Let’s talk Star Wars.
I’m posting this because I have to open the faucet on these pent up thoughts bubbling up in my head. Twitter is an excellent place for initial thoughts, but most tweets are free from context and limited to 140 characters. Two problems that won’t follow us to Word Press.
Before I embark on this miniature mental exercise, I’d like to say a few things: First, these are my opinions. If you loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and I certainly wanted to), then nothing I say here will change your mind. What is about to happen here is a stark comparison between two characters. Nothing more. What I want is dialogue. I want you to read this and come back me to me with your thoughts. Let’s talk about it.
The most common argument I’ve seen in the defense of The Force Awakens on Twitter is thus: “If you didn’t like it you’re a [insert whatever morally reprehensible thing you hate the most here] and that’s that. It’s Star Wars, people!” No, sorry. Star Wars is not immune from your criticisms. Not yet.
So, let’s go! Spoilers abound here, people!
Most of you know Luke Skywalker’s tale, but we’ll go into further detail in a bit: Stuck on the Outer Rim planet Tatooine, dryer than your weird friend’s phone after the club, Luke eventually gets swept up by Ben Kenobi into a galactic conflict that sees his Force potential realized until he defeats the baddest dude in the galaxy: Darth Vader. All along the way, Luke gets his ass thoroughly whooped. Without Han Solo, Ben Kenobi, Leia Organa and Yoda, it’s no stretch of the imagination to see Luke face down in a ditch somewhere.
Rey, one of three primary protagonists of The Force Awakens has similar strides in story, until she doesn’t. We see right from the get go that this bad mamajamma doesn’t need any help. In fact, it seems almost made a point very early in the movie that “Rey does not NEED your help.” When Finn first reaches the settlement on Jakku, he sees Rey being accosted by several of Unkar Plutts hired hands and immediately dashes off to help her. Slow your roll, bud, because she doesn’t know it. She handles the thugs without breaking a sweat, and it’s all downhill for Rey here. It’s established early on that there are no stakes for Rey. Whatever terrible fate befalls her, she simply wills herself out of it.
Let’s get down to the exercise then. Here are the rules. Scenarios from the films Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be taken out for analysis, how the original protagonist responded, and how I believe the opposite protagonist would respond. Key word: Believe! Let’s start with the new movie, shall we?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Encounter with Unkar Plutt’s Guards
Location: Jakku SettlementAnalysis: Interestingly enough, this isn’t too dissimilar from something that happens to Luke Skywalker very early on in his own film. While in foreign territory in the Mos Eisley cantina, Luke is accosted by a humanoid and strange creature. Luke ignores them, trying to keep a cool profile, until he simply can’t. When the man and creature threaten them further. Luke seems all but helpless until Ben Kenobi slashes Rotten Attitude Man’s arm clean off.
Rey─staff in hand─didn’t need Finn’s help at all, taking two of Unkar Plutt’s guards down before Finn could even close in on the scene. With Luke tagged in here, it’s very likely this would have been a a two versus two, close quarters battle with Finn running in to even the odds. Overlooking the chemistry that could be built between a man who needs help and a man who wants to help, it’s evident that Luke would not have handled this so cleanly as Rey.
Piloting the Millenium Falcon
Location: Jakku, Jakku Low Orbit
Analysis: Luke never flew the Millennium Falcon. He did fly an X-Wing and an additional character, who we might argue is a better pilot than Luke will be added for further comparison: Poe Dameron, stated in the movie as one of the best pilots in the Resistance.
During Star Wars, Luke does pilot an X-Wing, but his previous history as a pilot is established during the briefing to attack the Death Star. Luke is apparently familiar with flying a T-16, as indicated by the dialogue, and has shot at womprats, which aren’t much bigger than 2 meters (the size of the exhaust port on the Death Star). INTERESTING NOTE: While this is considered extra-canonical, the T-16 was manufactured by Incom, who also manufactured the X-com, meaning we can assume they have similar controls. These beats are utilized to establish the character of Luke and the plausibility of him being a fighter pilot. In The Force Awakens, Rey just hops behind the controls and pilots the Falcon in a way that no one else ever could. No explanation is ever given.
Poe Dameron, proclaimed the best fighter in the galaxy, has a learning curve when trying to escape in a TIE Fighter. Not only that, he’s shot down. Even the best isn’t invulnerable─unless you’re Rey─and while its incredible to see Poe and Finn build this chemistry while they escape, it seems fitting a single TIE is shot down while escaping a Star Destroyer.
After Kylo Ren dispatches the woefully incompetent Finn (though he puts up a hell of a fight), he turns to collect Luke’s lightsaber with the Force. Instead, it’s Rey who pulls the blade to her, activates it, then the fight is on. Wait. What? How does Rey even know Jedi can do that. Weren’t they all myth and legend? I’m not asking how she can do that. She’s apparently Force sensitive. But how does she know that Jedi can move things with their mind? Let’s move on. (We’ll come back to it, I promise).
Luke on the other hand is trying to stop a floating robot from hitting him with microscopic laser beams via his lightsaber. And he can’t seem to get it until the very last second. Even after training with Yoda (which isn’t in the scope of the first film), Luke gets beaten and maimed by Darth Vader.
Luke, if placed on the Starkiller Base in Rey’s stead, would’ve never got the lightsaber. Hell, even when the lightsaber was being uncontested in the snow on Hoth he wasn’t much good. If another Force user were trying to get it from Luke’s grasp, he’s as dead as a womrat in front of a T-16! This is all overlooking the fact that neither Rey or Luke had any distinguishable lightsaber training up to that point, and Rey beats Kylo Ren pretty handily. Would Luke have done the same? Doubtful.
These are a few tidbits of comparison between Luke and Rey I find interesting. If you disagree, that’s fine. Let’s talk about it. Spill your ideas. Let’s disagree and let’s exchange dialogue. The more I think about it, the more I realize Luke was getting his ass whooped throughout the original trilogy and Rey was whooping everybody else’s ass.
That’s all for now.
Bonne journeés, mes amis.