5 Star Wars Characters That Are Actually Mary Sues
Since Star Wars Ep VII was released, people have been arguing about Mary Sues, but after 4 months of watching this debate, I must step in.
With The Force Awakens now out on blu-ray, we’re bound to see fans obsessing over every detail of the film and go through the movie frame by frame to look for Easter Eggs and hints at what’s to come for our heroes. And, of course, we’re bound to see debates spring up again about the film, and chief among these regards the nature of Rey and whether she is a Mary Sue.
Some people have begun conflating any strong female character with being a Sue, but this is inaccurate. Characters that are Sues tend to be strong, but often over-powered and even outshining canon characters. Other qualities like being suspiciously too young for the kind of power they have, or being overwhelmingly attractive despite situations, or that they suddenly show up and become the love interest of a desirable main character. These types of characters are common in fanfiction written by youngsters and it’s not that big of a deal when a kid wants to write a power fantasy story for themselves, but professional adult writers deserve a bit more critique. Sometimes canon characters can be Sues, depending on the quality of the writing.
What strikes me as odd about the argument over Rey, though, is that there are a number of characters in the Star Wars Universe that pre-date her that also have Sue-like qualities, but don’t seem to be as discussed as hotly.
1. Mara Jade Skywalker
Okay, everyone getting mad at Rey, I have a question for you: where the hell were you when this hot mess of a character was a thing? She’s a mysterious and beautiful secret elite assassin for the dark side that has force powers that can match Luke Skywalker, before converting to the light side and then they fall in ~wuv~ and the whole damn Expanded Universe seems to revolve around her. I don’t care how well-written she was, her concept as a character is inherently silly. Her character is a very good example of how fan authors got ahead of themselves and added things to the EU that came far too close to overriding the plot and point of the Original Trilogy. If someone like her actually existed somewhere behind the scenes during the events of the original trilogy there’s very little reason why the Emperor would have waited so long to order her to take out Luke. Her place in the universe and relationships with other characters are obviously and clumsily contrived, even by Star Wars standards. Characters like Yoda or the newcomer Maz Kanata avoid Sue/Stu status because they have checks and balances. They are insanely powerful force-wielders but they are also dopey looking puppets/CG effects, so not really sexy unless you’re into that sort of thing. But there is virtually nothing that keeps Mara in check. Even her weaknesses and flaws as a character serve to add to her allure. There is literally nothing unattractive about her, and that’s the problem.
Mary Sue Rating: 5 Savage Oppresses out of 5
2. Kylo Ren
People were fussing so much about Rey that another one of the big characters in The Force Awakens slipped under our noses. When you look past the jokes about Ren being a bratty emo kid, however, he does sorta act like what would happen if the average Star Wars fanboy was transposed into the universe and given Force powers. His abilities are raw and he is shown on numerous occasions to do things Darth Vader could not, although he does have Anakin’s temper. And while Vader at least had a spot in the Empire’s chain of command, Ren answers solely to their creepy holographic supreme leader, making all his property destruction and abuse of the First Order’s soldiers fair game. Not to mention he’s the only person who manages to survive a clear shot from Chewbacca’s laser-crossbow-gun-thing, which raises questions about the quality of his armor compared to that of the Stormtroopers. And if he worships his grandfather so much, why wouldn’t Jedi-ghost Anakin show up and talk some sense into the kid? Unless, y’know, he couldn’t because the Force was disrupted and thrown out of balance again by the Supreme Leader and the massacre of all the new Jedi students. Good job Ben, good effort.
Marty Stu Rating: 4.5 self-insert fanfictions
As awesome as The Force Unleashed was at the time, its player character shouldn’t be above scrutiny. His over-the-top powers in the force are somewhat justified, as Lucasarts wanted to make a game with a physics engine that would let you wreck shit with the Force. But still. Super-force-jumps, force lightning from an apprentice and saber throw? The game is a fantastic power fantasy and stress-buster for fans, especially considering Mara Jade is nowhere to be found. Although the character is much more relatable and down-to-Earth compared to Ren or Mara, thanks to Sam Witwer’s great voice acting, it doesn’t make him any less silly. Then the game’s story doubles-down on the Sue factor by having him go from secret apprentice to founding member of the Rebellion and then having his clone show up in the sequel and be even more lethal with all the wacky powers plus dual-wielding sabers.
Marty Stu Rating: 4 poorly-constructed arguments defending Greedo shooting first
4. Obi Wan Kenobi
If you watch the films in chronological order of release, Alec Guinness’ performance as the jedi-turned-hermit is the story of an old master of the Force whom becomes a benign and self-sacrificing mentor to Luke. But if you watch the films in numeric order starting from Episode I you realize just how much old Ben screws around and actually kinda gets away with it. One of the reasons I don’t buy Rey as a Sue is because she makes mistakes, for which there are real consequences.
The prequels show us how Anakin became Darth Vader, and one of the early hints that the sweet little boy from Tatooine is doomed is that Obi-Wan is still a padawan himself when he takes on training Ani. Even though Obi is ill-equipped to actually deal with the kid and is deeply traumatized from seeing his own master die in front of him, the Jedi Council just… lets him do it. The Empire and Darth Vader’s reign may never have even happened if Anakin had been handed over to a more capable Jedi and teacher like Mace Windu.
As a Jedi ghost, Obi-Wan avoids interference as much as possible during Luke’s hero’s journey, which is another way of saying he shows up when he goddamn feels like it. He lies to Luke, withholds critical information like Leia being his sister until the last minute and is considered a hero despite not really deserving it.
Marty Stu Rating: 3 severed hands
5. Padme Amidala
Although the film does have moments where the mother of the famed twins is an admirable and well-rounded character, the poor quality of George Lucas’ script writing makes who she is as a character inconsistent and just a little too perfect. In spite of considerable ability, knowledge and political power, she can be silenced when convenient, and most of the time we are told she’s special rather than being shown why. The labels and roles she’s associated with, like “Queen/Senator”, “Anakin’s Girlfriend”, or “Leia’s Mother” come to mind before her qualities as a person actually do. While strong characters often do have dynamic and substantial relationships with other characters, they are entirely what defines Padme and she lacks the ability to stand on her own. Darth Vader is a tragic villain whom happens to be Luke’s father, Padme is the mother of the original film’s heroes whom happens to be… pretty? Stern? Driven until she ends up barefoot and pregnant? To her credit, she did at least help create a universe where her children can be stronger than she was.
Mary Sue Rating: 2.5 really pretty but impractical gowns to be wearing at Senate