I’m going to say it, Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is a Mary Sue.
In one of the writing communities recently, I came across a post wherein the author had seen a YouTube video discussing this topic. He wanted some more opinions on the matter and I chimed in.
Before I delve into my opinions on this, I should stop and define what a Mary Sue, or a Gary Sue, is.
A Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through unrealistic abilities. Often this character is recognized as an author insert or wish-fulfillment. Sometimes the name is reserved only for women, and male Sues are called “Gary Stus,” or “Marty Stus”; but more often the name is used for both sexes.
Even though the wish fulfillment is part of it, I think most people think of a Mary Sue as a character that just seems to know how to do everything perfectly, and this is how I view the phrase as well.
Let’s look into Rey’s character: (I haven’t seen the movie in a while so I’m going from memory here).
When we meet Rey, she’s been left by herself for a long time, 16 or so years. She’s spent all the time scavenging, tinkering, and fending for herself. So she’s scrappy, independent, and self-sufficient.
Soon she meets Finn, an escapee Storm Trooper and the First Order shows up soon to hunt them and the BB-8 unit. They hop into the conveniently located Millennium Falcon.
Rey is able to pilot the Falcon after a minute of fumbling around they eventually escape the planet.
Later on, after they’ve met with Han Solo, Rey is captured, taken back to the starkiller base, and interrogated by Kylo Ren. Shortly after this interrogation, she’s able to use the force well enough to convince a storm trooper guard to let her go.
She then has a lightsaber duel with and injured and holding back Kylo, escapes on the Falcon, and then pilots a ship soon after to go meet Luke.
So the parts where she Mary Sues (I just made that a verb):
- She pilots the millennium falcon despite seemingly never having flown a spaceship before. (We won’t mention the convenience of the Falcon sitting there to begin with.)
- She uses the force to convince a guard to allow her to escape
- She uses a light saber.
I’m sure I missed things and there is a lot more nuance to the story, but these are some of the things that bugged me in my initial viewing of The Force Awakens.
There are a lot of fan theories and analysis that pored over every scene, composition of shots, and pulling apart every line of dialogue that has fleshed out her character more, and they have some pretty interesting ideas on who here parents were, and why she is so strong in the force.
I get that, but these are nerd analyzing a movie after it comes out to look for tiny details, and conjecturing on those. First-time watch-though of Force Awakens, Rey was simply too good to be true.
In A New Hope Luke gets a few minutes of dedicated 1-on-1 time with Obi-Wan in the Falcon training with his helmet, lightsaber and the little flying droid things. From that standpoint alone he’s in a far better situation story-wise than Rey.
That’s all I have to say on the matter, let me know what you think!