps from the audience as he essentially tries to woo Rocky out of retirement to train him.  It's a similar arc that kinda combines the way Rocky woos both Adrian and Mickey in the original film.  And because it's operating in the tried and true underdog sports movie formula, that kind of direct symmetry is not a bad thing as long as we're invested in the characters.  

 

In CREED's case, I feel that the filmmakers are confiding in me and letting me know that I'm in good hands.  I don't feel like the movie is trying to pull one over on me.  I can give myself over to the spell of the movie and recognize that while the film isn't keeping secrets from me, Adonis is hiding parts of himself from his mother, Bianca, and Rocky.  That allows me to know what Adonis is hiding and get in his head as well as that of the rest of the cast.  It's nothing groundbreaking or SEXXAAYYYY, but it's a solid foundation to grow attached to these characters.

 

FURY ROAD also benefits heavily from that elegant simplicity.  I know there were some who criticized the movie as being dumb and plotless, but I don't think that's the same thing this movie does with its pared down back and forth trajectory.

 

forwakens comes off like it's taking something very simple and making it as obtuse as possible for the sake of stretching things for the sake of a trilogy.


Edited by mcnooj82 - 1/3/17 at 12:07am
post #4 of 480

If Rey's backstory wasn't so annoying, I doubt I would put the critical thought into it required to get into the Mary Sue stuff.

post #5 of 480
In pure wish-fulfillment terms, if you gave every single person who's every existed the choice between being Rey, Indy, Adonis or Furiosa literally every single person in every galaxy would choose to be Rey. I know I would. She's literally superpowered. And she doesn't get the crap beat out of her even close to as much as the other three do. Furiosa doesn't even have all her limbs. It just seems so much more uncomfortable to be anyone other than Rey.

And while my love for my dad Han Solo is no secret I'm also literally world famous for saying over and over in multiple threads that Rocky Balboa the most lovable character in cinema history. I also literally lived in the literal jungle for a while, inspired in no small part by my main man Indy. Don't make me post the videos.

For dude Mary Sue wish fulfillments someone like Batman is probably closer to the mark than Indy or Creed. Who doesn't want to be a tall, dark and brooooooooody multi-billionaire NINJA genius with the hottest wheels this side of Michael Knight and the sweetest pad this side of Tony Sue ... I mean Stark? Bruce and Tony don't even have to worry about justifying themselves to any disapproving parents. So convenient.

As for who they get to hang out with, I meeeeeeeeeean, fricken Superman? The Incredible Hulk? Alfred? YES PLEASE.
post #6 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
 

And on the topic of the original definition of Mary Sue... I once again point to...

 

ohohohohohohoho

 

 

 

(can the producer/head of Lucasfilm be considered the source of the Mary Suein'?)

 

 

 

I had never heard of Bel Powley before, so I looked her up... and the image on the right is heavily photoshopped, which kinda undercuts the argument.

 

As for TFA, I really liked it and wouldn't consider Rey being a "Mary Sue" the problem. The problem I had with it was just that all three younger leads were sketches of characters. The movie's too busy to let any of them breathe long enough to make their mark.

 

That's the main reason I've always argued that Star Wars is the better film than Empire: SW manages to establish an entire reality, clearly define numerous likable/iconic characters, and then manages strong moments of action, drama and comedy along the way. That's an incredible feat.

 

TFA is a modern blockbuster, and modern blockbusters lack the confidence to slow down for even a moment. I think it's that "Cliff's Notes Charactization" that can make it easy to perceive a character as a "Mary Sue".

post #7 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farsight View Post

That's the main reason I've always argued that Star Wars is the better film than Empire: SW manages to establish an entire reality, clearly define numerous likable/iconic characters, and then manages strong moments of action, drama and comedy along the way. That's an incredible feat.

Hey, snap! My thing is along the same lines. Empire is awesome, but a huge part of that is that it's standing of the shoulders of one of the BALLSIEST cinematic giants of all time.
post #8 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
 

 

 

I had never heard of Bel Powley before, so I looked her up... and the image on the right is heavily photoshopped, which kinda undercuts the argument.

 

I don't think it does, really.  Because photoshopping is essentially no different from 'movie magic' these days.  If you can make someone 'look good' in a photo, you can make them 'look good' onscreen. 

 

REALITY: everybody gets heavily photoshopped (in addition to being heavily dolled up if you're a woman)


Edited by mcnooj82 - 1/3/17 at 12:41am
post #9 of 480
It's really about whether the characters seem to be playing on easy mode, whether their victories feel earned. The Avatar comparison was about right. That was something that really struck me from the first viewing, how Sully just swans in and becomes Pandora's greatest hero of all time like it ain't no thing.

With Rey it wasn't something I particularly noticed until it was pointed out, so I guess they got away with it. But she does seem to get off a little easy in that film, and it doesn't help that they over egg it a little with all the "wow who is this? She's so amazing!" stuff. If would've helped if the heroics had been balanced out by a fundamental character flaw or two.

I fully expect them to over-compensate for all this next time by punishing the character to an excessive degree.
post #10 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post

It's really about whether the characters seem to be playing on easy mode, whether their victories feel earned. The Avatar comparison was about right. That was something that really struck me from the first viewing, how Sully just swans in and becomes Pandora's greatest hero of all time like it ain't no thing.

With Rey it wasn't something I particularly noticed until it was pointed out, so I guess they got away with it. But she does seem to get off a little easy in that film, and it doesn't help that they over egg it a little with all the "wow who is this? She's so amazing!" stuff. If would've helped if the heroics had been balanced out by a fundamental character flaw or two.

I fully expect them to over-compensate for all this next time by punishing the character to an excessive degree.

 

oh man, I would laugh so hard if they ended up over-compensating the way Lucas did between phantom and clones!

 

With Rey, I think they got away with it because the movie kept commenting on how inexplicably amazing it was that she was doing all these things.  That indicated that there could be some kind of revelation at some point during the movie... that obviously never really came to pass.  It was just couched in more questions.  But it got us through that first viewing.  AVADAH couldn't manage that because it wasn't really hiding anything of note behind the formulaic story.

 

So yeah, I certainly didn't catch Rey's EASY MODE until the discussion of Mary Sues got going.  Until then, I was fixating on the awful DETHSTA3.  When the Mary Sue thing got brought up, I thought it was a reasonable point to raise, but I was more fascinated by the way it set off all sorts of people in different directions.  So then it simply became a case of trying to figure out the source of all that discord.

post #11 of 480

Because the gold standard definition of what a Mary Sue consists of is basically just Wesley Crusher, I found upon close inspection the Han Solo stuff is maybe the worst of it.  She's this scavenger who has nothing, but she's so sweet and likable and when she meets the old films most iconic character she's instantly telling him things about his ship he doesn't even realize, and he can't help but instantly take a tremendous shine to her and offer a job basically immediately.  The one time she fucks up in the entire film during the Ranthar sequence, it turns out to be the best possible thing that could have happened just then and the ideal solution to the problem.  

 

Like Jake Sully integrates with and becomes the best of the Na'vi in the scope of a movie, Rey integrates and becomes the queen of Star War in a scene.  But it's important to point out it's not just Rey.  Poe is very evidently short served, and I've gone on and on about my problems with Finn.  Like you guys said, they're vague sketches of characters played by charismatic actors.  JJ has this magical way with these characters, like instead of a cohesive whole he just kind of pieces them together from post it notes and random thoughts and brainstorms they had, and he just kind of duct tapes the sum total together.  

post #12 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

 

When the Mary Sue thing got brought up, I thought it was a reasonable point to raise, but I was more fascinated by the way it set off all sorts of people in different directions.  So then it simply became a case of trying to figure out the source of all that discord.

 

I guess it hit a sweet spot by feeding off and into both the Star Wars comeback and pop feminist zeitgeists. The viral gods were most satisfied with the offering...

post #13 of 480
You know who's a huge fucking Mary Sue? Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. Effortlessly the best at everything he tries, beloved and even envied by all other characters, and even his supposed downfall turns him into the coolest cyber samurai badass in the universe.

It's especially egregious in the first one. "What do these controls do? Uh oh, I'm blowing up the bad guy's spaceship! Woopieee!"
post #14 of 480

Young Anakin sure is, but once he grows up he gains the flaw of being a creepy unlikable fascist.  

post #15 of 480
hahahah the only problem was that everybody hated him (both Lloyd and Christensen) so much from the beginning that nobody needed to refer to him as a Mary Sue as a perjorative!

good at everything except being an appealing character

Prequel Obi-Wan is obviously a Mary Sue because he's played by Ewan McGregor, THAT BEAUTIFUL MAN!!!
post #16 of 480

Prequel Obi Wan is maybe the best thing about the prequels?

post #17 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
TFA is a modern blockbuster, and modern blockbusters lack the confidence to slow down for even a moment. I think it's that "Cliff's Notes Charactization" that can make it easy to perceive a character as a "Mary Sue".

 

 

This is the nub, I think, more than anything else.

 

There's a lot of terminology creep here that's hard to navigate.  I understand why, but it seems like the only reason we're saying Luke himself isn't a Mary Sue in this context is that we've got the other two movies to look at for the journey fulfillment, hurdles, failure, trials etc.(and this has probably been discussed elsewhere plenty)

Otherwise he's essentially bulletproof and unstoppable in ANH, despite his Conrad-ian arc.  What gets in the way of that impression?  Acting I guess, as well as having people disagree with him more often and some vocalised self doubt.  So maybe that's what's missing.  But it ain't much.

I guess the filmmakers probably thought that you can short hand all that if Rey is scared enough and surprised/overjoyed at her big wins  and it seems to have worked ok for a lot of people.

 

The Indy comparison is interesting because he's another one that harks back to things before this post modern label.  The old serials were full of guys who were essentially unstoppable and no one really cared (for a while at least):  Doc Savage, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers.  Indiana Jones is one of them.  The difference is really only that Ford manages to show the sweat and desperation in this adventuring, rather than making it look easy.

 

As has also probably been discussed to death, I thinkTFAs everso slightly lighter, breezier tone , as well as its contemporary pacing and character shorthand, is just making it more obvious how easy designated heroes seem to have it at times.

 

Of late I'd say Star Lord is actually the biggest wish fulfillment character.  The whole 'not as famous as he'd like' thing and fact that Guardians is "the funny one" acts a bit of a smokescreen for that.

post #18 of 480
Indy and Bond though. I don't get calling them Mary Sues, because they're literally the center of their respective universes. Wish fulfillment, sure, but in my mind a whole different thing that changes the meaning of the term. Might as well call Hamlet a Mary Sue.
post #19 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muzman View Post
 

 

 

This is the nub, I think, more than anything else.

 

There's a lot of terminology creep here that's hard to navigate.  I understand why, but it seems like the only reason we're saying Luke himself isn't a Mary Sue in this context is that we've got the other two movies to look at for the journey fulfillment, hurdles, failure, trials etc.(and this has probably been discussed elsewhere plenty)

Otherwise he's essentially bulletproof and unstoppable in ANH, despite his Conrad-ian arc.  What gets in the way of that impression?  Acting I guess, as well as having people disagree with him more often and some vocalised self doubt.  So maybe that's what's missing.  But it ain't much.

I guess the filmmakers probably thought that you can short hand all that if Rey is scared enough and surprised/overjoyed at her big wins  and it seems to have worked ok for a lot of people.

 

The Indy comparison is interesting because he's another one that harks back to things before this post modern label.  The old serials were full of guys who were essentially unstoppable and no one really cared (for a while at least):  Doc Savage, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers.  Indiana Jones is one of them.  The difference is really only that Ford manages to show the sweat and desperation in this adventuring, rather than making it look easy.

 

As has also probably been discussed to death, I thinkTFAs everso slightly lighter, breezier tone , as well as its contemporary pacing and character shorthand, is just making it more obvious how easy designated heroes seem to have it at times.

 

Of late I'd say Star Lord is actually the biggest wish fulfillment character.  The whole 'not as famous as he'd like' thing and fact that Guardians is "the funny one" acts a bit of a smokescreen for that.

To be totally clear on kind of a minor point, Luke is the opposite of a Mary Sue.  Luke sucks at everything and whines about his life. His only contribution is a skill(Good pilot with the force) that he uses one time in the critical moment of the climax.  He runs off to confront Vader too soon and loses like a chump.  He's unsure of himself and his skillset starts as very limited.  

 

If Luke was Rey he would be at the farm just killing it, running the whole place himself.  He'd get in martial combat with the sand people and kick their asses and Obi Wan would be all like "Ohhh... Well damn."  He'd tell Han things about the Falcon he didn't know and become besties with Chewie, and he'd beat Vader in a duel at the end of the movie.  He wouldn't need Obi Wan to show him to trust in the Force and himself, he'd just figure it out on his own when his back was against the wall.  

post #20 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muzman View Post

I understand why, but it seems like the only reason we're saying Luke himself isn't a Mary Sue in this context is that we've got the other two movies to look at for the journey fulfillment, hurdles, failure, trials etc.(and this has probably been discussed elsewhere plenty)
Otherwise he's essentially bulletproof and unstoppable in ANH, despite his Conrad-ian arc.  What gets in the way of that impression?  Acting I guess, as well as having people disagree with him more often and some vocalised self doubt.  So maybe that's what's missing.  But it ain't much.

That and he gets the everliving fuck beat out of him by sand people. And gets stung in the ass by the ball droid a few times before he learns to deflect the bolts properly. And he gets drowned almost to death by a garbage anaconda before the Empire inadvertently saves his ass by turning on the trash compactor and scaring it off.
post #21 of 480

Good point about the sand people.  But largely his ill advised gung ho ideas turn out to be good, his hail mary (lol) moves work,  he's a great shot (thanks to nailing Womp Rats or whatever), has an easy time with machines.  Turns out he's a natural at all sorts of stuff.  We can credit all this to the Force and who we find out he is later,  but in ANH by itself he's shining a lot.  But, y'know, the hero etc.  Today I submit this would bug us more (I had forgotten just how tersely great he was until rewatching it recently)

 

I imagine all this is in the other thread already, but the Rey parallel seems excessive.  She wasn't killing it as a scavenger.   She has way more hand to hand combat skills than Luke, that is true, and she seems even more receptive to the force than him.  But she wasn't up against Darth Vader, not by a long shot.  So in that it's harder to measure.

 

The problem here is in trying to make an on paper assessment of a character who exists half in reference to and in context with the characters she is being compared to.  I'm not saying don't do that.  It's interesting.  But a lot of details in the overall impression have different impacts.  Like finding Falcon details: is that strict character sheet accessable skills or a bit of a joke about how her precociousness annoys Han a bit like Luke's did at times?  I kinda took it as the latter I guess.  Han trusting her competence way sooner than Luke too.  It's that echo/rhyme of the Luke arc but with a twist.  Is that because she's obviously so much better or because Han has mellowed a bit with age? Or both?

Do you need an Obi Wan in a post rebellion world  or is Luke's legend enough by itself for a bit of Road to Damascus stuff?

 

I inject all of this (with some validity I think) to dilute that on paper awesomeness.  Should I not be doing this?  I'm not sure.  That was my experience however.

post #22 of 480

I think you're really brushing over the fact that Luke sucks at everything but flying.  There's simply no comparison between him and Rey.  

post #23 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
 

I think you're really brushing over the fact that Luke sucks at everything but flying.  There's simply no comparison between him and Rey.  

 

Except he doesn't. At all. He's a good shot with a blaster during the Death Star escape. He's able to use a razor thin grapple wire with no problems despite obviously having no training with that kind of thing. He kicks ass on the Falcon's guns. He kicks ass with the training drone the first time he uses a lightsaber. 

 

So...pretty much everything Rey is good at with some added technical skills due to growing up as a scavenger.

 

Literally FOUR bad things happen to Luke: His Aunt and Uncle are killed, He gets ambushed by Tusken Raiders, the trash monster grabs him and his mentor gets killed. Everything else is saving the princess, saving the day and being a fucking awesome adventure hero. 

 

Saying he sucks at everything is simply not true. 

post #24 of 480
The ball droid zaps Luke before he learns to deflect it, so those two are pretty even. But the fact he learns to deal with it with the blast shield down by the end of his first lesson is pretty neato.

He needs Han to save his ass from Vader and prior to that gets completely wrecked by both the sand people and the garbage anaconda though, just utterly dominated by both, and both times needs to be rescued by others. Rey's a far, FAR better fighter than Luke is even before she gets guidance on the Force.
post #25 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucho View Post

The ball droid zaps Luke before he learns to deflect it, so those two are pretty even. But the fact he learns to deal with it with the blast shield down by the end of his first lesson is pretty neato.

He needs Han to save his ass from Vader and prior to that gets completely wrecked by both the sand people and the garbage anaconda though, just utterly dominated by both, and both times needs to be rescued by others. Rey's a far, FAR better fighter than Luke is even before she gets guidance on the Force.

I don't know why this is even a debate.  Rey is CLEARLY way better at everything.  She's even a better pilot!  Which is Luke's most incredible skill.  

post #26 of 480
The reason why that Indiana Jones and Rey comparison doesn't really work is, despite both being hyper-competent, is that only one of these characters is drawn as relatable. I like Indiana Jones because of his many quirks and flaws; this is a man who, upon believing his ex-girlfriend had been killed, runs up to the main badguy, guns drawn and prepared to go down in a blaze of glory just to take him out. It probably also helps that, at least in Raiders, he tended to get his ass kicked. A lot. But he got back up and did what needed to be done. That's what makes him admirable.

Rey is dull; Rey's entire character begins and ends with "Strong Female Character." She can do anything and everything because she is strong AND NEEDS NO MAN TO HELP HER *snaps fingers*
post #27 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
 

oh man, I would laugh so hard if they ended up over-compensating the way Lucas did between phantom and clones!

 

With Rey, I think they got away with it because the movie kept commenting on how inexplicably amazing it was that she was doing all these things.  That indicated that there could be some kind of revelation at some point during the movie... that obviously never really came to pass.  It was just couched in more questions.  But it got us through that first viewing.  AVADAH couldn't manage that because it wasn't really hiding anything of note behind the formulaic story.

 

So yeah, I certainly didn't catch Rey's EASY MODE until the discussion of Mary Sues got going.  Until then, I was fixating on the awful DETHSTA3.  When the Mary Sue thing got brought up, I thought it was a reasonable point to raise, but I was more fascinated by the way it set off all sorts of people in different directions.  So then it simply became a case of trying to figure out the source of all that discord.


I absolutely caught that Rey was playing on easy mode during my first viewing, and much of it has to do with her use of the force. She's essentially amazing at this mystical art with zero training and the movie does nothing to justify it. Instead it seems like the filmmakers just wanted to rush through her journey because they felt it was something we'd seen before. And that doesn't reflect on the character as much as it robs the film, and by extension the trilogy, of any stakes. Making the main protagonist hyper-competent and the main antagonist kind of a bumbling dope is a weird direction to go in.

 

Admittedly, the sequels could go a way towards explaining it, but I'm not going to give this movie a break because of something that only exists in my head. 

 

That's why I don't at all understand why people would call Creed a Mary Sue. Not only does the movie make it feel like he truly has to battle for everything, he also ends up losing.

post #28 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post

I don't know why this is even a debate.  Rey is CLEARLY way better at everything.  She's even a better pilot!  Which is Luke's most incredible skill.

When Luke finally sends those torpedoes to meet the Galen Reactor there's not even anyone left to shoot at him since Han came to the rescue. It's the easiest shot anyone makes in any of the 10 Star Wars films.

Meanwhile Rey, in a big old pile of junk freighter she's never flown before (or has she?), successfully dogfights the crap out of a couple of much more maneuverable tie fighters with no help other than Finn, who throughout the film is so incompetent he's essentially a large rock hanging around her neck she has to babysit. She even has to perform special crazy maneuvers to line up shots for that buffoon because he gets his gun jammed!
post #29 of 480

She even has a line saying something along the lines of she's never flown before, or at least never left the planet?  The implication of that dialogue being included is that she's shocked she's such a good pilot, as in she's NEVER done anything like that before.  Yeah maybe she's flown a Hoth speeder down the road, but she's clearly never flown like THAT.

post #30 of 480
Luke learns to use the Force over the course of three long, gruelling films in which he gets smashed hard over and over and over and over.

Rey IS The Force by the end of her first movie and she never even comes close to getting her hair wet, let alone drowning.




God is she ever adorable though.

No wonder Leia totally ignored her dear, dear old friend Chewie in their shared moment of unimaginable grief that only the two of them could ever understand just so she could hug Rey, someone she'd never even laid eyes upon, let alone met, until that moment.
post #31 of 480
I came in to say that my initial comparison of Rey with Indiana Jones was incorrect. Muzman has the better one with the old Serial characters. Doc Savage and The Shadow never get their asses kicked and they always know what to do. And that serial stuff is firmly in Star Wars' DNA. That's why it didn't grate on me so much. Sure, it lacks sophistication but it's as valid approach to this material as any.

And if you want a younger, plucky (and unnaturally lucky) analogue for Rey who happens to have a cute pet/sidekick, consider this guy:

post #32 of 480
AND Luke spends the movie getting his balls kicked by Han. He spends most of TFA trying to impress her.
post #33 of 480

I think presentation makes a big difference. No one calls James Bond, Batman, or Lara Croft Mary Sues because they're specifically introduced as being the best in the business, with years of experience, numerous adventures under their belts, allies in every port, well-honed training, etc. So it makes sense that they're hypercompetent. Who wants to watch James Bond learn how to disassemble and clean a handgun anyway?

 

The problem is presenting a character as an everyman/everywoman, then making them hypercompetent beyond all reason. Imagine if the opening scroll for TFA had said "Rey Haagendaaz, the best-trained Jedi in the galaxy, is undercover on Not Tattooine, awaiting orders." The movie would not change at all, there would just now be a reason why she can fly circles around enemy pilots, resist mind probes, mind control people, win lightsaber duels, et al. And people wouldn't criticize it because her presentation would match her premise.

 

You know, just like how people criticized the latter Die Hard movies for taking John McClane from "a particularly skilled police officer" to "Tony Jaa with bullets."

post #34 of 480

Oh God, why are you guys doing this to yourselves?

 

Oh well, might as well join in.

 

The earliest Mary Sue I ever heard about was, ironically, Mara Jade from the Timothy Zahn Star Wars novels of the early '90s. She's not just a MS and a wish fulfillment, but is also what I call a "pet character" for the author, in that he includes her in just about any (SW-related) writing even when not necessary. This is pretty common in comic books, such as with, say, Greg Rucka and Renee Montoya. 

 

So Mara Jade is introduced as a former imperial spy that was almost the Emperor's replacement apprentice for Vader and is good at just about everything except the Force. That's the one thing she never excelled at, but Zahn actually includes it in his stories by being outright dismissive of the Force and Jedi and emphasizing instead physical ability and competence. Jade can fly, fight, has infinite confidence and always knows the right answer, and spends the latter part of the Thrawn trilogy bossing Luke around. 

 

With Rey, I think it's entirely intentional that she be good at everything. How Abrams et al try to balance things out is by weaponizing the refusal of the call by having her insist she has to get back to Jakku to wait for her family. I'd also argue, characterization wise, that her stunted emotional growth and/or being "on the spectrum" are a factor here. At the very least she's a Good Will Hunting, who is a supergenius but his own self-destructive tendencies hold him back. But you guys don't want to hear that!

 

Another factor here is the weird tradition in SW movies to show us the evidence that a character is a good pilot by showing them essentially driving a car first. Yes, Luke tells us late in the movie he can fly a T-16 (a ship we never see or see him in), but the only real proof of his ability is he can drive a speeder. Same with Anakin and his podracer, and then same with Rey and her floating motorcycle thingie.

 

This is where the metaphors get mixed up in SW, first by Lucas and now everyone else: spaceships are kind of like horses for knights/cowboys and hotrods/muscle cars simultaneously. In the latter case, hence why Han is always tinkering like the Falcon is a car in his garage. But if you then have a character literally driving a car analogue, what does the spaceship become? 

 

I would swallow Rey being so good with the Force if there was any hint of it before she meets Maz. We at least know Luke's father was a Jedi very early on, but Rey grabs the lightsaber at the halfway point of the movie and suddenly has the Force because the script remembered it's a Star Wars movie.

 

Still, she sure is cute.

post #35 of 480
Are you arguing that Rey wanting to stay on Jakku totally worked and brought her down to earth then? Or that she has autism, or is somehow self destructive? Cause I'm not sure I agree with that.
post #36 of 480

I'm arguing that the filmmakers attempt to show her reluctance as a flaw that holds her back from achieving her full potential. Whether or not they succeed is up to the viewer.

 

And the Asperger's thing is something Freeman and I like to trot out. Mostly it's Ridley's performance, playing Rey as someone devoid of any social cues. And it goes beyond living in isolation, it's more like there are times she's completely uninhibited about her body language or appearance.

 

Which probably has more to do with attempts to not emphasize her femininity. A lesser movie would have her find Leia's old makeup case on the Falcon or something, like Leeloo in The Fifth Element (not a lesser movie, just an example).

post #37 of 480

Let me caveat this by saying my job, as an editor for the financial news department of Thomson Reuters, pairs me with a partner. And for the first two years I worked with a guy with Asperger's that ultimately got a doctor's note to work from home because his condition made it hard for him to be around people.

 

And I see a lot of him in Ridley's performance.

 

But you don't have to believe me! I think Daniel Craig's Bond is gay!

post #38 of 480
I think if TFA played more into Rey being a gushing Fangirl, and a bit anti-social, I think people would have less of an issue with her character.
post #39 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ska Oreo View Post

I think if TFA played more into Rey being a gushing Fangirl, and a bit anti-social, I think people would have less of an issue with her character.

That would make it worse.  That is trying to be cute.  She's better off effortlessly cute.  

post #40 of 480
Fair enough, I guess. But Rey pre-Han Solo is much, much better than post, without all the chosen one shit.
post #41 of 480

Easily.  That's maybe the best part of the movie?  The first act.  The moment they meet Han it slooowwwwwwwwly starts to fall to laziness. 

post #42 of 480
Yuuuuup.

So since most of agree about Rey...how does Episode VIII fix her?
post #43 of 480
Make her blow it on something that counts. You know, Luke in Empire. Maybe she's got a bit of Anakin style arrogance.
post #44 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ska Oreo View Post

Yuuuuup.

So since most of agree about Rey...how does Episode VIII fix her?

I said this is the other thread, but retrospectively explain her talents by showing that she was a talented student and Luke's academy who followed Kylo as a knight of Ren and murdered the others.  It can be the gut punch Empire moment.  Kylo was told to kill her to prove his loyalty to Snoke and the dark side as a test, and he can't do it, so he uses his power to mind wipe her and dump her on Jakku. This realization gives Rey something new and different to chew on and deal with about herself.  Not the same old Luke thing of "I could fall to the dark side" but "I DID fall to the dark side, and now I must reconcile with that."  It also makes for a more interesting relationship with Luke, instead of another simple Luke Obi Wan story.

 

Otherwise this next film will just be Rey even further along in her training to take down Snoke...  Like Luke in Empire.  We need different.

post #45 of 480
Like KOTOR!
post #46 of 480
The image of murderous Dark Side nine-year-old Rey is both hilarious and awesome.
post #47 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Codename View Post
 

 

Except he doesn't. At all. He's a good shot with a blaster during the Death Star escape. He's able to use a razor thin grapple wire with no problems despite obviously having no training with that kind of thing. He kicks ass on the Falcon's guns. He kicks ass with the training drone the first time he uses a lightsaber. 

 

So...pretty much everything Rey is good at with some added technical skills due to growing up as a scavenger.

 

Literally FOUR bad things happen to Luke: His Aunt and Uncle are killed, He gets ambushed by Tusken Raiders, the trash monster grabs him and his mentor gets killed. Everything else is saving the princess, saving the day and being a fucking awesome adventure hero. 

 

Saying he sucks at everything is simply not true. 

 

It's not necessarily that Luke sucks, but that he struggles in realistic ways. I'm going to quote myself from the TFA thread - 

 

Quote:
Luke and Indy - Indy less so - fail constantly, rub people the wrong way, and struggle with nearly everything they do. Luke is a talented pilot and becomes a badass Jedi, but - he gets beaten up by sand people and rescued by Obi-wan, beaten up by hoodlums in a bar and rescued by Obi-wan, his rescue plan ends with him cornered until Leia saves him, and, in the final battle, Biggs, Wedge, and Han save him as he's about to be killed. In Empire, Luke gets ambushed and scarred by a Wampa, doesn't get to topple a walker with a cable, repeatedly fails with Yoda, fails in a vision he brought on himself, gets beaten up and dismembered by Vader after getting too full of himself, and is rescued by the people he came to rescue. In Jedi he succeeds in what he's trying to do, but he's clearly panicking with the rancor, he gets shot in the hand during the sail barge assault, and, although he defeats Vader, the main villain whoops his butt effortlessly and Luke is only saved when Vader rescues him.

 

I have no issue with what Rey accomplishes in TFA - flying the Falcon, knocking back Kylo Ren's psychic probing, and defeating him. But all these things are shown as coming easily to her - she impresses Finn with her ability to handle herself where Luke gets beaten up and rescued by Obi-wan twice; she tells Han how to fix his ship where Han repeatedly tells Luke to fuck off; Luke repeatedly gets saved in ANH and ESB whereas in TFA Rey either does the saving or saves herself. All you'd need to do to make her a more grounded character is have her unsure of what to do in a situation, have her get rescued once or twice (Finn gets rescued several times), and not have everyone quite so taken with her at first (Han obviously has time for Finn, but he still treats him with a bit of cynicism). 

 

Basically, I really like how they handled Finn - I don't care that he's a bit upbeat for a child soldier - but I think they were worried about letting Rey be anything less than a total badass. She's not a bad character - she's endearing, a bit off-kilter, and compassionate, and these traits come across clearly - but she is a bit badly written, especially compared to Luke.


Edited by RexBanner - 1/3/17 at 6:26am
post #48 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post

Like KOTOR!

They've stolen SOOOO much from EU stuff anyway, I mean why not when you're lifting Kylo.

post #49 of 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
 

I said this is the other thread, but retrospectively explain her talents by showing that she was a talented student and Luke's academy who followed Kylo as a knight of Ren and murdered the others.  It can be the gut punch Empire moment.  Kylo was told to kill her to prove his loyalty to Snoke and the dark side as a test, and he can't do it, so he uses his power to mind wipe her and dump her on Jakku. This realization gives Rey something new and different to chew on and deal with about herself.  Not the same old Luke thing of "I could fall to the dark side" but "I DID fall to the dark side, and now I must reconcile with that."  It also makes for a more interesting relationship with Luke, instead of another simple Luke Obi Wan story.

 

Otherwise this next film will just be Rey even further along in her training to take down Snoke...  Like Luke in Empire.  We need different.

 

I sincerely doubt we'll get anything like that. Amnesia stories are convoluted and inherently filled with drama-killing technobabble. It creates a situation where the protagonist is going through something no human being - or very few - have ever experienced, so it's difficult to relate to. Everyone can relate to wanting something more, feeling like they're wasting their lives, feeling abandoned - less can grasp what it's like to be someone different because of some amnesia spell. It works in a game because you are the character, you've gone through a big chunk of what they've gone through, in a sense; less so in a piece of popular fiction that requires a large section of the audience to relate closely to the character. 

 

I would bet millions I don't have that they will never reveal that Rey was mind-wiped after turning to the dark side. It's dramatically inert and convoluted, and the writers won't want to make the hero of their family franchise a mass murderer. 

 

Quote:
You know who's a huge fucking Mary Sue? Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. Effortlessly the best at everything he tries, beloved and even envied by all other characters, and even his supposed downfall turns him into the coolest cyber samurai badass in the universe.

 

Anakin's not a Mary Sue - despite being highly skilled (a product of a lot of training and natural ability), he has some pretty devastating fatal flaws that result in him fucking up the entire galaxy and spending his days as a self-loathing, wifeless, childless, friendless, limbless husk. 
 


Edited by RexBanner - 1/3/17 at 6:35am
post #50 of 480
I bet it ends up being Rian Johnson who gets to decide what Rey's whole deal is. No way JJ had that nailed down.
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