Daisy Ridley responded to her character Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens being called a Mary Sue on the internet.
There has been much discussion about Rey, who debuted in the Star Wars universe inThe Force Awakens, and whether or not she is a successful character. Not all of the consensus is positive. For example, a lot of people on Twitter, and the internet, in general, believe Rey to be a Mary Sue. To get a more informed opinion on the debate, Screenrant went to the actress who plays Rey, Daisy Ridley.
Before we get to Ridley’s response, it’s important to establish what a Mary Sue is. Urban Dictionary defines a Mary Sue as a female character who is so perfect, she is annoying. This character is clearly the favorite of her creator. She gets all the breaks, all the cool and “good” character traits (physical fitness, beauty, intellect, grace, likability, etc.), and often has a glorious destiny.
The concept of a Mary Sue goes deeper than these superficial qualities, however. At the heart of a Mary Sue is a cardboard cutout of a character, with no real personality other than the characteristics described above.
Image Credit: Lucasfilm
While I agree that Rey was awfully competent for having no real world experience outside the backwater world she called “home,” the quality of her character is where the logic behind her being called a Mary Sue breaks down. Rey is not a cardboard cutout. She is fierce, vulnerable, kind, naive, lacks confidence, and is loyal to the death. Yes, she’s inexplicably good at certain things, like piloting and using the Force. But then, as Daisy Ridley explained to Screenrant, Luke Skywalker was just as competent in A New Hope.
Below is Ridley’s quote.
"“The Mary Sue thing in itself is sexist because it’s the name of a woman. Everyone was saying that Luke had the exact same [capabilities]. 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.”"
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Ridley has a point in that Luke and Rey are actually very similar, yet no one is calling the former a Marty Stu (the male equivalent of a Mary Sue). Again, I understand the complaint that Rey is too competent in The Force Awakens. For example, she has no proper training in the Force whatsoever, yet she is able to perform a Jedi mind trick through sheer force of will. But then in A New Hope, Luke uses the Force to guide a torpedo into the Death Star without ever having consciously tried to do such a thing before. He is a great pilot, despite never having had any proper training as one. And he has a glorious destiny, even though he grew up on a backwater desert planet populated mostly by farmers and thieves.
Notice any similarities here between him and Rey? And yet, no one views Luke as a cardboard cutout. This inconsistency is what makes me think there is a gendered bias going on here; either that or there is a chronic misunderstanding of what makes a good character.
Because, despite their being so cool and skilled at random things like piloting and Force using, we love Rey and Luke. There is more to their characters than the fact that the Force seems to be smiling down on them and guiding every step of their fate towards galactic greatness. They are kind and innocent. They don’t want the burdens of hero work (okay, Luke does at first, but he does get impatient with Jedi training in The Empire Strikes Back). They are hopeful, and they make steadfast friends. These qualities are what make the Mary Sue and Marty Stu characterizations obsolete.
What do you think about this debate over whether or not Rey is a Mary Sue? Do you think Rey is awesome no matter what she does, or do you think she was just too good and too competent in The Force Awakens? Talk to us about it in the comments below.