Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2016 by Angie Han
The Force Awakens faced the massive challenge of introducing a whole new cast of characters to the Star Wars universe, and they somehow succeeded with flying colors. Charming Poe, friendly Finn, capable Rey, and adorable BB-8 all proved to be massive hits with fans of all ages. Well, most fans, anyway. A handful of moviegoers have dismissed Rey as a “Mary Sue” — a fandom term for an overly idealized female wish-fulfillment character.
Now Daisy Ridley herself has responded to the Mary Sue criticisms, explaining why her character doesn’t fit the bill and questioning the whole concept of a Mary Sue to begin with.
During an appearance on MTV News’ Happy Sad Confused podcast, Ridley addressed the Mary Sue accusations. “The Mary Sue thing I just didn’t get, because it wasn’t true,” she said.
The Mary Sue thing in itself is sexist because it’s a name of a woman, and everyone was saying that Luke had exactly the same thing. I think Rey is incredibly vulnerable, and nothing she’s doing is for the greater good. She’s just doing what she thinks is the right thing. And she doesn’t want to do some of it, but she feels compelled to do it. So for me, I was just confused.
Following the release of The Force Awakens, a few fans grumbled that she seemed to be just a little bit too good at everything: flying, shooting, wielding a lightsaber, using the Force. But as Ridley points out, you could make the same argument about Luke Skywalker… or, for that matter, lots of other characters from Batman to Neo to Harry Potter. While there is a male counterpart to the “Mary Sue” — the “Gary Stu” — we rarely see that label used against any of those heroes.
I don’t think it’s really up for debate that Rey seems to take to Star Wars-style adventuring really quickly for a sheltered young woman who’s spent almost her entire life alone on Jakku, but that’s a pretty common characteristic of the “Chosen One” trope, which Rey definitely seems to fall into. Plus, at the end of the day, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a protagonist who’s really talented and likable. It’s an artistic choice, and while it may not be one that all fans are on board with, that’s got more to do with subjective preference than objective quality.
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A character's "Mary/Gary Sue-ness" is a sliding scale that enables a tone/genre narrative choice. Not a quality impediment.
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) December 20, 2015