With the premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last month, many people, myself included, were unsure of whether or not J.J. Abrams was going to be able to pull off bringing life to a universe many wondered might just be a phenomenon of the past, a bittersweet and distant memory of a time when we all got goose bumps when anyone said “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…”.
Regardless of whether or not everyone agrees he accomplished this on all marks, it’s already in its first month the highest grossing film of all time, and for many very calculated reasons, among them, Abrams’ decision to steer towards the “retro” ascetic and spare the OG fans a recurring of overly CG’d prequels. Also, I think another choice that was vital to the film’s overall reception was his decision to rewrite the script originally written by Michael Arndt with Lawrence Kasdan, who also co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return on the Jedi.
Abrams, also in the fashion of the original trilogy, chose relatively unknown actors to blend into the cast of otherwise beloved, household names. Among these fresh faces was the alluring Daisy Ridley, a 23 year old British actress and media proclaimed “no one”; the announcement of her character, Rey, drew attention and curiosity long before the film’s release.
Like every one, I was unsure of what to think, excited but nervous and weary that a story so dear to so many geeks’ hearts could be done real justice in a modern cinematic atmosphere that can, at times, pander to the highest bidder. It was with this fear and as open of a heart as I could muster, that I saw the film a couple weeks ago.
My hair stood on end the moment the text began to scroll, and again, I felt my arms ripple with the goose bumps of my childhood. For the tiniest of moments, it was like time had never passed between then and now, and I was once again a child in expectant awe. But, more than anything, than any of what I personally found to be a fantastic group of performances, there was Rey, who somehow fit seamlessly into the world of MY Star Wars, but, like a promise to the little girl I was once was finally fulfilled on screen.
And it is because of this so many are already calling Rey’s character a feminist icon. She is strong and beautiful, intelligent and kind; a breath of fresh air in a world of sexual pandering from female heroines. There is no sappy instant and distracting romance asserting itself over the continuation of a decade’s long epic we have sat patiently on the edges of our collective seats in anticipation for (except for Han and Leia, and we wouldn’t want it any other way). In fact, the relationship between the two main characters comes off as more of a bromance, which I found refreshingly realistic to the plot and their characters.
I don’t know about my opinion on the labeling Rey a “feminist icon” but I do know that I want more, trope free, female characters like her. Fuck the “damsel in distress” that can’t defend herself or the love struck princess with overly prominent cleavage. Real women are not these tropes and Rey’s resonance with the female geek fan base is a true testament to this.
Now, we only need to make it until May of 2018 for the scheduled release of episode 8 without going end of days crazy in anticipation.
I mean, we can do it, right? *starts sharpening riot shank*