Have you seen The Force Awakens yet? You should. One, because it’s pretty great. And Two, because I’m gonna probably spoil some stuff here and if you read on, you may become cross with me for doing so.
Ok. So, we’re agreed that you’re cool with reading anything that follows that may be spoiler-y? Great.
One of the many great things about The Force Awakens is the character of Rey, an orphaned woman surviving on her own as a scavenger on a desert planet who is not only beautiful, but also smart, tough, talented, determined, and a budding bad-assed Jedi.
She doesn’t need to be rescued. And when Finn keeps trying to protect her or save her, she yells at him a bit and then pretty much does it herself.
No stranded princess waiting for her Jedi Knight in Storm Trooper armor to come and save her from the bad guys here!
One byproduct of the awesomeness of Rey has become an unspoken (or sometimes actually spoken) agreement about Princess Leia Organa and her role in the original trilogy. And that agreement is this:
Leia didn’t get to do any of the cool stuff, like participate in the destruction of the Death Star. She pretty much just got captured and wore a metal bikini while chained to a giant slug.
This is dopey and wrong-headed.
Here are some of the things she did:
She’s the only person to stand up to Darth Vader without undergoing months of swamp-calisthenics.
She withstood advanced interrogation techniques and still never gave up the location of the hidden rebel base.
She took control of her own rescue, grabbing the blaster from Han, shooting a bunch of Storm Troopers and creating an innovative escape route on the fly.
She saw through their escape, knowing far better than Han did, that they had been let go from the Death Star.
She flew the Falcon while Han and Luke shot the TIE Fighters.
She was in charge of an entire military base, and organized the evacuation, saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
She shot a bunch more Storm Troopers on Hoth while trying to escape with Lando and Chewy.
She executed the plan that got Han unfrozen from carbonite, disguising herself as a bounty hunter and presumably learning an entirely new language to threaten a gangster with a thermal detonator.
While other people used light sabers and blasters to kill the bad guys, she choked a giant slug-monster to death with a chain.
She got to drive the speeder bikes and blast more Storm Troopers. And if we’re being honest, driving the speeder bikes was the one thing we all wanted to do after seeing Return of the Jedi. Those things were awesome.
After getting shot outside the deflector shield bunker, she just gritted her teeth and blasted the hell out of a storm trooper.
Leia was not a passive participant in the events of the original trilogy. And to denigrate her in order to lift up Rey is inaccurate and wrong.
Princess Leia was an inspiration to girls in the 1980s. So much so that my sister-in-law, who doesn’t care at all about Sci-Fi movies, named her dog Leia. And she did this 20 years after Return of the Jedi came out.
So, check your Leia-hating revisionism. It has no place here.