So the next Star Wars trailer dropped recently. (Not Episode 8. This one takes place in between Empire and Jedi. Get used to these, Disney’s gonna drop ’em like Marvel films.) And fanboy outrage has spread rapidly, most hissing about the new lead female Jyn being a ‘Mary Sue’.
How they came to that conclusion based on a two minute trailer is beyond me, but one thing about as certain as the sun rising are the hissy fits of fanboys when a new pop culture phenomenon is released.
So what exactly is a Mary Sue? (Or a Gary Stu in the masculine form) Wikipedia gives a more in-depth definition along with the history behind the name, but loosely defined, it’s a character who is good at everything for no apparent reason other than the writer/director wants them to be.
The most recent example is also related to Star Wars, the target being Rey, the heroine of the new installment. She can speak every language she encounters, survive alone in a hostile environment without much difficulty, easily pilot and repair starships, use the Force, and wield a lightsaber to not only battle but defeat a trained opponent.
In other words, she’s a Mary Sue.
Hard to argue against that, considering she is perfect at everything she does and doesn’t fail or even stumble at anything. So just seeing another female lead in a Star Wars film apparently impels some folks to assume she will be exactly like Rey, I guess.
Thing is, now that the term has hit mainstream it is being inappropriately attached to any female character who does more than swoon and fall into bed with the male protagonist. It’s also being applied to just about every female who’s featured as a lead character. And that’s just not fair, and in fact is biased at best. After all, the Gary Stu counterpart has existed for eons, simply not spotlighted with the same venom because they’re men.
I like the focus women characters have been receiving, even if it sometimes ends up delivering stock ‘badass female’ characters and even the occasional Mary Sue.
Because the damsel in distress thing is played. Time to move on. And if I have to choose between a character like Rey or one like the Lois Lane character in the train wreck called Batman vs Superman, I’ll go with Rey every time.
But how about we not go there at all? When writing or creating characters, it’s important not to have a character be flawless for the sake of being cool, or worse yet, being a proxy for our own wish fulfillment. If a character is great at a lot of things, there should be a valid reason and backstory for his or her skills. Anything else is lazy writing, folks.
Not to mention cheating.
So, what’s your opinion? Any Mary Sues or Gary Stus come to mind in literature, TV or movies? Let me know in the comment section!
My name is Bard Constantine, and if you’re reading this you already know that Bard Writes Books.