I think the idea that Rey is a Mary Sue is a lazy, stupid criticism, I always have, and I still do. This post explains why.
After The Force Awakens, people asked, “Why was she such a great pilot right out of the gate?” Well, let’s look at the facts:
- She’s shown riding a speeder as part of her daily routine. So the basics of piloting are right there.
- One of the first things out of her mouth once the Millennium Falcon gets into space is, “I’ve flown before, but never off-planet.” Implying that she’s flown ships before, just not into space.
- The movie makes it pretty freaking obvious that she is not a great pilot right out of the gate, with easily the bumpiest lift-off ever committed to film. She and Finn survive what comes next, but clearly out of desperation, a little dumb luck, the resilience of the Falcon (which gets hit by the TIE fighters several times), and maybe a pinch of Force.
And of course there is the point that Luke is shown to be a kickass X-Wing pilot on his first time out, despite having only flown airspeeders before, and that only by verbal report (“my T-16 back home”). Rey gets more on-screen pilot-background-establishment than Luke did, and the sum of her accomplishments is to barely get away from two TIE fighters. Whereas Luke fought TIE fighters, navigated down a trench, and blew up the freaking Death Star on what we’re led to believe is his first time piloting anything in space. So if people aren’t equally up in arms about Luke in ANH, I’m calling shenanigans – specifically, an ugly double standard.
The criticism that Rey can do Force stuff so quickly and easily in The Force Awakens is even stupider. It’s kind of funny that Kylo Ren offers to teach Rey to use the Force at the turning point of their battle at the end of the movie, because he already had been. A lot of critics have asked why Rey is able to affect the stormtrooper’s mind, without ever having been trained. Because – duh – Kylo Ren had already shown her how, in their immediately previous scene together. I mean, you can watch her figure it out right there on screen. Kylo opened a portal between their minds, and Rey realizes that it goes both ways, allowing her to read his mind. Rey’s proficiency in the Force is in part a problem of Kylo’s own devising. Every thing that she does, she’s seen him do before. She’s not a miracle, she’s a quick study – which is exactly why Kylo and Snoke are so interested in her.
Then with The Last Jedi, people ask why Rey is such a good fighter. Uh duuuh – she’s been fighting with a staff for years, and a lot of that previous fight training ports over to using a lightsaber. I mean, we should be able to figure this out on our own, given that we see her fighting very effectively with a staff in TFA, but the movie goes ahead and makes it explicit in her solo practice session, where she swaps her staff for Anakin’s old lightsaber. TLJ was also not her first time using telekinesis or telepathy or calming her mind and letting the Force guide her actions – all of those things happened on screen in TFA.
Finally, people complain that Rey is a Mary Sue because she can’t fail. I can’t figure out which movies these people have been watching. In TFA alone, she gets the Falcon shot up trying to get off Jakku, gets the ship captured by the big freighter, gets found by Han and Chewie when she was trying to hide, gets the big freighter overrun by Rathtars by opening the wrong doors, doesn’t want to listen to Maz about the lightsaber or the Force on Takodana, runs away from her destiny and gets captured by Kylo Ren. In TLJ, Rey voluntarily goes to Snoke’s flagship to try and turn Kylo, which fails; the whole Force contact thing with Kylo turns out to have been a trap laid by Snoke, which worked; and Snoke is able to get Luke’s location and disposition from Rey’s mind, and would have killed both Rey and Luke (either directly, or through subordinates) had Kylo not decided to kill Snoke instead. Throughout both movies, Rey comes off not as omniscient or omnicompetent, but curious, idealistic, a little desperate, and doing her best to do the right thing in a series of challenges that she was not prepared for — sorta like Luke in the original trilogy.
So in conclusion, can we please let this dumb, lazy, sexist idea die?