It has come to our attention that certain fans and critics are up in arms about the heroine of the reborn Star Wars franchise, the scavenger-turned-force-wielder named Rey, because they claim she’s a “Mary Sue.” Not only does she lack enough “flaws” for these fellas, but it seems beyond these their scope of belief that she would have all the natural abilities she does — despite knowing she’s survived alone as a scavenger since she was a child, and the Force is extremely strong with her, etc.
Of course, Rey is a pretty extraordinary hero, but so are all heroes of movies like The Force Awakens. Here’s a little secret: they all manage to magically dodge raining bombs, bullets, and overturned vehicles, be a few steps ahead of explosions, go one-on-one against the bad guys, escape captivity, and save the day. They do this hero stuff even though — and even within a given universe’s logical parameters— they’d probably choke or be smushed by said vehicles, despite their strength and training.
So if we were giving all the canonical heroes the same hard look critics are giving Rey, we’d find a lot to critique. But for the sake of fairness, maybe we should be scrutinizing movie heroes for “realism” and “flaws.” With that in mind, here’s a look back at the canon of beloved heroic films for a newly revised list of great Mary Sues in Movie franchise history. Enjoy the fan service.
Old Han Solo
Star Wars: The Force Awakens features a number of heroic new heroes, but perhaps the guy who got the biggest cheers in my opening-weekend screening was an older friend. Literally. Elderly Han Solo. That’s right: judging by the franchise’s timeline, this guy is comfortably middle-aged at best, long past getting senior discounts to the intergalactic movie theater at worst. And let’s be honest: if he weren’t such a boring Mary Sue, he would have at least a little beer belly, a smidgen of arthritis, and a strong aversion to that noise the kids today call “music.” Instead, he’s still a dashing hero, jumping from place to place, fighting nimbly, wrangling giant Rathtars, and so forth. Your man-crush is showing, J.J. Abrams. Oh, and none of Chewbacca’s fur is gray? Say what you will about the Wookiee lifespan, but Chewy has seen some shit. Talk about a Doggie Sue.
As we discussed in our exploration of the biggest male sluts in franchise history, the syphilis alone would have crippled this guy a long time ago. He started sleeping around long before we knew about many an STD, and we never see him take out a condom. So if he weren’t such a lame-ass Mary Sue, Bond would probably have to stop running on trains, jumping off burning buildings, and emerging from underwater deathtraps to take his antibiotics on the reg. And furthermore, Bond comes within a millimeter of death many, many times and always seems fine afterwards, with not even a little bit of stiffness or any balance issues. If we really think it’s unrealistic for Rey to pick up the Force as quickly as she does, it’s twice as unrealistic for Bond to recover from near mortal-injuries by lying on the beach and having a hot chick give him a sponge bath, which is pretty much his standard medical routine.
After Bane breaks his back in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman gets healed up by amateur criminal doctors in a prison and never has to go to a chiropractor, not once, not even for the occasional therapeutic massage. And he’s not doing yoga, either, let us note. I call bullshit, as does this spine surgeon who was interviewed by a fan site. Epic Mary Sue moment, there.
Aragorn, Son of Arathorn
The parallels to Rey here are unmistakable. Sure, he has royal heritage, the same blood runs in his veins, yadda yadda yadda. But this guy spends years just wandering around as a Ranger, getting dirty as all heck, and then suddenly he’s the leader of not only the Fellowship of the Ring, but various human and ghost armies, as well as, oh yeah, the entire kingdom of men. We may buy that he can find healing herbs in the wild and other elvish trickery, but where are we given evidence of training in being a general and a statesman, huh? And if he’s the blood-heir to the weakest human king in history, Isildur, why does he never get tempted by the One Ring at all, but instead swear to Frodo that he will accompany him right to Mordor? He’s way too perfect. Mary Sue. Bo-ring. And let’s not even start with Legolas.
He’s raised by Muggles for the beginning of his life, totally malnourished, and kept in the dark about his wizard identity. Yet he still ends up being the dude who saves the world and the Chosen One. Suuuure. Come on. If he weren’t such a freaking Mary Sue, young Harry would have spent his entire time at Hogwarts scarfing down seconds at the dining hall, taking remedial magic courses with an exasperated prefect as his tutor, and going to get counseling from the overworked warlock in the North Tower who’d teach him mindful breathing exercise and the basics of Freudian analysis.
Being realistic here, at some point somebody would have caught on and stopped using metal around this guy. The fact that he always manages to find some sort of “metallic loophole” to do his morally ambiguous brand of damage shows that he’s a major Mary Sue.
My main issue with Bourne as a hero boils down to his knees. You cannot tell me this guy doesn’t have bad knees at this point. He never even winces when he jumps off various rooftops onto other rooftops. He’s not even going to wear a knee brace? Half the NBA is wearing a knee brace. Just the worst kind of Mary Sue.
A punk kid living in the middle of nowhere on a desert planet gets an unlikely message from a droid which thrusts him into an epic battle between good and evil. Yet suddenly he realizes he has innate Force-sensitivity and with very little training is able to dodge danger, stand up to the most sinister bad guys out there — including his own dad — and wield all kinds of Jedi weaponry? Um, no way would this kind of thing ever happen, no matter how far, far away the galaxy was, nor how long ago.