Is Max Landis right in calling Rey a Mary Sue? Warning: this post is filled with spoilers!!!

NO REALLY – I SAY A LOT ABOUT THE MOVIE IN THIS POST – DON’T READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN IT OR DO NOT MIND SPOILERS

You Have Been Warned

Recently a man named Max Landis Posted to Twitter and Youtube that he would have liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens more if Rey hadn’t been a Mary Sue. After much backlash about this, he posted another video in response explaining why he thinks she is a Mary Sue, and also making a note that nothing fans of the movie will say could change his opinion, and vise versa. Still, he was met with more negativity. I think it’s a little bit much for people to be saying things about his family like, “Your father killed children.” or comparing him to the guy that hiked up the price of AIDS medication. Come on people, he’s a man with an opinion, not some woman hating white supremacist! The man had an opinion and it’s valid in his eyes. I can even see his side in it, but I believe he’s flawed in his argument and comparisons. He explains that Ray was too good at everything she did. She could kick butt, she was strong in the force and able to use it too well. But was she any better at things than other characters in the Star Wars franchise? Was she really all that perfect?

Lets look on her ability with the Millennium Falcon real quick. She was familiar with the Falcon, had probably been on the Falcon a time or two to work on it, as well as probably scavanged from a star destroyer and whatever else ships that had found their way to the junkyard slum she inhabited. When your whole life revolves around electronics and spare parts, you get familiar with stuff like that. She actually wasn’t perfect with piloting the Falcon in the beginning, either. She was like a teenager learning how to drive a car the first time, running into the ground, flying horribly, but necessity is the mother of invention and they were running for their lives. She got good real quick. Now, she’d lived most of her life near the Falcon. Just like a kid that grows up in a car junkyard near a garage will learn a thing or two about car parts, she wasn’t unfamiliar with different ships. That she was able to bypass the whatchamajig was very believable. How about her mechanical aptitude in general. She’s been scavenging from a Star Destroyer for who knows how long and anything else that doesn’t move and metal. If she turns in junk, that means she doesn’t get to eat. Wouldn’t you learn what works and what doesn’t quick if it’s a matter of starving vs. being able to live one more day? I bet the girl lives and breaths electronics and ship parts. But she wasn’t perfect either, or do I need to remind someone that she let out the rathtars when she was trying to close a hatch?

How about being able to kick butt? I don’t know about you, but the slums she was in didn’t seem any better than the slums in modern times. Wanna know what happens to a girl that can’t defend herself in those situations? I bet you can guess. You either learn to fight or you die. Now, I admit, she was better with a lightsaber than you would expect a girl that fights with a staff, but she wasn’t amazing. For the most part of their duel, she was on the defensive, and she was fighting a wounded opponent. Same could be said about Finn, but that’s a different argument for another post.

But one of the bigest comparisons Landis used was Rey to Luke Skywalker. However, Luke was just as much of a Mary Sue as Rey. He was a great pilot, a crack shot, and was able to wield the force virtually untrained. You mean to say that you believe a farmboy from the remote planet of Tatooine who’d probably only driven a sandspeeder was able to fly an X-wing with no problem, but couldn’t believe that a scavanger on Jakku could suddenly fly the Falcon dispite being more familiar with the ship? What about Luke’s ability with the force? Remember that the only training he’d had was that brief moment in the Falcon with the remote droid and Obiwan, and yet he was able to use his force senses and reflexes to avoid being hit by Darth Vader in his Tie Fighter without even knowing he was doing it, then shoot down a narrow port to destroy the Deathstar. Later on Hoth in the cave in the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back he was able to force pull the saber into his hand, much like Rey did in her final battle with Ren. Virtually untrained, Luke managed to preform seriously difficult tasks in dire situations. Was he perfect, no. When he tried to lift his X-wing out of the swamps of Degoba, he failed, thinking it impossible. If he didn’t concentrate he couldn’t stand on one hand and stack a bunch of rocks into a tower with Yoda on his foot. But then again, some things don’t come as easily to every Jedi. In comparison, Rey gets force-held (is that the term I’m looking for?) by Ren, then he uses the force to make her pass out. Honestly I rolled my eyes at that part. Really? You make the girl pass-out and kidnap her so the guys can rescue her? Really? But right now it makes the point for me that she was not 100% the perfect badass woman. Even Leia got kidnapped (in each movie). In this instance Rey was not imediately able to fight off the powers of Kylo Ren, and we don’t expect her to. When she tries her hand at using Jedi Mind Tricks on the guard, he doesn’t initially do what she wants, nor does he the second time. We didn’t see her struggling with trying to force-pull the lightsaber but who said she hadn’t been after Finn dropped it? And the battle of Force-Will that happened in the interrogation room (the one that’s sparked a plethora of smutty Fanfiction between the two of them) wasn’t 100% either. He saw things in her memories even though she was resisting him. Yes, he failed in seeing the map, but he wasn’t fully barred from her mind. She turned the tables on him, but all she got was something that would be forefront on his mind, don’t you think? Feeling inadequate beneath the shadow of a great relative is something that would stick with you. That was the only thing she got from him. Although, I won’t discount the theory that she got some hint as to how to use the Force while in his head.

Nor in any of this was she one-dimentional. Yes, she’d spend most of her life waiting for her family to come back, and that was her driving motive for getting back to Jakku so that she would be there when she returned. However, she also showed a sense of honor when dealing with BB-8 and getting him back to the resistance first when she heard his calls for help when the jawa thing was trying to capture him, then when the scavenger offered her enough food for a month for BB-8 and finally when they were at Kanata’s palace and Finn was trying to run away. What about when faced with the visions from the lightsaber? She got scared and suddenly nothing else was important but that she get away from it.

Let me pose a question to you though. If the main character was helpless and weak the entirety of the movie/book, would you enjoy it? Likewise, if the main character was the best at everything would you still enjoy the story? A good wordsmith and director give their protagonist a balance of skill and ignorance. They are good at some things, but not all of it. They also make the acquisitions of those skills believable in the character’s background. After that, it really is just a matter of opinion whether or not they were successful.

My verdict? They were no more or less successful than their predicessors. I sure believed her skill with electronics in her young adult years than Anakin’s ability when he was 9. But that’s just it, my opinion, and I’m just as entitled to it as Landis is. He didn’t intend on coming off as sexist just because he didn’t like how Rey’s character was written. He was just stating an opinion, which he is within his rights to have. His critique won’t spoil Star Wars for young girls that see a role model in Rey, nor should it be taken as some anti-female jedi speech. If the main character had been a man, then his review would have been taken as just that. So, I guess I would just like to end this by saying it’s okay to not like the movie as much as some people. It’s okay to like the movie better than most as well. But going after a guy because you both disagree is not right and perhaps you should chill and go watch the movie again to show your support.

Keep it friendly guys, and I’ll see you on the flip-side!

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About Cici Brown
I'm a happily married mother of two and a half. I'm usually pretty bubbly and in some cases, according to my husband, too open about everything. I am and always will be a gamer geek, though I haven't table-top roleplayed for many years. I still manage to hit an MMO or two. My interests include most things geek and Vampire fiction, though not the sparkly kind, that's not vampire fiction. I have goals towards publishing that have yet to be fulfilled but one day...

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