Favorite Fictional Characters, #23: Rey
It's always an unexpected pleasure when Hollywood's mucking around with your nostalgia produces something worthwhile. Too often, the result is a soul-numbing cash grab like the Transformers, or slickly-produced flotsam like Star Trek, most of which fails by ignoring the qualities that made the originals so beloved. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to the collective relief and euphoria of fanboys and girls everywhere, tackled this issue head-on, deftly making Episode VII equal parts sequel and reboot. Sort of a requel (seboot sounds like a vitamin deficiency). The film works, and in large part it works because of Rey.
What's not to like about our new heroine? When you merge together the best parts of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, you're going to get something awesome. Yeah, she's a bit of a Mary Sue (She speaks more languages than a protocol droid! She's a sand-urchin who can fly Corellian starships! She's got a doctoral degree in hyperdrive maintenance!), but then, all things are possible with the Force. She's attractive without being over-sexualized (no gold bikinis here, or even the Amidala-style torn midriff), clever, decisive, and best of all, flawed yet unbroken. She's vulnerable without being victimized, emotionally traumatized without being paralyzed. Daisy Ridley plays her with range and enthusiasm, holding her own in scenes with Harrison Ford. For the record, I'm a believer that she's Kenobi's granddaughter. Come on. You think he was just sitting around Tatooine for twenty years while Luke went into Tosche Station for power converters? Let's just say there's a reason he knows Mos Eisely is a den of scum and villainy.
I think it says a lot that my boys' favorite character in the new movie is Rey. When they play Star Wars in the yard, they argue over who gets to be her the way we used to fight over who got to be Han Solo. When one of them got a Rey toy for Christmas, there was no reluctance to play with a female action figure. To me, that says that a charismatic hero will always appeal to children (heck, to all of us) regardless of gender. I'm looking forward to Episodes VIII and IX, and Rey (Kenobi) is a big reason why.