I never considered myself a hardcore Star Wars fan before, I'll admit. But after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I might very well be. The newest film been in theaters for less than a week, and I’ve already seen it twice. Because of this, I can happily report that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is the most feminist film of the year.
Die hard fans of the series were doubtful at first — and after the train wrecks that were Episodes I, II, and III, who can really blame them? What fans hoped would be an epic origin story wound up being a looked down upon series with weak characters, and a lot of WTF moments. (Two words: JarJar Binks.) So when the trailer for The Force Awakens dropped, fans were already hesitant. And then, in what has been traditionally a boys’ club throughout the years, J.J. Abrams dropped a female protagonist into the world. Not only do we get a new female lead in Rey out of this film, but reports surfaced that The Force Awakens passed the Bechdel Test a week before the film dropped.
Given all of these facts, I was excited to see the movie based on the buzz alone. (But still slightly hesitant, because I’m still not over all the midriffs Natalie Portman had to wear as Queen Amidala.) Beyond the Bechdel test, beyond the new female protagonist, lies a decidedly feminist approach to a series that hasn’t stood up to the challenge in installments past. The hints in the trailer of the feminist force awakening carry through to the film. If you’re still on the edge of your seat, wondering if you should see the movie? Put your trust in me, and go see it. Also, stop reading this article, because there are definite spoilers ahead.
1Introduction To Rey
Not only is Rey a feminist female lead, but her entire first scene is an action sequence where she's on her own and trying survive. In the first thirty seconds of Rey's screen time, the audience doesn't even see her face. It's impossible to tell if she is male or female, and if that's not a way to introduce a main character, I don't know what is.
Rey's costume is practical, unsexy, and beige as hell. She wears pants and a material wrapped around her in a way that doesn't show off curves, attempt to dump cleavage on viewers, or suggest anything aside from the fact that they're practical for a girl who scavenges the desert for a living. And other actors took notice. In an interview with Time, Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma, said " It is rare that women get to play a character and below the neck they are really covered up to the extent that you cannot really see the flesh outlines of their body."
3Rey Lives Alone
And she does just fine. It's clear that she's been on her own for some time now, from the way that she works, to the way that she eats, and even how she entertains herself. She dreams of something more, and yet she's completely capable on her own.
4Rey's First Line Of Dialogue
When a droid tussle interrupts her entertainment for the evening, you get to hear Rey speak her first line. And it's in a foreign language. Can I get a hell yeah? Not only does she make her debut throwing down in one language, throughout the film she comprehends at least four different languages. Her male counterpart? He only understands one.
5Rey Saves BB8
Rey saves BB8 , the film's adorable new droid, from a certain parts-selling death, and doesn't ask for anything in return. She's not saving him for her own motivations; she's lending him a hand, because she believes in everyone and everything's worth. She makes this clear when she tells BB8 that the creature trying to trap him, "has no respect for anyone."
Later, when she's offered sixty portions of food (enough to last her for-ev-er) in exchange for BB8 — she turns down the junkyard master, telling him that BB8 is not for sale.
6Rey Saves Herself
When Finn (John Boyega) first sets eyes on Rey, she's being pushed into an altercation with two assailants who are trying to snag BB8. Finn's immediate reaction is to play the hero — and yet, as he runs toward her to save the day — Rey takes care of herself, by whooping the two assailants with the help of her trusty walking-stick. As the first scene where Rey encounters dangers, it's so important that she handles things on her own, without the help of anyone, let alone the help of a man.
7Rey Doesn't Need Finn's Help
Moments later, when the real trouble arrives, Rey makes it abundantly clear that she can run, fight, and survive without Finn's help. She does, however, offer him a hand when he needs it. Ah, a beautiful and unexpected juxtaposition by the team behind The Force Awakens.
8Rey Is A Pilot
As they're running from the First Order, Finn shouts, "We need a pilot!" Rey counters, "We have one!" She's not even fazed when Finn asks, "You?" She then jumps in the pilot's seat and flies the old garbage ship (that happens to be the Millennium Falcon) outwitting the First Order all the while.
9Rey Takes Charge
Once on the ship, Rey orders Finn to take on the gunner's position. The girl has no qualms about taking the lead, or urging her male companion to do better.
10Rey Isn't A Manhater
Even though she gets a wee bit sassy with Finn while they're deep in the Stormtrooper heat, once they fly to safety, she's quick to praise him for his efforts. They make a good team, and she knows that.
11Rey Can Fix Things Without Help
When something in the Millennium Falcon starts leaking poisonous gas, Rey quickly takes to the valves with tools (that Finn doesn't know anything about), fixing it without Finn's help.
12A General Lack Of F*ckboys
The obvious infatuation with Rey on Finn’s part is good for comedic timing, and a little bit cute — Rey doesn’t seem to be interested, or fazed, by the flirting. He asks her if she has to go back to Jakku for a boyfriend, and she simply shuts him down. Rey's life doesn't revolve around men. And later in the film, we see that Leia's life doesn't revolve around Han Solo, either.
13Rey Holds Her Own Against Han Solo
After Han Solo and Chewie show up to snag it back the Millenium Falcon, Rey has no problem standing her own next to the tried and true showboat that is Han Solo. She jumps into the front seat with him, saying, "...you could use a co-pilot.”
14Han Solo Arms Rey
Han Solo knows Rey can defend herself, giving her a blaster to use when she's in danger.
15Maz Kanata As The Cantina Boss
Not only does she run the watering hole — and has for the last 1,000 years, she’s knowledgeable— she's unafraid to call people on their sh*t, and doesn’t die while defending her stomping grounds.
16Leia and Han's Reunion
This reunion could’ve easily been Leia fainting into Han’s arms, or Leia continuing her princess shtick. Han mentions that Leia doesn’t want to see him, and that’s why he’s stayed away. Leia however, shows that she’s the bigger person, and isn’t above forgiveness for the greater good. That doesn't mean that they wind up back together though, no matter how many feels the above gif might give you.
17Princess Leia As General Organa
This time around, Leia's a general, not apPrincess. And that in itself, is epic. No longer simply powerful because she's royalty, Leia Organa proved her worth to the Republic and now functions as an incredible leader and is more than just the face of hope to the Resistance.
18Leia As A Mother And A General
Major spoiler alert: Leia, albeit a general, is also a mother. And not just any mother. No, she's a mother to Kylo Ren (AKA Ben). Even though she's Ben/Kylo Ren's mother, she puts saving the remains of the Republic first. But she tells Han to bring their son home, even after all that he's done to hurt them. Will we see this love bridge the dark side gap in the next installment? Only time will tell.
19Rey Gives Kylo Ren A Taste Of His Own Medicine
Rey holds nothing back when she sees into Kylo Ren's mind, causing him to run away to his supreme leader.
20Female Fighter Pilots
Although the above Gif is indeed of Poe Dameron, it was also my emotional reaction when I realized there were female fighter pilots in this episode.
21A Female Baddie
You never see General Phasma's face, which is pretty amazing. Most female villains are sexed up a la the Bond films, but General Phasma is just a towering, slightly terrifying, and sassy villain. We can only hope the trash compactor didn’t get her, and that we’ll see her again.
22Rey Is A Humble Badass
Rey continues to kick ass, without making a big deal out of it. She’s intelligent, quick on her feet, and doesn’t need anyone to pat her on the back. A product of a childhood on her own, she does what she needs to do to survive, and doesn’t showboat when she does survive.
23Rey's Emotions Don't Hinder Her Abilities
After Solo dies, Rey doesn’t become a pile of emotions unable to continue her mission. Nope, she continues kicking butt and taking names, even if her mentor just kicked the bucket.
24First Woman With A Light Saber
In the history of Star Wars films, only men have wielded light sabers. But when the trailer was released, people frothed at the mouth as a woman's hand took hold of a lightsaber. Not only does Rey feel a pull toward the lightsaber, but she uses it, and uses it well.
25Rey Trumps Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren tries to turn Rey to the Dark Side by offering to teach her about The Force. That's when Rey realizes she's been fighting Kylo Ren without using The Force. That’s right. She’s just been kicking his ass due to her natural abilities. Once she taps into The Force, she really crushes it.
The Force Awakens reminds people that two women can be in charge without it becoming a competition. What a novel idea.
27Rey Finishes The Narrative
While both R2D2 and Chewbacca accompany Rey on her trip to the Jedi Temple to find Luke Skywalker, she makes the final trek alone — solidifying her place in feminist character glory and history, leaving lady nerds everywhere proud as hell to have such a stellar character in the ranks.