What Star Wars fan isn’t disappointed with Star Wars lately? I’m sadly one of those people and I’m really itching for the franchise to return to its former glory. I’m willing to pay top dollar for the next movie’s opening night, but my enthusiasm is low. I’ll dive deeper and just say that Disney really needs to rethink their game plan. In fact, I don’t think they ever really had one to begin with. It makes me sad, considering I greatly admire what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but come on, why can’t they do the same with Star Wars?! This has been bugging me for a while now and it actually pains me to even write about it, but as lifelong Star Wars fan, I just can’t stand seeing what I love go down the drain. So what’s the solution?
About a week ago, Daisy Ridley confirmed what we’ve been suspecting in an interview with Josh Gad. When Gad asked her about Star Wars secrets, Ridley revealed that the “plan” for Rey’s character development was basically just playing it by ear. According to her, the whole “Rey being Palpatine’s granddaughter” was never a part of the game plan since the beginning. It actually turns out that Rey’s lineage was something no one could reach a general consensus on for some reason.
Daisy Ridley went so far as to explain the multiple ideas that were in store for Rey’s background. The most surprising one she mentioned was an Obi-Wan Kenobi connection that they were playing with. Then another was basically Rian Johnson’s plan, where she was pretty much a nobody. It’s obvious that’s the route Disney wanted, considering Rey was revealed to be pretty much no one in The Last Jedi. Then… Rise of Skywalker happened with a new director and then things got very confusing.
So did J.J. Abrams really plan the whole granddaughter of Palpatine since the beginning? Well, Daisy Ridley went so far as to tell Josh Gad that he pitched her the idea once they got to episode nine. The thing is, she even claimed that Abrams didn’t even stick with that plan and kept changing Rey’s parentage. While I give her credit for being professional, I can’t imagine the amount of confusion that was going through her head. She straight up admitted that even Abrams himself said he wasn’t sure on where to go with Rey. The worst part about it is that Daisy Ridley said that even while she was filming, she didn’t know that answer.
Seriously, just when we thought it couldn’t be worse, this interview reveals everything. When the director himself doesn’t even know what direction to take, you know there’s a problem. That last part really stood out to me because it really shows the depth on how clueless Disney and their directors were while handling the biggest franchise ever. Even John Boyega came out and claimed there was no plan for Finn while also claiming that there was a plan for Rey and Kylo Ren. Well, it turns out that wasn’t even the case. Not only did they not have a plan for their chief supporting characters, but their main protagonist as well.
I can’t get over how crazy that is, but Daisy Ridley really opened our eyes. She’s a talented actress and seems like a nice person, so I’m pushing for her to get another chance at playing Rey. All she needs is a director and producer with a plan. Oh, and a good script. Speaking of which, what were Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy thinking when they were developing Rey? Since The Force Awakens, Rey has often been accused of being a Mary Sue, or basically a character that has no flaws and is good at everything.
Personally, I never really agreed with that assessment, but I wasn’t entirely against it. However, I do believe The Rise of Skywalker helped reenforce the Mary Sue label. Let’s face it, it didn’t take much effort from her to destroy Palpatine. He threw the biggest blast of force lighting at her and she just blocked it like it was nothing. Even Mace Windu struggled while blocking his force lighting, but Rey had almost no problem doing it. Come to think of it, she really didn’t take that much physical damage throughout the whole trilogy. The most physical damage she ever took was from Snoke when he tortured her. Except, she really didn’t have a scar to show for it, so that was something she quickly recovered from.
I feel like they were just banking on the idea that since she’s a girl, she should just be strong. I know how that sounds, but just hear me out, because it’s an issue. Let’s talk about another Disney-made movie called Mulan. No, not the classic animated version, the live-action version. I’ll admit that I haven’t watched it yet, because I don’t want to pay the thirty bucks to watch it, but based on what I’ve heard, it was money well saved. I mostly rely on YouTube critics when it comes to movies, and the two I trust the most are Chris Stuckmann and Jeremy Jahns. When I watched both their reviews on Mulan, they both basically said the same thing about the movie.
The parts that stood out to me the most is when they criticized the live-action Mulan for not being like the animated one. According to them, the live-action Mulan had a moment of revealing her gender as she rode into battle and she did this because the witch character encouraged her to embrace who she was. On paper, this sounds like a good “you go girl” moment, but there was one problem. Stuckmann pointed out that live-action Mulan was revealed to be “the chosen one” type of character by the end of the movie. This very much killed the “girl power” aspect they were going for and for many reasons.
What made the animated Mulan so great is that she was a woman forced to survive in a man’s world. This means she had to physically and mentally push herself beyond those boundaries in order to save her father and her country. That was the significance of the scene where she had to climb the post and get the arrow. She pushed herself beyond what was expected of her and in the end, she became a hero. Simply put, she had to work to become a warrior and took her licks to get there. Now that’s a great female character.
Now that’s the difference between the animated Mulan and the live-action one. While animated Mulan had to work to earn her title of heroism, live-action Mulan was already an untouchable warrior. That really took away the impact Mulan had on female characters and it’s a problem that rubbed off on Rey. Granted, she was a self-made scavenger, but she was literally good at everything. How did she sail a boat in rough waters? She’s from a planet that’s literally all sand! It’s just one of the many things that bothered me about her development.
Now I’m going to go so far and say that it’s fixable. Rey has the potential to be a great character, but she needs better direction. The disappointment of the Rise of Skywalker should be a massive wake-up call to Disney. They need to re-evaluate their strategy and give their characters better character arcs. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s something they need to do. If they want to win back the Star Wars fan base, they need a better plan. Take more time to draw it out, have a better relationship with their directors, and no more Mary Sues. I’m all for strong female characters, but they have to work for their titles. Mulan became an icon because she proved herself. She struggled, but the harder the struggle, the greater the triumph. That goes for any kind of character.
Just have to give another shout out to Daisy Ridley for revealing so much during that interview. She can do better and so can Disney. If they can do amazing things with the MCU, they can do the same for Star Wars.