Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
My Plan B thesis addresses the gendered portrayal of the female character Rey in the most recent three Star Wars films released between 2015 and 2019. The latest trilogy is comprised of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. These films present the character Rey, who brings many firsts to the series. She is the first woman to be the central character in a Star Wars trilogy, she is the first woman to use the Force, and she is also the first woman to wield a lightsaber. Despite her firsts, Rey still draws criticism for her gendered portrayal. Fans and critics have called Rey a “Mary Sue” character in the first two films. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Mary Sue is “a type of idealized female character, typically a young woman, unrealistically lacking in flaws or weaknesses.” My argument builds on this recent criticism of Rey as a “Mary Sue” character and challenges it by exploring The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in 2019 after scholars’ criticism appeared. Rise took two approaches with creating conflict in Rey in response to criticism from scholars and fans alike. The first approach is that Rey becomes the Angry Woman, whose rage must be contained in order for her arc to be considered complete. The second approach is in the Ultimate Evil Mary Sue. Because the Star Wars fans haven’t seen this transition from Mary Sue to Angry Woman, is Rey still ultimately a Mary Sue throughout Rise? The answer is that she is at once Mary Sue and Angry Woman. As another form of scholarly critique, it is discussed what Star Wars fans are saying on various social media sites. Fans echo what the scholars are saying, but are also challenging Rey’s status at a Mary Sue. Rey can be used in later Star Wars materials as a stepping stone for even more well-rounded female characters in the franchise’s future.
Wiser, Samantha, "MaRey Sue: Perpetuating Mary Sue Stereotype in the Star Wars Trilogy" (2021). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 1584.
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