Before watching The Force Awakens, I’d heard that it had a lot of parallels with the original Star Wars; so I was looking out for parallels when the movie started. And, sure enough, they were right there: there’s this person who is being chased by the Empire (well, they’re not called the Empire, but they’re the Empire with the serial numbers filed off), who sticks plans in a droid, who gets captured, and, after a bit (sooner than in Star Wars), who gets rescued.
So: this Poe person is Leia? And BB-8 is R2D2, Rey is Luke, Finn is Han, Kylo Ren is Darth Vader, Han is Obi-Wan, Chewie is himself, the Millenium Falcon is itself, Jakku is Tatooine, etc. (And nobody is C3PO; poor guy.)
Of course, none of these new characters are carbon copies of their 70s analogues. So maybe I’m stretching, maybe the new characters are remixes of the original, with their own flavor added in? E.g. Poe acts like Leia at the start, but like Luke when he’s flying?
Which is reasonable enough, but I’ll suggest a different way to look at the movies: take that analogy seriously, and say that Poe is what Leia could have been in a different world. A world where this incredibly competent woman wasn’t boxed in by being a princess, a world where we didn’t have the Return of the Jedi ridiculousness two movies later of showing her as being bold enough to threaten Jabba the Hutt while breaking into his hideout to rescue her boyfriend, then where the movie lost its nerve and decided that, no, we really needed to see her in a bikini, but then it got a bit of courage back and at least let her strangle Jabba. A world, instead, where she could fight and kick ass with the best of them, where her leadership skills weren’t relegated to some sort of abstract planning that we didn’t have the material to conceptualize. A world that acknowledges that, yes, sexual tension is a thing between adults, and that the Leia analogue and the Han analogue are probably the best fit for each other, but everybody gets their own agency, we don’t have to lead into that with damsel rescuing tropes.
Don’t get me wrong: the original trilogy did a lot of things well with Leia’s character, and the Leia of those movies can certainly plausibly lead into the General Organa of the new movie. But still: we can do better. And I like Poe as a vision of what an important, attractive character who is slightly off the main focus of the plot could be.
- January 18, 2016 @ 22:02:58 [Current Revision] by David Carlton
- January 18, 2016 @ 22:02:58 by David Carlton