Star Wars: The Difference in Luke and Rey as Chosen Ones

Rey and Luke are both heroes, but the reasons they are chosen for greatness could not be more different.

As we draw ever closer to the release of Star Wars: Episode IX, there have been numerous online articles trying to guess how Disney’s Sequel Trilogy is going to end. Not only do fans want to know how the story of Rey and Kylo Ren’s struggle will come to a close, but also how Disney will wrap up the entire Star Wars story with the movie being marketed as the “end of the Skywalker Saga.” After all, with a name like The Rise of Skywalker, their intent seems pretty obvious. With this kind of pressure from multiple directions, director J J Abrams has quite the task in front of him, not least due to the divisive reception of the previous film directed by Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi. Johnson’s film essentially split the Star Wars fandom down the middle, with fans either hailing it as a fresh and subversive entry to help grow the franchise or condemning it as a betrayal of the themes and characters that endeared Star Wars to moviegoers in the first place. Only time will tell whether this challenge to provide a satisfying ending will be met, or is even possible.

Since the release of the first trailer for Rise of Skywalker in April, many and more speculative online articles have been written to explore the fans’ pressing questions, ranging from optimistic (“Will ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Rewrite ‘The Last Jedi?'”) or skeptical (“Is The Rise of Skywalker Really a Retcon of The Last Jedi?”) to more pessimistic (“With The Rise of Skywalker, Is Disney Backtracking on The Last Jedi?”). Both authors and commenters refer back to elements of The Last Jedi and how they might be resolved, addressed, or even retconned in The Rise of Skywalker. One of the most referenced elements cites the relationship between the Force and Rey, specifically how the universe seemingly chose a “nobody” (if Kylo Ren’s revelation in The Last Jedi is to be believed) to embody the Light side of the Force and combat the Dark. They further point to the unnamed slave child character in the final scene of The Last Jedi that the internet named “Broom Boy,” another nobody from nowhere whose brief actions imply that the Force is still granting individuals across the galaxy with powers. Some of these articles point to the original presentation of Luke Skywalker back in 1977 as proof to support their theories. But in trying to legitimize the theme of the new trilogy by referencing what they perceive as similarities from George Lucas’ movies, these arguments completely miss the meaning of Luke Skywalker’s relationship to the Force and the importance of legacy to the Star Wars story.

You must unlearn what you have learned

In The Force Awakens, Rey is continually reluctant to commit to the adventure unfolding before her because she is afraid that her parents, who abandoned her as a young girl on the planet Jakku, will finally come to retrieve her while she is away with Han Solo and the Resistance. All Rey wants is to be part of a family, and this emphasis on her parents’ identity indicates it will be a major plot point. Throughout the story, Abrams sprinkles hints and signs that seem to suggest Rey might be related to someone special or important, which fans overwhelmingly interpreted as referring to some character from a previous Star Wars film. Even the original trailer hints at this by quoting Return of the Jedi during the scene on Endor’s moon when Luke reveals to Leia that he is her brother: “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And my sister has it.” The trailer adds “You have that power, too,” all but guaranteeing that one of the new main characters will have a connection to the Force as a descendant of the Skywalker family. Kylo Ren (who actually is this descendant) is presumably already aware of this, so the implication in this context is that Luke is speaking to Rey. This led to almost two years of internet speculation about whether Rey was secretly the daughter of Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and Leia, or even Emperor Palpatine. Each theory seemed more convincing (or outlandish) than the last. The idea that Rey might not be related to anyone was certainly considered, but it wasn’t until the release of The Last Jedi that this periphery theory was confirmed by director Rian Johnson.

In seeming contrast to the previous six Lucas films, Johnson argues that it’s not necessary to be part of a long lineage of Jedi or Sith in order to be strong in the Force. The Force can choose anyone for a great destiny, even if their last name isn’t Skywalker. The mystery of Rey’s past is resolved by cementing her as a “nobody from nowhere” who was chosen and gifted by the Force to embody the Light side and combat the overwhelming Dark power of Kylo Ren and his master Supreme Leader Snoke. The point is further driven home by Broom Boy, who we meet briefly in the Canto Bight casino at the end of the movie as he uses the Force to float a broom to him while he looks up at the stars, presumably dreaming of adventure with Finn and Rose, the members of the Resistance he met and helped earlier.

The unnamed Force-sensitive child dubbed “Broom Boy” by fans.

This idea of a “democratization of the Force” is not a necessarily bad theme for a Star Wars movie for several reasons. It fits well with the ideology of Disney, a company built on the idea that “when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, your dreams come true.” It also might help open up to audiences old and new the wider Star Wars universe by encouraging them to consume stories outside the films of the Skywalker Saga, a tradition started with the now-decanonized Expanded Universe body of work. This theme touches on elements present in the Prequel films, where the Jedi Order of the Old Republic routinely chose random “Force-sensitive” children and infants from all over the galaxy to train. Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker himself is presented as being immaculately conceived by the Force, as his mother Shmi tells Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn that Anakin had no father. Perhaps this would have been a great theme for a separate set of films that took place in a completely different time period from George Lucas’ story. As the ending chapters of the Skywalker Saga, however, this could not be more thematically inappropriate. The original story of Luke and his trilogy is deeply based in the importance of bloodlines and lineages forming one’s destiny, a storytelling tradition itself grounded in mythological story structure. Citing Luke to support the “anyone can be important” narrative of Rey’s story misses the point of Luke’s story entirely.

I am a Jedi, like my father before me

But first, an important distinction before moving forward. All references here to Luke Skywalker, refer exclusively to the character as he was presented in and around the original Star Wars movie and in the three films of the Original Trilogy. This is not to deny the existence of all that has been written since then that characterizes Luke and the Force differently, even from Lucas himself; the Original Trilogy presentation of the Force is much more mystical than that of the Prequels with its midichlorians and more science-based explanation. Most, if not all, of the above-mentioned articles cite the presentation of Luke in A New Hope as their proof, so that is what must be addressed and argued against here.

Much of the reason the original Star Wars has continued to be so enduring stems from the way it fits so neatly into the “Hero’s Journey” story structure, made famous by noted mythologist Joseph Campbell and his idea of the “Monomyth.” Not surprisingly, Luke’s hero story borrows heavily from those of other mythic heroes from around the world and the circumstances that make them heroic. Important for our discussion is the distinction that mythic heroes often have divine or royal fathers who they are not aware of until reaching a certain age, and are usually helped by magical teachers to hone the superhuman abilities they possess as a result of their supernatural parentage. They might receive a magical weapon from their parents to help them defeat their foes, or receive a quest to rescue a princess and save a kingdom from a monstrous ruler and his evil army, rescuing the symbolic order of their parents’ rule from the chaos of the evil forces.

These story elements certainly characterize Luke, and the comparisons have been more thoroughly examined elsewhere. My purpose in identifying them here is to point out one important detail: in the overwhelming majority of these cases, the mythic hero is not a “Nobody from nowhere,” but a Somebody. He is a prince or a demigod– he’s special because of his supernatural or royal lineage. In an excellent lecture examining the characteristics of mythic heroes, Dr. Janice Siegel explains this is “because the mythic hero must be able to cross the boundaries that separate our world from that of the gods, to make accessible to mortals that wondrous but forbidden world,” and that the hero’s divine parentage acts as a kind of passport to this other world. This isn’t to say that there aren’t examples of people who came from nowhere or from humble beginnings but became heroes– history is full of such great people. But these figures tend to appear more in the realm of history than in mythological stories like the ones Star Wars draws from. Even then, many historical figures who rise to power tend to couch their own journey in mythological trappings, such as Julius Caesar claiming Aphrodite was his mother.

“You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” Luke receiving his father’s lightsaber (and legacy) from Obi-Wan.

In this context, Luke’s story takes on these elements almost to the letter. We know Luke is called to his quest by both Princess Leia’s message and Obi-wan Kenobi’s urging to “learn the ways of the Force.” He receives a divine weapon from his mentor that belonged to his father and “takes his first steps into a larger world.” None of this proves he’s not a Nobody, of course: Rey gets a lightsaber from a mentor and answers her own call from Han Solo and BB-8. The key lies in the dialogue during the scene from A New Hope in Ben’s home when he tells Luke about the Jedi. Ben tells Luke he was “once a Jedi Knight the same as your father.” Ben also explains that the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice for the Republic for a thousand generations, painting them as larger-than-life figures.

These descriptions, combined with the superhuman feats Luke sees Ben perform against the Empire’s stormtroopers, present the Jedi as semi-divine themselves. We learn later in the Prequels, of course, that the Jedi are human (or alien) and fallible like every other galactic resident. Their first appearance in 1977, however, presents them as superhuman and supernatural beings, separate from and superior to ordinary people. In mythological terms, the Jedi are the gods, and Luke’s father is one of them. Like Zeus claiming one of his children in a Greek myth or young King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and discovering his father was a king, Luke discovers his “divine” parentage and receives his father’s godly weapon. With this weapon Luke also receives the implied quest to seek revenge on his father’s killer, a former Jedi named Darth Vader. Even years before we discover that Darth Vader, himself one of these divine figures with supernatural powers, is actually Luke’s father, we are told Luke is part of a heritage and lineage through his father. Ben essentially reveals to Luke that he has a destiny, not because he has been chosen randomly by the Force, but as a result of who his father was and consequently who Luke is in relation to his father. It is a theme embodied in the most iconic line in the entire saga: “No, I am your father.” In short, Luke is special for the same reason that Hercules, Arthur, Perseus, Rama, and every other mythic hero is: because each one is already a Somebody when they start their journey.

This is not going to go the way you think

Contrast this to what we are told about Rey. For all the complaints from various corners of the internet that Rey is unbelievably powerful in the Force with little to no instruction or training, we later learn the reason. This rationale is actually not given in the films but through the official novelization, so many moviegoers may not even be aware that any explanation exists for Rey’s sudden mastery of the Force. After Luke’s nephew and pupil Ben Solo is seduced to the Dark Side by Snoke and murders most of Luke’s other students, Luke voluntarily cuts himself off from the Force in shame and leaves the Light/Dark balance uneven in the Dark’s favor. In order to combat this, the Force itself chooses to grant Rey extreme powers of Force mastery to embody the Light side and help restore balance. Soon after the beginning of Rey’s adventure, she is captured by Kylo Ren and interrogated by him, in which he reaches into her mind and attempts to pull out what he wants by force. While they are connected, however, Rey turns the tables on Ren and “downloads” his training in and knowledge of the Force (through the apparent intervention of the Light Side of the Force itself) and is later able to escape and continue the fight against the Dark with this newly-acquired knowledge. In that moment Rey becomes the avatar of the Light Side seemingly at random, as a Nobody from nowhere.

“You have no place in this story. You’re no one. But not to me.” Kylo Ren confronts Rey after their battle with Snoke and his guards.

Given the audience’s familiarity with Luke and even Anakin Skywalker in the previous six movies, it should then be no surprise that the fan theories about Rey’s parents began to fill nearly every Star Wars forum between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. This also can account for the confusion and anger felt by many at the explanation given near the end of The Last Jedi by Kylo Ren: that Rey’s parents were inconsequential spacers and callously left her on Jakku in exchange for drinking money. If it turns out Ren is right and Rey’s parents truly were nobodies, then the Force choosing Rey really is canonical proof that anyone can be special without having to be related to someone else.

Both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi attempt to push back against the idea that lineage is what makes one special in several ways. The character of Kylo Ren is a prime example of this. Besides the obvious moral condemnation of making him the villain, he is presented as whiny and prone to tantrums and fits of rage. He is obsessed with living off the glory of his grandfather’s legacy without striving to make his own way; his master Snoke even reprimands him by telling him to “take that ridiculous thing off” referring to Ren’s mask modeled after Vader’s own. Trying to make one’s way, the movie tells us, is superior to relying on the legacy of the past.

The theme is also present in the same scene as the revelation about Rey’s parents. After revealing that Rey “has no place in this story” because of her lack of important parentage, Ren offers to take Rey on as an apprentice and give her the family she has always wanted, along with the prestige of becoming part of the ancient and storied tradition of Force-users he is part of. “You’re no one,” he tells her. “But not to me.” Rey, however, rejects his offer. As if to cement this new ideology for the viewer, Ren and Rey then both attempt to claim the Skywalker lightsaber, used first by Anakin Skywalker, then by Luke, and finally passed to Rey. Kylo feels the lightsaber belongs to him, the grandson of its original wielder and therefore the heir to the destiny it represents. Rey sees the lightsaber as her connection to the Force and the family she’s always wanted, but not as the key to a special destiny. Their struggle causes the lightsaber to actually pull apart in a tremendous explosion, leaving them each with a worthless half of the mighty weapon. Symbolically, the idea of legacies determining one’s worth is over. Rey must presumably build her own lightsaber before her next confrontation instead of relying on a relic from the past, and Kylo falls deeper into failure as he is continually disappointed in his attempts to become his grandfather and take on that legacy. The lightsaber is the idea of mythic heroism made form, and now it is broken.

No one’s ever really gone

Star Wars has been embraced by popular culture because of its emphasis on legacy. Will it remain this way if that model changes?

No story, whether a long series of books, a decade-spanning TV show, or a franchise of blockbuster films, can remain thematically stagnant and expect to stay relevant. The Star Wars movies are no exception, and it would seem that the powers-that-be at Disney-Lucasfilm have decided to pursue different storytelling avenues going forward than those of the traditional mythic hero. And again, there’s nothing wrong with the “Anyone can be special anywhere” message being the theme of a Star Wars movie. But trying to justify this thematic choice by saying that it’s how George Lucas always wanted the Force to be seen from the beginning of his vision is simply not true, especially when you consider how Luke and the rationale for his destiny with the Force was presented. Luke is chosen because of his family name and the destiny that accompanies it; Rey is chosen for reasons only fathomable to the Force (as far as we know). Luke’s story is closer to that of a mythic hero; Rey’s story can still be heroic, but with a very different (perhaps even polar opposite) groundwork than Luke’s.

The Sequel Trilogy’s rationale isn’t a worse reason, just a different one. But if the entire backbone of the Skywalker Saga has hinged on the idea that destiny is passed down through families and the mythological idea that being a Somebody matters, then trying to shove in a theme that completely contradicts this in the last third of the overarching Skywalker story is thematically inconsistent. If the Sequel Trilogy wants to have this as its theme, don’t brand it as “the end of the Skywalker Saga” and act confused when people say it feels like it doesn’t belong with what they know and love. To many, it doesn’t feel that Rey is succeeding in challenging the ideas about the importance of legacy and destiny by doing well in spite of the established order, but by spitting in its face and stomping on its remains. It’s not a smooth transition, despite all Disney’s praise about how successful it has been “passing on the torch” to the next generation of heroes, and the fans have felt it.

But perhaps Episode IX will be an immensely satisfying ending for both its trilogy and the Saga as a whole. The title “The Rise of Skywalker” certainly implies that this will wrap up the Skywalker saga, and choosing to include the Emperor at the end of this story will almost definitely impact the information we were given in The Last Jedi, whether to confirm or contradict. Maybe this entire point made here will become moot. Based on what we’ve been given already, though, that appears unlikely. In regard to the legacy of Lucas’ story, or the importance of legacy at all, it seems Disney’s attitude is not “No one is ever really gone” but rather “Let the past die; kill it if you have to.”

And that’s a shame.

Luke and Rey

Works Cited

Cohen, Jason. “With The Rise of Skywalker, Is Disney Backtracking on The Last Jedi?” CBR. 15 April, 2019. https://www.cbr.com/star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-backtracking-last-jedi/2/. Accessed 04 June 2019.

Crashcourse. “The Hero’s Journey and the Monomyth: Crash Course World Mythology #25.” YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XevCvCLdKCU.

Erao, Matthew. “The Last Jedi Novelization Explains How Rey Learned the Jedi Mind Trick.” Screenrant. 13 March, 2018. https://screenrant.com/star-wars-rey-jedi-mind-trick. Accessed 15 May 2019.

Hutchinson, Luke. “Theory: How Star Wars 9 Can Make Rey A Skywalker (Without A Last Jedi Retcon).” Screenrant. 24 Feb, 2019. https://screenrant.com/star-wars-9-theory-rey-skywalker. Accessed 14 May 2019.

Morales, Carlos. “Star Wars: Is The Rise of Skywalker Really a Retcon of The Last Jedi?” IGN. 18 April 2019. https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/04/14/star-wars-is-the-rise-of-skywalker-really-a-retcon-of-the-last-jedi. Accessed 02 June 2019.

Pirrello, Phil. “Will ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Rewrite ‘The Last Jedi?'” The Hollywood Reporter. April 15, 2019. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/star-wars-will-rise-skywalker-rewrite-last-jedi-1202102. Accessed 02 June 2019.

Siegel, Janice. “The Mythic Hero.” Dr. J’s Illustrated Lectures. 1997 http://people.hsc.edu/drjclassics/lectures/MythicHero/mythichero.shtm.

Star Wars. Directed by George Lucas. Lucasfilm, Ltd. 1977.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Directed by Richard Marquand. Lucasfilm, Ltd., 1983.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Directed by J. J. Abrams. Lucasfilm, Ltd., 2015.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Directed by Rian Johnson. Lucasfilm, Ltd., 2017.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
George is a Vanderbilt Divinity School gradate with an MA in Religious Studies focusing on mythological studies. His interests include mythology, video games, and Star Wars

Want to write about Film or other art forms?

Create writer account

60 Comments

  1. A very interesting article. When you put it like this, I wonder if these two characters represent two approaches to myth-making. In many ancient myths, for example, the hero is noteworthy because of who his family is and what lineage he comes from (which often included gods and the like). By contrast, in more modern myths (starting with the Jewish Bible), the hero is often a seemingly ordinary person who becomes important because the Powers that Be took an interest in him on his own merits. I’m wondering if that’s what’s going on here, that Luke represents the older kind of hero, and Rey the newer kind of hero.

  2. I like the character of Rey, and I also liked the reason behind why she was so powerful. The main reason I like both of those is that it is something that hasn’t been done before, and it also shows how cocky Kylo is. Kylo didn’t shield himself off from Rey and Rey was able to capitalize on it. The other reason I liked it is because it is essentially a power fantasy, and that’s actually something that I personally enjoy. I also don’t think that it was a bad idea to put that knowledge in the book, because of 1.) How else would they have included it in the movie without making it feel like it was just info dumping? 2.) Because it sells the books, and it encourages people to go out and read the books which is something that I feel more people should do. That doesn’t mean that I think that they should keep all the important stuff out of the movies, but having it so that if you don’t follow the rest of the canon that you will be missing out.

    I also feel like Rey will be a much better character going forward especially with the new EU. I believe that the future of Star Wars will be in what kept it going long after the original six movies stopped; the EU. I firmly believe that authors will find ways of making her a much better and more well-rounded character. I mean they’ve already started doing that with Before the Awakening. I guess I just don’t get why people are so quick to hate on Rey and only bring up the movies and not any of the other sources or even acknowledge that they exist in the first place. All I keep hearing is “I shouldn’t have to read a book to understand a movie”, when clearly for Star Wars you do. People keep saying that Star Wars was stand-alone when it really wasn’t.

  3. Luke has had to work for everything. For every two steps he takes forward, he makes a massive step back. That’s why he is so beloved, because he wins because he has to overcome.

    Rey is basically a Millennial and she’s been created at appeal to that crowd. Not the Millennial who have to work multiple part time jobs and do schooling all at the same time. But the Millennial who expects everything handed to them on a silver platter and don’t believe there are consequences to their actions.

    That’s why Luke is more inspirational then Rey. Luke earned our respect by working hard for it. Not Rey though who has been given everything.

    • Bernadine
      0

      Well Rey did have to survive on her own at Jakku. And she sees one potential father figure murdered and is turned down by the other, so again she goes ahead on her own. Then she learns (or is lied to) that her parents abandoned her and she has to come to terms with that too. So she does have arc of emotional challenges and developments, but her Force-related arc is weak.

      • And on Jakku, she lives in a destroyed AT AT walker while scavenging for junk she can trade for food. Yet, somehow, she’s an expert pilot on a level of Han Solo (or better), a top notch engineer who can not only figure out how to make the Millenium Falcon work, but who knows how to repair its problems, then she’s at Jedi Master level with the force, despite the fact that she never had a moment of training. Anakin had the highest level of midichlorians in all of Star Wars history and yet, even he had to spend a lifetime as Obi Wan’s apprentice before turning to the dark side. Rey’s character is terrible.

  4. How would you write Rey as a more intriguing character?

    • CulturallyOpinionated

      Personally, I think the best direction they could have taken Rey’s character would to have had her fall to the Dark Side in Last Jedi when Kylo offered her his hand during the throne room sequence. The movies present Rey as someone who wants to belong to a family more than anything in the entire universe; it’s what drives her to battle the First Order, join the Resistance, even leave Jakku with Han and Finn even though she thinks she might miss her parents coming back for her. But what if she wanted it so much that it blinded her to the difference between good and evil, and Kylo Ren offering her a chance to finally belong to something bigger than herself was too much for her to resist? This would have gone a long way toward redeeming Last Jedi for me as a Star Wars fan: it would have given Rey a more complicated character with empathetic motivations (even for turning to evil); it would have allowed the secondary characters to have a bigger role in trying to fight/redeem Rey rather than largely functioning as Rey’s cheer squad; it would have introduced more complexity to Kylo in his trying to share power with someone he might come to love; and most importantly it would have introduced an element of uncertainty to the trilogy’s ending that currently is missing. Good have been constantly triumphing in this trilogy, so why should anyone feel any suspense for the Rise of Skywalker if we know Rey will defeat Kylo (for a third time) and whatever superweapon the First Order comes up with will be destroyed? Having Rey be successfully seduced by the Dark Side, even temporarily, would be a true subversion of expectation, and a nuanced and worthwhile addition to what is currently a pretty bland and uninspiring character.

      • Honestly I would like her to struggle like Luke did. He contemplates turning to the Dark side in Return of The Jedi he wears black and has supreme confidence in himself. I would like her and Kylo to both struggle to find themselves. Rey trains alone on the island and Kylo searches for Vader relics and tries to reunite and train with the last living of the Knights of Ren. Luke’s lost wife or adult children show up to help train Rey. Kylo and Rey face off in the end and Rey tried to bring him back to the light. Snoke shows back up and Kylo saves Rey and dies in the process. The end lol

    • I was thinking of a more Dark Knight Rises approach on Episode 9 where you take the hero that everybody relied on and break them to the point where they lose all their power and ability to do anything for their friends.

      I seriously think that the most effective way to absolutely RID of the Mary Sue complaint is to literally break Rey’s body just like Bane broke the Bat. And then, this will force Rey to re-train, recover, and relearn everything she “downloaded” so that she finally feels like she EARNED her abilities.

      Of course, I have to be realistic here. Would Disney allow having a woman be bloodied and broken? Would Kathleen Kennedy let this happen?

      If they literally broke Rey’s body, my God, I’ve had the utmost respect for Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, and Disney and take back every criticism I had against them.

      • Isa Crook
        0

        There’s really a LOT that would need to be done…

        1) Don’t destroy Luke’s character to build Rey up. The mystery in “the Force Awakens” is fine, but by “the Last Jedi” we learn that Luke Skywalker is an abject coward and failure and that he was there to die and let the bad guys win, which was something to make Rey’s character seem more heroic by essentially assassinating Luke’s character. That’s NOT how you build characters up.

        In this, much of what was done to make Rey come off as better was to tear Luke down, which was only going to antagonize older fans who grew up with Luke. It’s not that Rey surpasses Luke… it’s that Luke is revealed that he was NEVER the hero that he was portrayed as in the Original Trilogy… which makes little logical sense.

        Could Luke make a mistake that could backfire on him? Sure. But should he run away to die and only change his mind when some girl he doesn’t know flat-out owns him in a fight, that he should have been able to out-class her in? No.

        2) Don’t have this sort of copy and paste ability in Rey’s powers and use of them. Her being a counter to Kylo is fine. After all, Anakin was a counter to the Sith of his era, but it should be remembered that while Anakin did exhibit a lot of powers and abilities without training… such as being the ONLY human who could race pods and could identify images without formal training, that didn’t cross over into mastery of the Force as a whole and in lightsaber combat, as seen in his fight with Dooku in “Attack of the Clones.”

        In this Rey’s ability to display high level Force powers and lightsaber skills without training has no explanation that makes sense. Sure her power could be a counter to Kylo, but that shouldn’t cross over directly into her having the abilities she does… for as has been seen with Anakin in the prequels, even he needed training to get to where he was by “Attack of the Clones” and even at that point wasn’t as good as he could have been… and needed more training before “Revenge of the Sith” and he wouldn’t even complete what he was “created” to do until the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

        In this Rey’s powers AND ability to use them because “countering” Kylo isn’t believable. She could have the power… but we need to actually see her learn things rather than just see her automatically be able to do things that it took both Anakin and Luke years to learn.

        3) Don’t make her villains come off as either idiots or copy cats. Much of what we see of Kylo Ren is that he’s trying to copy Darth Vader and he comes off as a temperamental copy cat. It has its funny moments, but it doesn’t really help Rey if the character she’s having to overcome is a joke. And Snoke and the First Order are much the same way. They supposedly have all this power and yet… their only course of action is to give their opponents a fighting chance because… plot reasons…

        I can understand that the bad guys aren’t to win in the long run… but you really don’t come to support a hero when the villain he or she faces is pretty much a joke.

        • Definitely something like this. She needs to be put through the wringer, brought to the brink. She might have the raw power but now she needs to act under pressure and figure out what to do instead of having the answer fall in her lap.

      • I do like where you’re going with that idea. If they did something along these lines, truly breaking Rey physically and then of course emotionally, I’d have new found respect for Disney/Lucasfilm and I think people would appreciate the effort (at the very least) of trying to save Rey from the Merry Sue title.

    • Flo Christiansen
      0

      I would like her more if she turns evil or dies

  5. To me the only interesting character left is Kylo. The rest I couldn’t care less about really. I hope the first two movies were Rey’s dream, and the first scene in Ep. 9 is her literally waking up in Jakku.

  6. In the next trilogy Rey will be on a deserted island and will lose faith in everything. Sound exciting?

  7. Can’t forgive Ryan for the scene where Rey beats Luke.

    • Eda Maness
      0

      I thought it was pretty obvious he could have hurt her anytime he wanted to. But that’s just Luke, he didn’t want to hurt her. He just wanted her to leave. Notice how he smacked her with his staff almost as soon as the fight started. Then he holds her off easily and disarms her. It was only by grabbing the lightsaber and startling Luke that she won.

      • Bernita
        0

        So when Luke hit her in back and literally grabs her staff and throws it away you dozed off, but only payed attention when she whipped out a lightsaber on him?

        I know the ST has problems but Star Wars discussions are deplorable these days…I can’t see a discussion without someone resorting to hyperbole, lying or using their own musings as a substitute for evidence. And the fact that this has been socially acceptable since TFA is beyond baffling and only elicits dismay in me.

    • It’s about as believable as Luke having beat Yoda (for some reason) in Empire…

      • Winnifred
        0

        Yes! Even its clear hewas not interest in winning, it was another victory to Rey ‘s collection, and another humiliating situation to Luke.

    • What are you talking about? In no way did Rey beat Luke.

    • For me it’s not that there would never be a reason she couldn’t beat Luke, but that there was no good reason given for why she could at that moment.

  8. coolwoman
    0

    Luke is a far better character. He earned his place in the saga. Starting of as a flawed, whiny, brat, turning into a fan favorite hero. Rey is perfect, with no flaws, or arc whatsoever.

  9. Sean Gadus

    While I had mixed feelings about The Last Jedi, I really enjoyed the interplay between Kylo Ren and Rey in the film. Personally, I thought the film would have been better if it focused more on Luke, Rey, and Kylo who formed the emotional core of the film for me.

    I also hope that the concept of Rey being a “nobody from nowhere” sticks through Episode 9. I felt this differentiates Rey from Luke, as well as separating the original trilogy from the sequel trilogy. Interesting article!

  10. Interesting note on the novel’s explanation of Rey’s powers. I’ve always felt that the novelization of a film (and this goes for the SW prequels too) was always a means of fixing its mistakes and making up for poor, or at the very least ignorant/lazy, storytelling. This kind of confirms it.

    Fascinating article nonetheless – sounds like I definitely need to read some Campbell. His work has been on the list for a long time, but alas, so many works of literature (alongside film, videogames, audio craft etc.) to explore…

  11. Rey can also understand Wookie, which otherwise only Han Solo can. Presumably there are some present on Jakku.

    • CulturallyOpinionated

      I didn’t even think about that, that’s a good point. I don’t think even Luke ever picked up Shyriiwook (Wookie language) in all the time he spent around Chewbacca.

  12. One of my main issues was that luke is quite literally getting saved all the time by his friends for example obi wan saves him from the tusken raiders then again in the cantina from the two thugs then he’s saved by R2D2 and C3PO in the trash compactor Obi Wan saves all of them by turning of the tractor beam and staying back to duel Vader to buy them time effectively sacrificing himself and finally right at the end by Han and Chewie who came back with the millennium falcon.

    Rey on the other hand is the ultimate hero time and time again her only screw up in the hole movie was when she accidentally released the Rathtar which ended up working out in her favor effectively saveing Han Solo and Chewbacca.

  13. Luke, a character that even though he is a part of royal and force powerful bloodline still had to work for everything and nothing came easy for him. Rey, a scavenger who apparently comes from no special bloodline, is one of the most powerful force users in the galaxy without any real training and is a skilled pilot and basically good at everything she does because… reasons

    • Yeah its weird people say rey having no special lineage makes rey a cool character but they forget that the reason we loved luke wasnt because he was a skywalker it was because he was an interesting character who had to train and learn to get better wheres rey didnt need that.

    • She’s a strong female character that don’t need no man.

  14. For me no new character has been likable enough. Finn has the most interesting journey, but it’s poorly written and his character is too goofy.

  15. In many ways… Rey is a character that I think was essentially set up to be declared the next icon and was left at that. Some may wish to argue that that was the politics that has been interjected in to Star Wars, but even without some of the political issues, the problems in her character are still there. And in this, it’s the ham-fisting of the message that Rey is the greatest without ever giving a real reason WHY that has essentially caused so many problems.

    • Well said. I could (probably) accept the things Rey is able to do… if a good explanation was given.

  16. Metzger
    1

    The laziest thing Disney did was to start the story where it had ended perfectly and kick up a storm that they were not ready to face.

    • CulturallyOpinionated

      I could not agree more. They should have left the Lucas material alone and focused on making their own quality story instead of relying solely on brand loyalty from fans and the public.

  17. Rey is more like Anakin then Luke.

  18. Amyus

    Nicely done. Clearly a subject you are very passionate about and it shows in your writing. I have to admit that as a fan of the original trilogy (Eps IV,V and VI) I was sorely disappointed with the Abrams re-boot. In my opinion he has no idea how to develop a character or tell a good story. I think it’s about time he learned from the Masters by actually studying Jung and Campbell rather than just including a few passing references. Anyway, that aside, it’s good to see that you’ve generated some deep discussion among fans. Well done.

  19. Rey is the embodiment of the participation trophy. You show up, you always ‘win’.

  20. Lacroix
    0

    Thank you for a good analysis of the sequels that is coherent, thoughtful, and provocative.

  21. I reacted pretty well to all the characters, even Rey in TFA., Rey’s intro in TFA as a scavenger was the best of the new characters IMO. But by the end of the movie, Rey completely lost me when she deus ex machina defeated Kylo. She felt like a cheat code character. TLJ ruined Finn for me, Rey continued to be unbearable and Poe acted a lot like a reckless hero wannabe yet at least he learned by the end. TLJ did not improve upon their development or gave them much depth, not like the OG characters received.

    • The biggest damage this trilogy received was not having a single director for all movies, leading to Rian;s subversion of everything JJ established.

  22. I think there is a way for Rey to become the new Luke Skywalker that all fans can relate to, but Episode nine needs to have the back-bone to do what it takes.

    While I have no doubt that Kylo Ren and Rey will clash in Episode 9, do they only do so once? I believe that the best way to reconcile the Rey/Luke legacy is to have Ren and Rey clash early on in episode 9 and have Ren completely dominate her (perhaps even take one of Rey’s arms or a tad bit further). Toss some force lightning in there.

    How she escapes is anyone’s guess but I wouldn’t mind a Force Ghost Luke intervening in Rey’s behalf to hold Kylo off. Luke could also lead Finn or Poe to rescue her while he himself holds Ren off.

    This clash will really shake Rey’s confidence in herself and have her undergo a transformation where we get to watch her build herself up and become stronger than she was before. Such that when she and Kylo Clash towards the end of episode 9, she does have a shot at defeating him (or turning him back or what ever else Disney and Lucas-film has planned).

    While she would still be powerful at the end, the audience would at least feel that she earned such power rather than have it handed to her on a silver platter as seemed to be the case in TFA and TLJ.

  23. Frankie
    0

    JJ ended up rehashing the Original Star Wars whereas Rian ended up mish mashing Empire and Return to create a twisted hybrid that wasn’t satisfactory. Another Empire Rebel War, a crappier less compelling Rebellion, a techno advanced empire that’s even more incompetent, its utterly depressing. Also, the name of “Rey” isn’t good. Its a terrible name. It means King in spanish.

  24. Unfortunately… I’ve recently realized that I no longer take the Rey character seriously. Any mention of “Rey” and my brain says, “Pfft.. whatever”. Thanks to Rian Johnson and TLJ. And Rey was my favorite character from TFA.

    • To be fair, she was already a poorly-written character in TFA to begin with. Rian Johnson only sealed in all of her Mary Sue stench.

  25. Joseph Cernik
    1

    A good essay. I enjoyed the discussion on the democratization of the Force.

  26. Perfectly articulated. Thanks for the analysis.

  27. Luke is a better character in everyway. Rey will never be as close to iconic or good as him. In combat she is better because she’s a Mary Sue.

  28. Luke is so iconic because of how much character development he gets. While Rey on the other hand has everything handed to her, she has not had to earn anything she gets. And it’s hard to identify with someone who is amazing at everything.

  29. Interesting analysis. You got a lot of meaning out of the Sequel Trilogy I didn’t see. It is right that, despite the oft-cited similarities between the original trilogy and sequels, the sequels are going in a direction too contradictory to the whole rest of the saga.

    What do you think about that this might be the result of Abrams’ “Mystery Box” theory of writing (which, to paraphrase, he has described as “You put something mysterious in a box for the audience to wonder about, and it doesn’t matter what it turns out to be.”) with regard to Rey’s parentage in Episode VII?

    • CulturallyOpinionated

      Honestly, I don’t think the “mystery box” approach works for a franchise like Star Wars if the questions they set up don’t get answered. It’s one thing to have some mystery in the universe, like concerning the true ephemeral nature of the Force, that don’t need to be meticulously laid out. But it’s another to ask “Who are this character’s parents?” in a universe where parentage is extremely important and then not answer it. Parentage may not always be the end-all of character in real life, but for sure is in Star Wars, and trying to abruptly ignore or change that goes against why people resonated to the franchise in the first place.

      The worst manifestation of this involves Supreme Leader Snoke. He’s set up as the Big Bad of this trilogy and then not immediately explained in Force Awakens, fine. But then he’s unceremoniously killed off with no explanation. The entire conflict of this new trilogy and how the galaxy went from “Happy Ever After” at the end of Return of the Jedi to “Here we go again” at the beginning of Force Awakens hinges directly on the actions of Snoke. Why did the Rebellion apparently not really win? Why is there another Dark Side Force-user? Where did all these soldiers and weapons come from? How was he able to corrupt Ben Solo, and what’s his relationship to Luke if he hates Luke so much? It apparently all ties back to Snoke, so if we’re going to understand the wider situation we need to understand Snoke and his motivations. And then he’s killed suddenly and we’re told he didn’t really matter anyway, so we’re left without the necessary backstory for why the universe is the way it is and why we should care about this movie’s stakes more than in any other given dystopian sci-fi’s plot. So the idea that “it doesn’t matter what [the answer] turns out to be” is completely out of line with storytelling in Star Wars.

  30. Jeffery Moser

    This article points out the doubleness of the human spirit and literature’s oft opposing elements that create conflict for and within the protagonist or heroes of any genre.

  31. Stephanie M.

    I could fit in a thimble what I know about Star Wars, but I like the idea of Rey as a protagonist, and conflicts based around bloodline vs. no bloodline (not the best way to put it, I know, but…) It would be easy to side against Anakin, Luke, and other “bloodline” characters, but they win sympathy as well, because if you had always expected to be the next “Chosen One” and some random kid showed up out of nowhere, wouldn’t you be upset, too?

    Then again, is a smooth transition possible? I don’t know. The controversy over Rey’s role in Star Wars is one reason of many why I think there’s a point at which we need to leave narratives alone. And I *hate* Disney’s tendency to kill the past for the sake of killing it (don’t get me started on the tradition of motherless protagonists, my mixed feelings about remakes of animated jewels, etc). However, this should provide an interesting commentary on how well we as a media audience do at respecting the past while accepting change.

  32. What of the most important points in this article is that the sequels are inconsistent with the rest of the saga, and I think that is why fans are having such a hard time with it. With that said, though, I think younger fans will still enjoy it (as many, but not all, younger fans enjoyed the prequels). Although it does feel like Disney is trying to set a very different tone with this series simply to justify the rest of their Star Wars projects, which don’t focus on the Skywalker bloodline. It appears that they want people to get comfortable with the idea of star wars not automatically being synonymous with Skywalker, which is a heavy task, to say the least.

  33. Personally, I really, *really* dislike the whole idea that Rey has to be linked to one of the more important figures in the saga to have gotten her powers. The execution admittedly could’ve used some work, particularly in The Force Awakens, but the incredibly vast world of Star Wars feels much smaller when you boil down most of the important events to being linked to a single family line.

  34. CulturallyOpinionated

    I don’t either, really, and that’s why I would have preferred for the new movies to be completely removed from the Skywalker Saga. No Luke or Vader, no Leia or Han, no Empire or Rebellion. I wish they had set the universe in a different time with new characters that didn’t rely on the original Lucas characters, or who were so far removed from them that the interaction wasn’t direct, like how Americans in 2019 are only “related” to the Founding Fathers in that America is only a country because of these men in the past. Star Wars fans love the “Knights of the Old Republic” series,for example, in part because it’s so different and separate from Lucas’ original movies. But Disney thought the only way their older audience would see these new movies would be to include the original cast, so they made that (sensible) choice. Maybe after “Rise of Skywalker” is over we can start getting some real, original content from Disney.

  35. I love reading articles discussing star wars and this one was excellent. Great Job

Leave a Reply