Rey Skywalker: Wonder Woman without the Substance

This is the fifth in a series of articles examining how Lucasfilm’s Sequel Trilogy deconstructs the mythos and story of George Lucas’s Star Wars.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V <

Wars Not Make One Great, but Naivety Can

The ability to destroy all the Sith is insignificant next to the power of being sincerely naive to the external narrative opposing your moral idealism. If you don’t immediately see what I’m getting at, I venture to guess that you subconsciously do – and this is the power of narrative and storytelling….

I’ll start by reviewing the triumphant victories from two excellent examples of naive heroes: Luke Skywalker and Diana of Themyscira. Following, I’ll contrast these stories with the triumphant victory of Rey Skywalker.

But before that, let’s shake off the negative connotation many have with the word “naive,” particularly as it pertains to heroes with specific moral beliefs. And when done right, why this type of naive hero represents one of the more soulful connections between protagonist and an audience.

One of Luke Skywalker’s defining characteristics is his naivety, but sincerely so. For instance, Luke’s naivety was continually portrayed as a strength of his character, and not necessarily a weakness. Luke moves through his story surrounded by both friends and enemies (e.g., Obi-Wan, Yoda, Palpatine) that all share a common belief – Anakin, Luke’s father, is lost forever. Even Luke’s sister, Leia, wishes that he would avoid the confrontation in order to survive another day – assuming that the confrontation will only lead to pain and suffering or the loss of her newfound brother.

Luke’s naivety must therefore weather the pragmatic storm and external narrative about his father in favor of following his heart, internal hope, and moral idealism that there is still a chance for the good only he can sense in his father. Luke must decide that his feelings inside and belief system are true, despite this opposition from every direction. We can see in hindsight that had Luke given into the thought that his father was lost, Anakin and Luke would likely be dead, or Luke may have ultimately turned to the dark side. Because Luke chooses to throw down his weapon and remain naive to the external narrative about his father, he saves Anakin, and Anakin saves Luke.

This is what sincere naivety looks like in heroes, and why it can be the one thing separating our protagonist from all other characters in a story.

Now that we’ve established naivety as a strength, let’s take a look at how this is structurally and successfully presented within a story by reexamining Luke’s triumphant victory in Return of the Jedi-

Luke’s belief that there is still good in the heart of his father carries on Padmé’s dying declaration:

“Obi-Wan… there… is good in him. I know there is… still…” -Padmé Amidala

In this way, Lucas was careful to plant this seed post-Original Trilogy so that it presents a narrative through-line from the Prequel Trilogy. Padmé and this philosophy have died – there was no one to carry on this belief system until A New Hope emerges.

Though Luke is tempted several times to give into his anger and strike the Emperor down, his belief system is ultimately rocked when Darth Vader threatens to turn Luke’s sister to the Dark Side.

At the threat of losing his sister, Luke finally gives into his fears and anger. Luke believes, for the briefest of moments, that everyone around him is right, and that his internal belief system was flawed – here, and only here, Luke concedes that his father is irredeemable. Once this thought grabs hold in Luke, he attacks Vader. By doing so, Luke is attacking his own belief system, his hopes, and the very thing that he intended to save and protect – the good he senses in his father.

This temptation carries Luke all the way to the edge of darkness, and he is faced with the opportunity to destroy the defenseless symbolic armor of evil responsible for all the sadness and great loss in his and his family’s life.

As Luke contemplates his actions at the edge of darkness, Lucas uses a visual cue – Vader’s severed hand – which signals back to a previous and extremely personal encounter: the first interaction revealed between father and son. Luke looks back at his own robotic hand – which was severed during his battle with Vader on Cloud City. In his hand Luke holds immense power, but this is also symbolic of the sins of his father. Lucas uses this visual cue for our protagonist, and the audience, to center back on our protagonist’s moral idealism.

Luke realizes that if he strikes his father down, he is following in the footsteps of Darth Vader and admitting to everyone around him that his belief system was flawed, and that his heart was wrong to follow. Unbeknownst to Luke at the time, he would’ve been admitting in front of his father that his mother, Padmé, was also wrong about the man she too believed Anakin to be.

The way George arranges the story, I know that was the wrong thing to do.[The Emperor] wants [Luke] to give into his anger and his hate, and the fear – the structure George laid out in all the movies is coming to fruition now.” -Dave Filoni

As Luke attacks Vader, we see what Luke looks like without his sincere naivety, and it is a heart-breaking and empty version of the young man we met on Tatooine. That’s because Luke’s moral idealism, and his sincere naivety, is the defining characteristic that fills Luke up with hope, bravery, and defiance. In this moment, Luke and the audience can see that this is the wrong path. The audience also doesn’t want Luke to be wrong, because if Luke is wrong – it is wrong to hope.

Do we as fans of storytelling and Star Wars wish and hope that Luke is faced with a reality where his father is truly lost and needs to be put down? Or, do we desire, hope for, and soulfully connect to a message that love can rise above the darkness? The “realism” approach seems to be a popular technique, and one that was argued to be a reason Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi was “good” for Star Wars. However, and as we’ll discuss below, avoiding characters with sincerity is not a widely agreed upon technique – from Patty Jenkins:

“I’m tired of sincerity being something we have to be afraid of doing. It’s been like that for 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has shied away from sincerity, real sincerity, because they feel they have to wink at the audience because that’s what the kids like.” -Patty Jenkins

I don’t know about you, but at least as far as Star Wars is concerned – I find more meaning with the messages tied to sincere and moral idealism. That a sincere message of hope is one of the more powerful and soulful relations a storyteller can make between the protagonist and the audience/reader.

“George has this hopeful story, and it’s something that he’s reiterated most times I’ve seen him, after we’ve been making things without him is, ‘Remember to make these stories hopeful. ‘Remember to give that to kids because they really need it.’” -Dave Filoni

Thankfully, Luke returns to his foundation and also the naivety that never gave into the external narrative surrounding his father. Luke declares that there is nothing that will change his belief system, and that there is still good in his father….

And he says, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” But what he’s really saying, and why we connect, and why I connect to it, is because he’s saying, ‘I love my father, and there’s nothing you can do that’s gonna change that.’ The Emperor can’t understand that connection. ‘Why won’t you take from the power of the galaxy?’ ‘Why won’t you take this?’

And Anakin, in that moment, has to be the father that he’s never had. He has to give up all the power in the galaxy and save his son. And that’s the selfless act that he does in return for his son. And that’s what saves him in turn… Son saves the father, the father saves the son – and it works out perfectly. And I draw that line all the way from The Phantom Menace to [Return of the] Jedi. That’s the story of Star Wars. It’s all part of the fated arc and why it works and why we care.” -Dave Filoni


Diana of Themyscira

Now that we’ve established why naivety can be used as a strength and soulful connection to an audience, let’s look at another successful and more modern example of a sincerely naive hero: Patty Jenkins’s Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a. Wonder Woman.

First, I’ll point out that like George Lucas:

“My films have a tendency to promote personal self-esteem, a you-can-do-it attitude. Their message is: ‘Don’t listen to everyone else. Discover your own feelings and follow them. Then you can overcome anything.” – George Lucas

Patty Jenkins shares a similar belief about the moral story a hero should send:

“To teach people the lessons of thinking for yourself and doing the right thing and trying to be a good person.” -Patty Jenkins

“There’s so many things making it particularly difficult for people to learn to think for yourself. You are responsible. You are. For being a hero. Because no hero’s going to come. It’s going to be you. And you have to do it every day, not because anybody deserves it or anybody will know. You have to do it because that’s who you are and that’s what you believe.” -Patty Jenkins

Diana’s naivety and innocence also serves as her foundational strength – akin to Luke Skywalker. In order for her naivety to be used as a strength in-story, Diana’s moral idealism should be opposed by an external narrative of her story. As many are aware, Diana’s moral story centers around the evil that is the God of War, Ares, and his influence on the good hearts of men or humanity, in general.

As Diana leaves Themyscira, she enters “man’s world” and is faced with example after example of corrupted and less than noble men, but like Luke, she and her naivety about the good of mankind persist. And in a world that’s lost faith in any hero emerging, Diana demonstrates her worth at “No Man’s Land.” Here, Diana makes a choice to move forward and continue to fight for what she believes in, proving to the characters around her that if they believe no man can, she is the man that can.

“This war is – a great big mess. And there’s not a whole lot you and I can do about that. We can get back to London and try to get the men who can.” -Steve Trevor

“I’m the man who can!” -Diana Prince

This is reminiscent of another profound moment for heroines, when Eowyn, daughter of Éomund and Theodwyn, delivers the decisive stroke during her duel with the Witch King, which prophecy stated ‘not by the hand of man’ could he fall….

“I am no man.” -Eowyn

During her duel with Ares, Diana is faced with an extremely personal attack from the reality and corruption of men. Here, Diana’s belief system is rocked: the corruption of “men” and world war has led to Steve Trevor’s death, which presents a final test of Diana’s moral idealism.

The world of men has taken the first man she has fallen for. Wonder Woman finally gives into her anger and believes, for the briefest of moments, that her internal belief system was flawed – here, Diana finally concedes that the hearts of men may be irredeemable and her purpose for protecting them is irrelevant or undeserved. Ares encourages Diana to give into this fear and anger, just as Luke is encouraged by Palpatine-

“They don’t deserve your protection.” -Ares

Wonder Woman attacks the German soldiers, and by doing so, she is attacking her own belief system, and the very thing that she aimed to save and protect – the good that she once believed existed in the hearts of all men.

This anger carries Diana all the way to the edge of darkness, and she is faced with the opportunity to destroy a defenseless symbolic mask of evil that has served as a catalyst for the great loss in her life.

As Diana contemplates her actions at the edge of darkness, Jenkins, like Lucas, uses a visual cue in the form of a flashback – Diana’s last conversation with Steve. We watch as Steve tells Diana that the world needs her naivety and incorruptible heart. That her actions have broken through to Steve, and that he now believes in Diana’s moral idealism – that he believes in Diana – that he loves Diana.

Steve makes the ultimate sacrifice for Diana because he sees that if the world were to lose Diana and her moral idealism, the world would suffer endlessly and Diana would become an empty and dark version of the woman he loves. Again, this is because Diana’s sincere naivety and moral idealism is what fills her character up with hope and defiance. Diana remembers herself and the person Steve believes in. This is a touching moment that leaves Diana with a symbol of their time together, and also why moments that present us with a choice represent an opportunity of “more time” to do the right thing.

And like Luke Skywalker, Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, returns to her foundation and also the naivety that never gave into the external narrative opposing her moral belief system. Wonder Woman faces Ares and delivers her defiant message:

“It’s not about deserve, it’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.” -Wonder Woman

Patty Jenkins explains how many stories have shied away and have been afraid of promoting this type of hero:

I wanted to tell a story about a hero who believes in love, who is filled with love, who believes in change and the betterment of mankind. I believe in it. It’s terrible when it makes so many artists afraid to be sincere and truthful and emotional, and relegates them to the too-cool-for-school department. Art is supposed to bring beauty to the world.” -Patty Jenkins


If She Looks Like Wonder Woman….

And this is where we can really begin to contrast the message of Rey Skywalker to that of the message of a demigod superhero like Wonder Woman.

Here, I’ll highlight the visuals used during Rey Skywalker’s triumphant victory, which are meant to clearly make the audience think of Wonder Woman, but unfortunately, the same self-empowerment and sincere naivety delivered by Patty Jenkins is nowhere in sight.

“With your hatred, you will take my life. And you will ascend.” -Emperor Palpatine

“All you want is for me to hate, but I won’t. Not even you.” -Rey Skywalker

Palpatine asks Rey to kill him and take his place at the throne of darkness, but is this a personal temptation for Rey? Does this make Rey emotionally vulnerable like Luke or Diana? Why is Rey personally confronting Palpatine?

“He killed my mother. And my father. I’m going to find Palpatine… and destroy him.” -Rey Skywalker

So Rey’s temptation is to hate Palpatine because he killed her parents. And what’s at stake?

“They don’t have long. No one is coming to help them. And you are the one who led them here. Strike me down. Take the throne. Reign over the new Empire, and the fleet will be yours. Only you have the power to save them. Refuse, and your new family… dies.” -Emperor Palpatine

If Luke’s and Diana’s final test and moral idealism overlap, it’s a message of never giving up on what you personally believe despite what everyone else around you believes-

“My films have a tendency to promote personal self-esteem, a you-can-do-it attitude. Their message is: ‘Don’t listen to everyone else. Discover your own feelings and follow them. Then you can overcome anything.” – George Lucas

“To teach people the lessons of thinking for yourself and doing the right thing and trying to be a good person.” -Patty Jenkins

So, what is Rey’s moral idealism and how is it being tested?

We are actually never made aware of what Rey’s moral idealism is, nor does Rey need to contemplate whether or not her moral idealism is flawed. For argument’s sake – let’s assume Rey’s message is to be good no matter where you come from: there is no external narrative testing Rey’s message of being good for good’s sake – both friends and enemies (Finn, Leia, Luke, Kylo Ren) have always agreed with Rey – Palpatine is bad and must be stopped. Further, Finn literally rises from the symbolic armor of evil in the First Order to become narratively “good.” This can’t be Rey’s moral idealism.

So far all we know is that in order for Rey to succeed as Luke and Diana do, she simply needs to choose not to be evil when someone who is unmistakably evil asks her to be evil.

In this way, the edge of Rey’s darkness is a rather shallow slope compared to the personal cliffs Diana and Luke were facing.

And Rey’s motivation for confronting Palpatine in the first place?

A rather pale comparison considering the family dynamic of Luke’s journey, and the foundation of love and optimism at stake in Diana’s. Why? When Vader threatens Luke’s “sister” we are fully aware of who Luke’s sister is – Leia, and we care for Leia as an individual because we’ve seen what she stands for and we have three film’s worth of evidence as to how much Leia means to Luke. So Palpatine tries to use the murder of Rey’s parents as a reason for Rey to hate him and turn evil.

The problem with this temptation is that we, to this day, still have no clue who Rey’s parents are. They have no canonical names, so we do not know them outside of one flashback scene that provides approximately 10 seconds of connection and 6 seconds of their murder. And this flashback scene is not operative during Rey’s contemplation at her shallow slope of darkness.

Without any story development, it is hard to argue that the death of Rey’s parents carries with it as much narrative weight. We are simply meant to care deeply about two characters without canonical names because they are associated with Rey, not because we know or care about them as individuals as is the case for Leia and Steve Trevor.

In any case, the reluctance of both Diana and Rey to give into their fears and anger draw the ire and fury of their opponent, and both antagonists are visually shown using or drawing lightning from the sky, arms over head.

Both antagonists then hurl their lightning strikes at our protagonists, but our protagonists are able to block the strikes. Wonder Woman’s scene is enhanced by dynamic movement as we see Diana bracing for impact and skidding across the floor. Both Rey and Palpatine are stagnant – Palpatine stands at his throne and Rey stands still as she blocks the lightning.

You are nothing! A scavenger girl is no match for the power in me!” -Emperor Palpatine

Is the factoid that Rey was once a scavenger the reason we are to believe she is vulnerable? This after learning that she is the granddaughter of Palpatine and her parents were murdered? The story appears not to be able to make up its mind about what fills Rey up with hope and defiance, and this is because she lacks clear sincerity surrounding any established moral idealism.

Emperor Palpatine Weak. Like your parents.
Rey My parents were strong. They saved me from you.
Emperor Palpatine Your master, Luke Skywalker, was saved by his father. The only family you have here… is me.

Our narrative between Diana and Rey now diverges even further. A through-line from the beginning of Wonder Woman is that Diana believes her sword is the fabled “God Killer.” This weapon, Diana believes, is the only means by which one can kill a God such as Ares. As Ares destroys this weapon during combat, the narrative is meant to invoke the loss of hope because the weapon needed to defeat Ares no longer exists. Instead, we see that this whole time, her mother and aunt protecting her, the training she has committed to her entire life as an Amazonian warrior, was because it is Wonder Woman who is the “God Killer.”

Rey inherits an ancestral weapon of the Skywalkers, and eventually uses Leia’s saber as well – but she makes little personal connection to both Luke or Leia, and has no personal connection to Anakin what so ever. In fact, Rey inherits nearly every aspect of the story by right of her presence -Poe’s droid BB-8, Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker’s X-wing, Anakin Skywalker’s saber, and Leia Organa’s saber.

Where the God Killer sword dictates Diana’s entire understanding from childhood to adulthood up until her final battle, there is no backstory to the significance of these weapons and objects to Rey’s history. She simply collects them, and we literally see that these weapons and objects make Rey stronger, or at the very least, are necessary tools to defeat her adversary.

In Rey’s story, her weapon is just as important to defeating her adversary as she is. Contrasting with Luke who throws away his weapon and all of his power for the sake of hanging on to the last glimmer of hope he has for his father, and Diana realizing she does not need to draw upon the power of a weapon, only herself and her belief in love.

In fact, Diana’s resolve for choosing love is so profound that she even considers and names Ares as a brother to her among the Gods before putting an end to his pursuit of destruction.

And what of any visual cue to add emotional weight to Rey choosing to be good in the face of evil? Remember, we see Vader’s hand in Luke’s story, and a flashback with Steve Trevor in Diana’s. The cue used in Rey’s story is one of drawing (yet more) power from the Jedi of the past, but we cannot cut back to a personal moment with Rey and the Jedi of the past because Rey has no personal connection to the Jedi from the past. All the Jedi begin speaking to and encouraging Rey that they are with her and we are meant to see that they give her more power than she has, but we are not told why all the Force ghosts from the past are collectively doing so or that this was something that they could even do in the first place.

Without the actual Force power of the Jedi from the past, we are meant to believe that Rey would not have succeeded. This is an opposing message to Luke’s story of throwing away his power and hanging on to hope, and also Diana’s story that all the power already existed within her the entire time and she needs no external assistance.

So, while Diana’s triumphant defeat of Ares is rooted in her sincere naivety to never give into the outside pressures and cynicism of our world, Rey draws on the power of the physical objects in her hand and all the elders she has no personal connection to in order to defeat Palpatine. Is this the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga, or just Dark Side Power vs. Light Side Power?

I am all the Sith!” -Emperor Palpatine
And I… am all the Jedi.” -Rey Palpatine

If it wasn’t apparent from the dialogue alone, all personality has been stripped from this confrontation by avoiding family connections and family momentum present throughout Episodes I – VI. The Skywalker Saga is no longer about granddaughters or grandfathers, or mothers, or fathers and daughters. George Lucas’s family soap opera and the so-called “Skywalker Saga” ends with a literal battle between the absolute power of all the evil vs. the absolute power of all the good. What message does this send? The Skywalker family’s place in this story was to survive long enough for another hero to rise and do what they could not – destroy Palpatine.

In contrast, and like Luke Skywalker, Diana’s triumphant victory sends a clear message about never giving up on your moral idealism. So much so that the film uses a voice over to spoon feed this message to the audience:

“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.” –Diana of Themyscira

Rey’s message of overcoming evil by overpowering it is void of a moral conflict, and instead underscores an antithetical message of Lucas’s Luke Skywalker:

And the only thing that’s gonna save [Luke] is not his connection to the Force, it’s not the powers he’s learned. It’s not all these things that are an advantage. That’s gotten him to the table. But what saves Luke is his ability to look at all that and look at his father and say, ‘No. I’m gonna throw away this weapon. I’m not gonna do that.’ ‘I’m gonna let that go and be selfless.’” -Dave Filoni


Women Always Figure out the Truth. Always.

So, how could JJ Abrams miss the mark so badly with respect to the themes of found and adopted family, and also the message of using power to overcome evil in The Rise of Skywalker? Let’s step back for a moment and grab a broader perspective: Patty Jenkins offers a glimpse at the pushback she received from her studio when writing a vulnerable and sincere Wonder Woman:

“There were a lot of conversations [regarding studio pushback on making Wonder Woman vulnerable], definitely, and it was a constant surprise to some people that I was doing it. But you look back at the history of characters, and oftentimes any notion that the lead person doesn’t get to be anything but impeccably right, that becomes D.O.A. That’s been a problem with some of the female characters they’ve tried to put forth. They’re too hard or too strong. I think “Hunger Games” was one of the great things changing that. She’s just a girl.

I don’t think any movie has to have any specific kind of person. I wasn’t directing a woman, I was just directing a hero, and that freed me up to go broader with her personality than someone might be able to do if they were afraid to make her vulnerable and loving and warm, and not always right, which is absolutely imperative to a leading character. That’s been one of the hardest things about leading characters: Other people might not have felt safe, or worried [that] if there’s any vulnerability, what that’s saying? But main characters have to have flaws, and have a journey and be rich.” -Patty Jenkins

Is it possible that JJ Abrams faced similar pushback, or perhaps even lost creative control over The Rise of Skywalker? This is, after all, the same director that began writing Rey with sincere naivety in The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi simply never bothered to develop her moral idealism or present a compelling external narrative opposing Rey other than to choose to be good when evil asks you to be evil.

Perhaps Rey was meant to be tested emotionally, and perhaps there is another story about her vulnerability as a young woman that had her childhood stripped from her. Another interesting comparison between Rey and Wonder Woman is also related to many heroine’s discovering a truth about their story. Wonder Woman’s lasso is a more literal tool for this characteristic, where Diana can command the objective truth of those she lassos. In JJ Abrams’s The Force Awakens, Han Solo alludes to something similar for Rey, when he tells Finn that:

“Women always figure out the truth. Always.” -Han Solo

However, in The Last Jedi, Rey only commands half-truths about her story and the story of Luke and Kylo Ren. And in The Rise of Skywalker, Rey does not discover her truth – she is told her truth by men – “You’re a Palpatine.”

Perhaps we’ll never know what the original intent was for Rey, but consider me among those suspicious of studio meddling being responsible for the complete deconstruction of The Force Awakens by way of The Last Jedi, and an anticlimactic conclusion to the so-called “Skywalker Saga” in The Rise of Skywalker.

“George has this hopeful story, and it’s something that he’s reiterated most times I’ve seen him, after we’ve been making things without him is, ‘Remember to make these stories hopeful. ‘Remember to give that to kids because they really need it.’” -Dave Filoni


Will Lucasfilm Ltd. one day return to its moral idealism concerning the future of storytelling in the Galaxy Far, Far, Awa? Until then, I hope Disney or Lucasiflm are at the very least contemplating their actions at the edge of our fandom’s darkness.

May the Force of Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau be with us, and may the Force be with you. Thanks for reading!

8 comments

  1. Rey’s story ONLY works if she’s a Skywalker by blood (Specicallfy if she’s Luke’s daughter). I don’t know why LFL couldn’t see that.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Rey Skywalker/Solo *does* carry more immediate, clear, and complex ties to the central “soap opera” of the Saga, and would have fit the “rhyming” scheme that was present in the PT and sometimes in the ST (particularly with Kylo Ren) much better… and it no doubt would have more likely than not discouraged the overshadowing aspect of Kylo Ren’s story in the last two films, and probably led to Finn not being quite so quickly supplanted and ignored by LFL (since Kylo would no longer be the only “polarity” of the Skywalker story, and any romance option between Rey and Kylo would have died quickly.)

        However…

        Rey “Random” *could* have worked… but only if The Last Jedi were a completely different movie, and so dedicated itself to that premise that the Skywalker storyline (and Kylo Ren) was ultimately a “mis-step” that it would have to be closed in a downer, deconstructing note that pretty much requires treating Kylo as a one-note “proof” that we need to move past the Skywalker. Because ultimately, TLJ was disproving it’s own thesis – you can’t simultaneously argue for moving past the Skywalker and that bloodlines don’t matter when your film dismisses and condescends towards the non-Skywalkers while fixating on the family so much it effectively demotes the leads: Finn *and* Rey are basically punished in that movie for not being Skywalkers, with Finn banished from any significance or ambition and Rey banished from the spotlight of the climax.. almost literally after Kylo tells her she has no place in this story.

        Don’t get me wrong – ultimately, the key to making Rey’s story work would be “great writing for her.* BUT!… that gets considerably easier when she’s part of the same family story the other major protagonists are. And I’d don’t think that could be disputed: even on strictly conceptual level, Rey Skywalker fuses her story goals to the Skywalker family story, while Rey Random diverges them and even puts them at odds in a way. Getting an ending that would be rewarding for *both* Rey and the Skywalker is achievable enough with Rey Skywalker you can play around with the mechanics of getting there… but Rey Random means that you”re basically guaranteed to have either their story end in depressing disappointment, or her story end in depressing disappointment.

        Liked by 2 people

      • This is a pretty great reply. The only thing I’ll add is that Rey Random would’ve also required Rey’s story to be intimately weaved with the Skywalker family in a much more heart felt manner than any of the films outside of her brief connection with Han in TFA. The other issue here of course is that as soon as we make Rey random, Finn is completely bypassed and ran over – which is altogether disheartening considering he had one of the more original and “hero from nowhere” introductions in the saga. In sum, I agree that Rey’s story would have benefited from not even better writing but simply, a better understanding of what the major narrative through lines of Episodes I-VI were, which obviously brings us back to the central protagonist naturally being a generational Skywalker.

        Great thoughts!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Luke’s naivete is the problem in the Original Trilogy. Yoda literally tells him how to save Vader in the first five minutes and it takes Luke two movies of complaining, ignoring him, defying him, doing the exact opposite, gettings his limbs cut off, falling to the Dark Side and force-choking everybody, until at the last second he’s like, “Oh… that’s why Yoda told me I didn’t need the lightsaber to confront ultimate darkness. NOW I GET IT!”

    Like

    • That’s a fun perspective re Yoda, but I’ve never personally taken Yoda to know that Anakin can still be saved. For me, Yoda still believes that Luke, when fully trained, will be able to defeat Vader, not save Anakin. So I agree, in a way, in that Yoda is clearly telling Luke that the only weapon he needs to confront evil is himself, and that the weapon and war does not make one great.

      I think we are meant to believe that Luke is alone in thinking his father can be saved. Regardless, thanks for the read and comment!

      Like

    • I think it actually qualifies as a complexity that, unfortunately, neither Abrams nor Johnson quite managed to match. If “naivety” translates to “stop thinking you can solve all your problem with violence,” then BOTH Luke and Yoda (+ Obi-Wan) are somewhat guilty of this. Luke, as a young hot-blooded hero, jumps to aggression to quickly, yet Yoda and Obi-Wan are convinced that Vader must be physically confronted and implicitly killed.

      And the thing about Luke in ROTJ is that he tries to use the passive but clever and diplomatic strategy against Vader – he surrenders himself and just makes his appeal to his father… but that’s also because he believes that simply taking himself away from his team will still lead to the fall of the Empire. His faith in his friends is his ace in the hole in the end. He only grabs the saber when Palpatine’s full trap is revealed and there seems to be no way out except by violence… and still shows more diplomacy and calm for the majority of the fight than Yoda or Obi-Wan would likely encourage, because of their own inflexibility on Anakin.

      Johnson appeared to get the passivity lesson, but over applied it in TLJ both as a flaw and as a solution, while Abrams understood the more human nature of ROtJ, but only imitated it in TROS.

      Like

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