Last night I had the privilege of going to the midnight showing of Star Wars The Force Awakens. I’ll be honest and say that when it was announced there would be new movies for Star Wars the thoughts that came to my mind were ‘okay’, ‘there are going to be a lot of happy fans, there are going to be a lot of pissed off fans’ (like seriously they can’t be happy the Chewbacca is alive again?).
I generally ignored most of the hype for the new film intentionally because I had outgrown Star Wars a long time ago when my taste in story telling started to become more sophisticated and basic battles between good and evil just didn’t cut it anymore. I didn’t care for The Clone Wars cartoon show and the expanded universe had become too large for me (and my wallet) to handle.
A year ago though I met my friend Karla and she and her husband are huge fans. I was pleased to discover her son shared my name, and the bond started from there that slowly got me back into the Star Wars franchise.It wasn’t easy getting back into it because I still saw flaws in some of the story telling and as I’ve said before Doctor Who is my primary fandom. As the trailers for The Force Awakens continued to be released I saw something that I had wanted to see for a long time from Star Wars, but never got.
A female protagonist. In the original trilogy we had Leia as the token girl and one of the three main heroes who was revealed to be a force sensitive and nothing more came from it outside of the expanded universe. For the prequel trilogy we had Padme, a badass politician with no force powers. We were eventually given Ahsoka Tano who although is cool is also still primarily an expanded universe character that fans of the movies would have nearly no idea existed.
Spoilers from this point forward, if you do not wish to be spoiled please do not read past this. I’m sorry, I know the internet promised not to give any spoilers concerning Star Wars The Force Awakens, I am actually not posting any huge spoilers, but this particular topic of feminism and Star Wars requires one spoiler. PLEASE DO NOT KILL ME!
A few months ago I finally saw the trailer and saw the character Rey, it looked like she was the new token girl with the main focus being on the character Finn who went from being a Storm Trooper to badass jedi hero and Poe a cool ace pilot.
As trailers continued though more focus was pushed on Rey, and a theory started bubbling in my head; ‘what if Finn isn’t the new Luke, but rather it’s Rey?’ As more trailers and materials were released I was becoming more and more convinced that Star Wars would make the official leap from ‘only boys can save the day and girls help out’ to ‘anyone can save the day.’
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, what you are thinking is indeed true. Rey is our true protagonist, don’t get me wrong Finn, Poe, BB8, and our original trilogy heroes are still important, but our new primary hero is a heroin.
She was compassionate, she had hurt in her life, she longed for more. She knows her technology (she LIVES in the wreckage of a spaceship!) And she is far more important than what anyone is lead to believe.
To further cement the shift of a primarily boy cast we have Leia going from a princess to a general, we also have Maz Kanata who is ‘the Yoda’ of this new trilogy. She’s a good one hundred years older than Yoda, has no force powers, but more than enough wisdom to piece together what is happening with the galaxy.
The movie wasn’t an overly blatant “woo feminism!” experience that I’m making it out to be, but everything was subtle where a normal person wouldn’t even notice it since most people don’t know about the the bechdel test (which the movie does pass).
There is a focus on families, forgiveness, and living beyond what you were led to be. I give Star Wars the Force Awakens ten out of ten lightsabers.