I could talk about the script, special effects, pacing, etc. of the new Star Wars movie. I could, but I won’t, because I don’t really care.
It’s a good movie. It’s not actually a perfect movie, but I loved the story and the characters. I laughed and I whimpered, and I will be running to see the next one.
But, more than that, it surprised me in two very important ways.
There’s a girl (Rey). She seems competent and interesting and likable, with plenty of potential for a story arc. But I’ve seen that before.
There’s a black guy (Finn). He seems competent and interesting and likable, with plenty of potential for a story arc. But I’ve seen that before too.
So I’m sitting there thinking: I know where this is going. Finn is going to die early in the movie so his whiter* ally Poe can understand how high the stakes are. Rey is going to be rescued. It’ll look like she can be the hero, and then at the last minute a guy is going to step in and save her.
*Poe is played by Oscar Isaac, who is Guatemalan American.
Finn and Poe crash. They both make it out (I told you there would be spoilers!) but it’s Finn the story follows, Finn who meets Rey, Finn who gets character development.
As for Rey… well, I think this moment kind of illustrates her treatment in the movie:
Rey: ‘Stop grabbing my hand!’
Finn: ‘No! We have to run!’
Rey: ‘I know how to run without you holding my hand!’
Rey is built up as the traditional hero of the movie, the successor to Luke Skywalker.
Towards the end of the movie, Rey takes up Luke’s old lightsaber to face down the supremely creepy Darth Vader wannabe. They fight. She does well, but he’s winning. He has her trapped on the edge of a cliff.
So naturally I’m sitting there, all stressed out, curled into a ball in my seat and biting my lip. It’s not because I think she’s going to die (we’ve already had our shocking death for this movie). It’s because I’m hoping like crazy: please let her rescue herself.
AND SHE DOES.
To sum it up: the black guy survives (probably) and gets the girl (and hopefully isn’t her brother). The girl is the protagonist and remains the protagonist for the entirety of the movie.
May the Force be with them.