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Rey, Mary Sues, her progression and the nature of the Force


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#1
Driver

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I feel like this is big enough to warrant its own topic.

 

Here's the drama:

 

1. Max Landis called Rey a Mary Sue

2. Lots of people think Rey progressed too quickly with her powers and didn't earn/train for such power

3. People are unhappy that Rey and Kylo Ren are doing things with The Force that we've never seen before

 

SO LET'S TALK IT OUT.

 

First-- is Rey a Mary Sue. I know Max Landis through friends, we've been in the same place a couple times and talked-- and I say this as somebody who generally likes him and thinks he's a great writer-- he does live to troll. He's amazed by the fact people take him so seriously.

 

When he called Rey a Mary Sue he was referring to the concept that in fanfic, a lot of writers will play fantasy fulfillment and write a character that is perfect at everything, and is clearly an avatar for themselves. As far as Rey was concerned-- he means her ability to do everything well and never truly be in peril.

 

He was NOT meaning it in a sexist way-- but calling out the first true female lead of a Star Wars movie is not an easy task. Technically, I think he's right. She is great at pretty much everything.

 

But here's the thing he fails to realize-- Star Wars is mythic storytelling.

 

Everyone is a Mary Sue.

 

Luke didn't fail at much in ANH. He failed constantly in ESB, then never again in Jedi. Myths are told in big sweeping strokes-- Star Wars has NEVER been subtle. All the heroes in Star Wars have been the best at their given thing. That's HOW Star Wars stories are told, and I don't think Rey is a outlier example in any way shape or form.

 

NEXT

 

Did Rey progress too quickly with her powers. YES, she was doing things that it took Luke a long time to do-- but they didn't happen in a vacuum. First-- we have no idea of her past-- it's very possible she was trained for a time as a small child.

 

Also-- Luke progressed significantly on his own between ANH and ESB so I don't think it's out of line to assume she could pick things up instinctually.

 

And if you look carefully, when Kylo Ren is interrogating her, she's learning from him. He gets in her head-- but then she naturally defends herself and pushes back, and it scares him. She's heard of Jedi and what they can do, she experiences what Ren is doing to her-- why isn't this enough to give her some foundation?

 

Part of the problem is people seem to be using Luke as a benchmark for how she should progress. Why? He's one Jedi. As much as it wounds me to reference the PT-- its clear that the Jedi way of training has changed over time. There are also different aspects to the force-- why does she have to excel in one more than another or in a certain order?

 

I don't think there's enough of Rey's backstory known to cry foul on her abilities. Luke and Anakin both showed some instinctual use of The Force without formal training.

 

AND

 

As for the actual powers seen in TFA... Kylo was strong with the telekinesis, sure-- but I don't think any of it was really out of line. People seem to forget that Vader plucked the existence of Leia as a Skywalker out of Luke's head rather easily. And he mentioned Leia had a considerable resistance to the MIND PROBE. I always assumed that was him trying to read her thoughts.

 

I guess the big thing people are losing their **** over is the lightsaber calling to Rey.

 

I guess my response to that is, just because we haven't seen that happen before, why is automatically wrong? Every movie showed us a new aspect of The Force. Why do we have to say if Luke and Vader didn't do it, it isn't legit?

 

In ANH Jedi powers were the mind trick, some precognition, some FEELINGS, some instinctual combat flying, and Ben speaking from the beyond. We didn't see telekinesis until ESB. And Luke pulled a fancy jump in there, but it wasn't until ROTJ that Luke got all flippy and jumpy and we saw him, Palpatine and Vader all probing each others minds.

 

Why can we not accept something new? If you didn't like the lightsaber calling to Rey, did you suddenly not like the fact that Luke gained the ability to jump and flip when we didn't see Vader or Obi-Wan do it in ANH?

 



#2
captainbleh

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I think trope-speak is lazy and reductionist and anyone who uses a rotted trope like Mary Sue (used to mean a specific thing and now just seems to mean "implausible female character") should expect to be misunderstood regardless of their intent

 

I'm struggling a bit (but just a bit) with Rey because there were times in the movie when I found her precociousness a bit jarring, but I didn't know if I was having trouble with a character that was great at pretty much everything or a character whose "great at pretty much everything-ness" was poorly written / established / depicted (if that makes sense)

 

I need to sleep on it (it's nearly 2 am here)


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#3
DANA-kin Skywalker

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Ive never heeard of the term Mary sue until this whole issue crept up with Rey. I loved her character, but there was something about her that didn't feel right, to me, but I couldnt express what it was. It wasn't Ridley's performance at all-it was this particular aspect of how her character was written, and THIS is what it was; too powerful too quickly. So here's my take:

1) is she a Mary sue? Since I've heard the term for he first time a day ago, I have no idea/no comment.

2). Did she become too powerful too quickly? Yes, a bit. Resisting the mind interrogation I can roll with. She's gifted in the force, so that can be instinctual. Come to find out she was actually reading HIS mind was brilliant. I totally buy the fact she simply learned right then and there by Kyo's example...no explanation needed. Got it. Love it. Out "forcing" Kylo for the lightsaber...I love that moment. What I don't buy, however is Kylo's own skill seemed nerfed in that moment. It wiggled around a bit like a rookie; they've established he's pretty good with telekinesis, but suddenly isn't for plot convenience. The only Rey power I can't roll with is mind-tricking the stormtrooper. How does she know that's even a thing? That seems like too advanced a force power to simply pick up on the fly. Luke had to be coached by Obi-Wan to use the force, and he had to rely on others for help through all three movies. If it weren't for his reliance of others, he wouldn't have made it off the first death star. He would have missed the exhaust port. He would have possibly died in the snow on Hoth. He wouldn't have known to go to Dagobah, and whe he was there, it was a lot of learning from mistakes. He would have died on the second death star at the emperors hands. Rey...did everything right. She was never in any peril. She was a walking deus ex machina.

3). Rey and Kylo doing things with the force never seen before: I LOVE that. It's a strength of the movie, not a weakness. I want to see new things with the force. That was a flaw of the prequels IMO; not enough diversity and imagination with the force. Throw rocks and shoot lightning. Check those two boxes off. You've graduated. I always envisioned telekinesis and lightning were just a few of many things the force could allow someone to perform.

#4
Mara Jade Skywalker

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I love everything about Rey and am both super happy little girls have her as a role model and jealous that I didn't when I was a kid.

Yes, she learned things quickly. That's the entire point. She's strong in the Force. She's also been living on her own for 15+ years and has to be good at things in order to survive. If she's not good at fixing things and scavenging, she dies. She has to learn alien languages and droid binary because she lives in a place where its useful.

When did it become a problem for heroes to be overpowered? Especially female heroes.

#5
ShadowDog

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I have a lot more thoughts but just now I wanted to say the Mary Sue thing has nothing to do with sexism. Wesley Crusher is the biggest Mary Sue ever and he was a dude.

#6
Driver

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 What I don't buy, however is Kylo's own skill seemed nerfed in that moment. It wiggled around a bit like a rookie; they've established he's pretty good with telekinesis, but suddenly isn't for plot convenience. 

I just took that as Rey was already grabbing it too and he was wrestling her for it. That and he's not exactly in top form as he was bleeding from a bowcaster gutshot.



#7
Poe Dameron

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1. Max Landis called Rey a Mary Sue

 

A Mary Sue is too strong a term.  I just put it to clumsy writing that they made things too easy for her.

 

 

 

Luke didn't fail at much in ANH. He failed constantly in ESB, then never again in Jedi.

 

Luke may not have failed much in A New Hope, but he was not much of an asset, one could even call him a burden, until relatively late in the movie.  He didn't start to take steps on his own until Ben went off to shut down the tractor beam.  And, even then, his rescue plan was half-baked and required quick-thinking by Leia and R2-D2 to keep them all from being killed.  He was learning and growing as the movie went on.

 

 

 

That's HOW Star Wars stories are told, and I don't think Rey is a outlier example in any way shape or form.

 

If we're following the hero's journey principles, they are definitely making her road too easy.  And since Luke Skywalker is not only the best example in Star Wars, but probably the single most prominent modern example of the hero archetype, a comparison is valid.

 

 

 

Did Rey progress too quickly with her powers. YES, she was doing things that it took Luke a long time to do-- but they didn't happen in a vacuum. First-- we have no idea of her past-- it's very possible she was trained for a time as a small child.

 

At this point, I would hope so.  But that's speculation.  In this movie, we're only presented with her suddenly blossoming into power.  It's not even treated as a mystery.  Kylo Ren just walks off and declares her super powerful and warns his underlings that they need to find her quickly before she gets any stronger.

 

This gives the impression that her exponential growth is from just being super-talented.

 

 

 

Part of the problem is people seem to be using Luke as a benchmark for how she should progress. Why? He's one Jedi.

 

It goes back to earning her power.  As a matter of storytelling, just receiving her power with little effort serves to cheapen the whole concept of being a Jedi in the first place.  And while there is a place of interest for prodigies such as Anakin, that was more acceptable because there were so many other Jedi around.  It served to separate him and was its own burden.

 

If it's just Luke and Rey, then it's just a shortcut past growth.  Which makes it a mistake.

 

 

 

As for the actual powers seen in TFA... Kylo was strong with the telekinesis, sure-- but I don't think any of it was really out of line. People seem to forget that Vader plucked the existence of Leia as a Skywalker out of Luke's head rather easily. And he mentioned Leia had a considerable resistance to the MIND PROBE. I always assumed that was him trying to read her thoughts.

 

That's not really telekinesis.

 

Anyway, the ability to mind probe wasn't the problem.  If that's how he got Poe to give up BB-8, then I can live with that.  But to get a map out of her head?  A map she only saw for a few seconds, that she had no idea what she was looking at, and that I seriously doubt she could remember even if she wanted to?

 

No, sorry.  That's a step beyond.

 

As for his telekinesis, I did have an issue with him stopping that blaster bolt.  That seemed silly.

 

 

 

I guess the big thing people are losing their **** over is the lightsaber calling to Rey.

 

I'm totally fine with this.  This is pretty common in mythology and the idea of an item holding onto the past is something that I didn't even blink at.

 

 

 

We didn't see telekinesis until ESB.

 

Tell that to Admiral Motti and his windpipe.


Edited by Poe Dameron, 23 December 2015 - 07:57 PM.


#8
DANA-kin Skywalker

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You know, I just noticed, Rey is learning ALOT from Kylo, so much it seems she is more powerful in his presence. Like they share some sort of force bond, possibly from being blood relatives...this looks and feels SO much like KOTORs Bastilla and Revan only in reverse.
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#9
Driver

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I know mind reading isn't telekinesis. Same paragraph, wasn't equating them-- just saying it wasn't abnormal.



#10
El Chalupacabra

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Rey is no more a Mary Sue than any other character in Star Wars.  I don't think she has done anything more or less spectacular than Anakin or Obi Wan in the PT, or Luke in the OT.  Seems an unfair statement to label her as a Mary Sue.

 

Did Rey progress too quickly?  Well, what is the title?  The Force Awakens.  To me that implies something about the force is changing.  Perhaps the very nature of the force itself is changing.  Perhaps how it is discovered by each force sensitive is relative and is now different. Perhaps the force is semi-sentient, and tapped Rey as its new harbinger.  Perhaps Rey progressed at a level all Skywalkers, or maybe all force users, have the potential of progressing at, if their mind is open (recall TESB Yoda essentially tells Luke that the reason he fails is he doesn't believe <in the force>).  We won't have a definitive answer one way or the other for probably for another 20 years, as we will likely see at least 5 more Star Wars films but likely more, as well as a plethora of books, games, CGI cartoons, and maybe even a live action show or two, will all be dedicated to answering that question.

 

As for Rey and Kylo Ren doing things with the force we've not seen before, well that isn't completely accurate.  We have seen Vader read minds before, just as Ren did.  We've seen pupils advance quickly like Rey,  just as Luke did.  Yes, Ren held a laser bolt in mid air, but is that really any more impressive than Yoda absorbing both Dooku's and Palpatine's force lightning, or Vader blocking Han's blasts in TESB?

 

With Kylo Ren in particular, we need to remember this guy is at least 30 years old, if not older (Adam Driver being 32).  He has been around the block, and since he helped tear down what Luke built, I think that implies he may have some Jedi training on top of whatever training from Snoke.  Now, maybe compared to Darth Vader, Kylo Ren is no match, but assuming he had an active role in tearing down Luke's Jedi group, he is likely far more powerful than the average Jedi.  Which also means so is Rey.  


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#11
Good God a Bear

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Driver has become the defender and gusher...repent, the end is near!


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#12
Driver

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I know it SEEMS like that...

 

But I had plenty of TFA problems. Rey just wasn't one of them...



#13
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The only real problem I have is the mind trick, because there's no apparent basis, as long as they explain her growth in Episode VIII. If they just ignore it, then it is a problem, because it's an unexplained change from what has been presented in 6 movies. I don't care if she's a woman, a man or a droid, an unexplained massive change is bad storytelling. And someone suddenly needing no training is a massive change.

But I expect it to be explained.

#14
Driver

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Well-- everyone knows what a Jedi mind trick is, right? I mean, Watto knew. She knows Luke as a myth. I'm sure she's heard about the Jedi mind trick. After Kylo opens her mind a little, she was trying it for herself. It's not like she knew how to do it. It didn't work until she calmed herself.

 

That's actually a thing I liked about TFA. It didn't just hand us stuff-- WE know the mind trick. WE know Jedi work best when calm. WE know what is going on.We don't need to see her trained to get it.

 

Meanwhile, things that NEED answers like how you move a planet into a new system...



#15
Poe Dameron

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Well-- everyone knows what a Jedi mind trick is, right? I mean, Watto knew. She knows Luke as a myth. I'm sure she's heard about the Jedi mind trick. After Kylo opens her mind a little, she was trying it for herself. It's not like she knew how to do it. It didn't work until she calmed herself.

 

But she didn't even wave her hand while doing it.  That's like above and beyond Jedi!


Edited by Poe Dameron, 23 December 2015 - 08:42 PM.


#16
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She might have. I don't think we could see her hand.

#17
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You couldn't see her hand.

#18
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Here's a good analogy ... let's say that you find out vampires are real. You don't need official training from a real life vampire hunter to fight them. Years of pop culture have given you the basic training you need.

Rey probably just remembered her Sat morning Hong Kong Jedi holo cartoons.
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#19
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Rey was incredibly knowledgeable about many things. I don't see why Jedi lore would be any different.

#20
DANA-kin Skywalker

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Well-- everyone knows what a Jedi mind trick is, right? I mean, Watto knew.

Recognizing the waltz is easier than dancing the waltz. Knowing the path versus walking the path. Pick your cliche here.

I don't know, i see your point, and yeah...we don't know for sure she didn't have early training...I just think the force is being sold too cheaply.

It's A fairly small thing to me anyways. I still think she's a great character and the movie is great.

#21
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Basically things that

Here's a good analogy ... let's say that you find out vampires are real. You don't need official training from a real life vampire hunter to fight them. Years of pop culture have given you the basic training you need.
Rey probably just remembered her Sat morning Hong Kong Jedi holo cartoons.

I'm trying to figure out the seriousness of this. Its funny as hell either way though.

#22
Pong Messiah

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Have only skimmed, so I hope it hasn't been said before. But calling Rey a Mary Sue is just a goofy attempt to rationalize your dislike for a character by using a a term that makes you sound respectable. When you throw around terms like that, instead of grunting "Ooga. Me no likey her!" you get to say "I'm sorry, but in my infinitely important and educated view, Rey is flawed because she is a Mary Sue."

 

Anyway, I dunno which author's wishes she is fulfilling, she is not perfect, and she didn't save the day (though Finn might disagree), and I don't care how douchey Max Landis' hair is, he's still wrong.


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#23
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It's just short hand to avoid having to spend 3 paragraphs describing your issue with that kind of character. Thank god for shorthand.

I'm serious because if one thing is true, sentient beings need, and will create, entertainment. And the Jedi would be one rich source of it for content creators to mine. Along with Palpy puppet shows of course.

#24
Driver

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Basically things that

Here's a good analogy ... let's say that you find out vampires are real. You don't need official training from a real life vampire hunter to fight them. Years of pop culture have given you the basic training you need.
Rey probably just remembered her Sat morning Hong Kong Jedi holo cartoons.

I'm trying to figure out the seriousness of this. Its funny as hell either way though.

Shadowdog is the undisputed king of overly intricate analogies and allegory. He's a ****ing Jedi master at it!

#25
Pong Messiah

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It's just short hand to avoid having to spend 3 paragraphs describing your issue with that kind of character. Thank god for shorthand. 

Absolutely, and I agree. But I do think this short hand has become so over-used as to become nearly meaningless -- basically, it' s become "Any unusually capable character I dislike."

 

btw, you mentioned Wesley Crusher, which is probably perfect (though tbh, I don't remember). Along those lines, worst current Gary Stu example I can think of is Kvothe (though he is sad and can't get the girl). I got the uneasy feeling that Rothfuss wrote the entire Felurian enconter in Wise Man' Fear with one hand IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.





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