From the original trilogy Princess Leia was the only fully formed female character. Although she was serious and knew her way around a blaster, she was notably treated differently because she was a woman and royalty. The Force Awakens luckily pushed that envelope a little further giving Star Wars fans the heroine we’ve been waiting for in these ten ways. WARNING LIGHT SPOILERS!
1. From day one Rey is independent and has been surviving on her own.
She could have been a young kid that had someone taking care of her, like Luke, but instead this movie starts with her working and living on her own. She has to be athletic and strong to be a scavenger, so we know she is capable of more.
2. She doesn’t help a man with his destiny. She has her own!
Often female characters are treated as the helpers to the male, but that doesn’t fit Rey at all. The movie is heavily focused on the path she needs to take and her mysterious past. If anything everyone else needs to help her reach her goal.
3. She proves a woman can know a thing or two about engineering and flying.
In real life there is a lot of problems with sexism and STEM fields so it’s awesome to have a female character in Star Wars showing off her knowledge. She even schools Han Solo on some things with the millennium falcon and gets offered a job!
4. She isn’t overtly sexualized.
A lot of fans of the franchise have fantasized about Leia in her slave bikini, but forget how truly sad it was to degrade the only female character this way. Luckily Rey hasn’t been stripped down and overtly put out as a sex object. She is a complicated character that is more than her body.
5. She never needs to be saved.
Leia had her moments of strength, but she also had to be saved multiple times in order for Luke and Han to be heroes. Although Fin assumes Rey needs to be rescued in several situations she has showed each time that she doesn’t need to be rescued.
6. We finally get a strong, female jedi.
It makes absolutely no sense that Leia was never trained to be a Jedi. She was virtually wasted to let Luke be the hero against the dark side. Thankfully the latest installment rights this wrong by giving us a strong female Jedi that will get proper training.
7. She is treated as a peer by all of the men in the movie.
In the beginning the men try to handle Rey with kid gloves, but they all eventually realize that just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she needs to be treated differently. They fight with her, fly with her, and fully accept her into their group without focusing on protecting her.
8. Her story barely involves romance, which is relatable.
You wouldn’t know it from movies, but a lot of women’s lives have very little to do with romance. We have conflicts, struggles, and goals that are completely unrelated to that. This movie gives us a female character who can identify with that. Sure there maybe a little hint of a future romance, but overall this movie is about comrades and a serious battle.
9. She isn’t ever given a lame reason to be sidelined from the action.
Princess Leia did see some action in her day. But there were many moments where she was sidelined possibly to let the men shine. She never flew into battle, but watched it from a control room. She also was never trained to use the force that could definitely have helped the rebel cause. Thankfully this never happens to Rey and she is mostly at the center of the action instead.
10. She came from nothing
It is cool that we have Princess Leia and Padme Amidala as two female characters, but they both came from royalty. A lot of the respect they have or how they are treated is relying on that. However Rey gives balance to show how the average (or poor) woman is living on her planet, and her journey to rise to the occasion when it is asked of her.