What's in a Mary Sue

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by The Cartoon Physicist The Cartoon Physicist 1 year, 7 months ago.

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  • #6024
    Shinra Kuroki
    Shinra Kuroki
    Participant

    Spoiler details: Vague details about Rey

    Rey has been the contention of a lot of internet debates lately, mainly over the question if she is a Mary Sue. If you clicked this hoping for a rant about the website The Mary Sue, that site is complete garbage & nothing more needs to be said on the topic. Back on topic, I thought I would discuss the topic of Mary Sues & share my thoughts on them.

    First off, what is a Mary Sue. Sometimes used to lambaste poorly written self insert characters in fan fictions; a Mary Sue is an overly capable, essentially flawless character in a story. Their character boils down to always doing the right thing & being able to do whatever the story needs them to do. Mary Sues tend to be frowned upon due to how much they break the immersion of the story. While any work of fiction is entitled to some suspension of disbelief, the Mary Sue is a character who sticks out like a sore thumb for constantly breaking it.

    How does a Mary Sue break the suspension of disbelief? Well, they do it from having jarring powers, abilities, or arcs that don’t make sense in the story. Sure it makes “sense” in terms of the story, but it doesn’t make sense in the terms of story telling. Each character is a thread that helps build the greater story. A Mary Sue is a thread that doesn’t quite fit into the weave like the other characters. The other characters have flaws and limitations, the Mary Sue doesn’t (or has a poor facsimile of them). Where “balancing” of characters is a very subjective ordeal, it can become easy to spot via comparing it to the other characters. Like I said previously, Mary Sue is used a lot to criticize self insert characters. The bias the author has for the self insert character makes the character clearly different from the others. So, to stop a Mary Sue, you look for the character who has been treated “differently” from the others.

    Is Rey a Mary Sue? I can see why some people think so. She’s knowledgeable, capable, & had the most trivial of flaws. If you break it down to D&D stats. she easily out classes everyone else in the story so far. This pure ability does seem to lack narrative consistency. While I do believe she could become a much more well rounded character in the next two movies; as it stands now, she is firmly a Mary Sue to some degree.

    What makes a character a Mary Sue in your opinion? Do you agree with my analysis of Rey? Who is the most reviled Mary Sue in your opinion?

    "Now, I’ve forgiven the world and myself, too. I teach myself to smile again. One day I’ll get there, I know I will. Even if it takes me not nine, but nine hundred lives." -Susan Ashworth from The Cat Lady

    #6025
    Nat
    Nat
    Participant

    I didn’t like Rey. I can’t even really put my finger on why, but she just rubs me up the wrong way. She was way too overpowered. At the beginning of the movie (SPOILERS) she didn’t even know the force actually existed, and then half way through, she just knew that she could perform jedi mind tricks on the Stormtroopers? And she’s more powerful than Kylo Ren, who was trained by Luke for presumably years and has been using the force for years. Imagine if Neo could fly in the first half hour of the Matrix.

    The whole movie was kind of annoying to me. I’m not even much of a Star Wars fan, but even I could tell it was structured pretty much exactly the same way, and the big death in the movie was obvious from the get go. And I thought Rey’s acting was fucking atrocious, to the point that she got out-acted by the godammed beeping robot!! (Side note: I did actually like BB-8, but that’s probably because I find him cute af :P).

    If the next movie starts out on a snow planet, I’m walking out of the cinema.

    - There was a signature here... it's gone now...

    #6027
    LaughingMan
    LaughingMan
    Keymaster

    When ask “What’s this character’s weakness?” and you have to take a long pause to think about it… it’s generally not a good sign. Which is why I liked Fin way better. Very powerful character arch compared to “wow there’s not much to using this ‘Force-thingy’ is there?”

    Don’t get me wrong, all of the characters in Force Awakens are genuinely as enjoyable (if not more) than the original trilogy (BLASPHEMY!!!). So I can’t complain too much.

    Not to get on a long rant, but this is the sort of thing that makes the “Galbrush” theory very applicable. Rey can magically fly the Millennium Falcon on her first try, she can fight off her attackers without needing Fin (she don’t need no MAN, man!), and apparently The Force is her own personal Deus Ex Machina, get-out-of-trouble card.

    Personally, I would let some of that go if they played up this girl’s phobia of leaving the planet a bit more (ie: Abandonment Issues, etc). However, this is Star Wars, where everything often very black-and-white by nature, and when you compare Rey to Luke in New Hope, there’s also not a huge list of faults with him as well: reluctance to move forward, some personal tragedy, getting into some sticky situations where escape looks improbable, takes a few beatings, etc)

    I’m honestly more turned off by the fact that Episode VII apes the original and Empire Strikes Back far too closely. If a person watched them side by side, would there be a similar ‘flow’ in regards to locations, plot points, etc?

    But that’s what Disney wanted: A sure-fire, can’t fail product. Let’s hope they do something besides rehash elements of Empire and Jedi from here on out.

    In the meantime, a sneak peek of the new Wasted Effort:

    #6029
    Mr.K
    Mr.K
    Participant

    I’m sorta mixed with Rey. On one hand, she is a good character who has to live on a planet by herself while learning to defend herself from attackers and running away from her troubled past (the scene where Rey witness her past with the Force was haunting and beautiful executed) and both Rey and Finn have a great chemistry. The other, it’s just what I like to call scapegoat writing 101 like how the hell did she manage to fly the Millenium Falcon and how in the world did she was able to learn on using the Force too damn fast in the film? Yet, no one was bothered by this writing and just ate the hype up like kids on sugar high LSD.

    I agree with LaughingMan on exploring more of Rey’s weaknesses in later sequels like her abandonment of the parents, the connection to Rey, Luke and Kylo Ren and yes, try to be something new instead of re-hashing A New Hope with Empire Strikes Back cause these characters have so much potential to be engaging (Finn is awesome and I want to see his badass transformation in the sequel) and also, why not explore Luke’s role as a Jedi Master more instead of being wasted in an awful rotating ending scene? That would be phenomenal.

    Still, I really enjoyed Episode VII and J.J. Abrams did a great job in replicating the feel and look of Star Wars with his sweat and tears but it could have been so much more. Also, I knew Cinemax and LaughingMan were gonna do a Wasted Effort on TFA’s Rey character since after all, CCS and controversies go together like peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    "The world is merciless and it's also very beautiful."

    #6030
    Jake_L
    Jake_L
    Participant

    Eh, I liked all of the characters fine, but Star Wars was never very good at presenting characters right out of their first introduction — aside from Darth Vader. If you break down a character based solely on their impact on the story or just their actions or even just what you see on your first encounter — which is where most of this ‘Rei is a Sue’ argument is coming from — then yeah, they’re going to be a Mary Sue 9/10 times.

    Go and see the movie again with all some of the luster and excitement of your first viewing and you’ll pick up on a few lines of dialogue that will rectify, or at least handwave, most of people’s issues with Rei — for instance, Rei grew up hearing stories about the Rebel Alliance and when Han says that “Everything about the Force, the Jedi, all of it is true.” it’s more than likely Rei had heard about Luke summoning his lightsaber from the snow in the Wompa’s cavern and that encounter between Obi-Wan and the stormtroopers; one of the greatest moments in film history.

    Maybe I’m just apathetic towards the flaws of VII compared to the glaring problems of I–III. My “criticisms” are more accurately petty nitpicks that don’t really matter. Rei’s a fine character with a lot of room for development, be it in the New EU or the next movies.

    #6032
    V-Tundra
    V-Tundra
    Participant

    I’ve gotta say that for me, the problem is not the characters, but the story itself. It’s my opinion that the movie has just too much stuffed in it. Searching for Luke Skywalker, discovering Kylo Ren’s true identity, Rey becoming a jedi and discovering the force; I thought all of these would be the main story arc for the new trilogy, but it’s all stuffed into one movie, it all looks like it was pretty rushed.

    Maybe if Rey would’ve trained and fought through 3 movies, I would accept her as a perfect character. We’d get to see a small-town scavenger become the hero of the galaxy, witness her struggles to comprehend and understand phenomena of myths and legends, see a relatable character EVOLVE into something more… but no, with only 2 hours in, we make the fast-transition from common scavenger to hero of the galaxy.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t think the movie was great, I think it was Ok. I was more worried about J.J. Abrams turning this movie into a clone of Star Trek (and despite very few parallels I noticed with it) but I think the problem relies on too much story being stuffed into one film.

    "The universe is one big joke, and the joke is on us"

    #6037
    Shinra Kuroki
    Shinra Kuroki
    Participant

    What I’m hoping for in ep 8 & 9 is Reys strong connection to the force being a doubled edge sword. I want it to be either too much for her to control, or for it to make it easy to tempt her to the dark side. Every Jedi master who has had a padawan who has had a strong connection to the force has always been worried that their padawan will fall to the dark side… which they usually do. It also brings new meaning to her abandonment issues. I look forward to seeing if that comes into play in the next movie. To me, ep 7 is a 7/10, but it might be rated higher depending on how ep 8 & 9 fare. The first movie in a trilogy has 1 job, set everything up for the next two. If it did it’s job or not is yet to be seen.

    "Now, I’ve forgiven the world and myself, too. I teach myself to smile again. One day I’ll get there, I know I will. Even if it takes me not nine, but nine hundred lives." -Susan Ashworth from The Cat Lady

    #6038

    I honestly haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet. But let’s face it, if Rey becomes Alice from Resident Evil then we can consider her a Mary Sue.

    Seriously though, we finally have an interesting female character (as well as Leia, of course) included in the saga. I don’t want to start complaining about her just after we begged for more female characters. Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie yet. But if I see her struggle (whether emotionally or physicially), then I won’t consider her a Mary Sue.

    #6040
    Shinra Kuroki
    Shinra Kuroki
    Participant

    I honestly haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet. But let’s face it, if Rey becomes Alice from Resident Evil then we can consider her a Mary Sue.

    Seriously though, we finally have an interesting female character (as well as Leia, of course) included in the saga. I don’t want to start complaining about her just after we begged for more female characters. Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie yet. But if I see her struggle (whether emotionally or physicially), then I won’t consider her a Mary Sue.

    No character is beyond criticism. We want her to be a good character like Leia, not a forgettable Mary Sue with clearly visible Plot Armor. You do not create diversity by adding tokens, you only create the illusion of it. The fact she is a woman should never be used as a shield from criticism because I believe we should hold all characters, no matter their identity, to the same standards (just like you should do in real life).

    "Now, I’ve forgiven the world and myself, too. I teach myself to smile again. One day I’ll get there, I know I will. Even if it takes me not nine, but nine hundred lives." -Susan Ashworth from The Cat Lady

    #6043

    I’m not saying she’s beyond criticism. I’m just saying give her a chance first. Then once you opened up to her, look closer at her arc rather than her capabilities.

    #6044

    Plus here’s something Rob Walker said about this that might help. At least I think it makes sense.

    “Luke lives on a farm and picks up Jedi shit fast and blows up a goddamn Death Star. Anakin at FIVE wins a pod race and blows up a trade fed ship. But Rey is just TOO much to handle.
    Okaaaay. If they say so.
    The only difference is Rey is better in a fight. More Han Solo in nature than whiny Luke. But why wouldn’t she be? She grew up in Mad Max land. Not a moisture farm!
    Her journey is more psychological and not physical. She’s a perfect counterpoint to Ren – who is also conflicted. It’s about two prodigies squaring off. Rey runs at first. She’s unappreciated. She has leet skills but a mental block. I got the impression her force skills came bc of her exposure to Ren. Like the force feeds off itself. Synergy. And her victory was not just because she’s awesome, but because Ren was wounded and losing his shit. Both were two sides of the same coin. Feeding off each other.
    It bugs me. Cause we’ve been bitching about not having strong female characters in this series. Now we get it and people think she’s too perfect. Jesus Christ. Fine. But then admit they’ve all been from the start. It’s mythic archetypes for the kid at heart, not a Miramax film for god sakes.”

    #6045
    Shinra Kuroki
    Shinra Kuroki
    Participant

    People strong with the force tend to have enhanced agility. What they don’t get is Jedi mind trick, reverse mind read, force Pull, & force instant battle manual. Rey is a force adapt, and in the retconed extended universe, there are precedents of non-Jedi trained people manifesting force powers. Nothing on the level she did (except in unsubstantiated legends that may or may not have actually happened), but I’m getting off topic. I knew everything that was going to happen to Rey before half way through the movie. Every other character left me guessing (except Han’s fated end). The Mary Sue, though lack of flaws & substantial power, kills all tension around them. Her duel with Kylo was nice, but it wasn’t a battle, it was a light show. The movie spent most of it’s time focusing on her & she was the weakest character. The Mary Sue always lacks character, because instead of character the Sue has power. It is hard to connect with them and the best moment with Rey had was the only moment she appeared in any way, shape, or form as being human; when she has the flash back of her parents abandoning her.

    Looking at the 1/3rd of the story so far; she has no real/lasting problem, her technomancy powers are more problematic than her force powers, & Han & Lelia basically adopt her the second they set eyes on her. I don’t think empty nest syndrome works that way & the force is way creepier than I ever though it to be if it can make two grown adults basically imprint on a grown woman.

    "Now, I’ve forgiven the world and myself, too. I teach myself to smile again. One day I’ll get there, I know I will. Even if it takes me not nine, but nine hundred lives." -Susan Ashworth from The Cat Lady

    #6074

    I posted the quote because it had an interesting point about Rey’s role, about Luke and Anakin, and Star Wars archetypes in general. All the stuff about the Force in it wasn’t why I included the quote.

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