WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters now.
Rey's character is meaningful for many Star Wars fans, especially girls. A woman who’s the hero of multiple films gives girls the representation they so desperately need in the fandoms they love. Upon The Force Awakens’ release, there was controversy around whether or not Rey was a Mary Sue – a general term for a female character that’s poorly developed because she’s too good at everything she does. As Mary Poppins would say, she’s practically perfect in every way.
This criticism of Rey ignores the fact that all of the heroes of the Star Wars trilogies, Anakin and Luke, have been “Force-sensitive” like her, and could thus naturally pick up Jedi skills. Baby Anakin in The Phantom Menace could fly a speeder using his instincts and proclivity for fixing machines. Babyfaced Luke Skywalker in A New Hope was an excellent pilot like his father, and he picks up Jedi training easily under Obi-Wan's tutelage aboard the Millennium Falcon. While the Force-sensitive trait has led to some questionable storytelling choices (such as General Organa flying through space), it's what we point to when we discuss Anakin and Luke’s abilities.
Anakin, Luke and Rey have natural abilities, sure, but what’s also been largely ignored is that Rey had to develop these skills on Jakku to survive. If she didn’t learn how to scavenge and protect herself using fighting skills, she would have died long before she met Finn. The quick labeling of Rey as a Mary Sue, coupled with the refusal to acknowledge Rey’s Force-sensitivity and her need to acquire these skills that are apparently “too good,” leads back to one thing: Sexism. Too many fans are quick to suspend their belief when it comes to male characters, but not to female ones.
The latest Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, features a character that is a bit too good at everything, but it’s not a female character! Han Solo, beloved scoundrel of the Star Wars universe is what we call a Marty Stu.
In the first scene of the film on Corellia, Han shows his skills that will later aid him in smuggling: he can hotwire a speeder, and he flies one pretty decently. That is, until the speeder gets stuck. His ability to hotwire actually makes sense. Growing up on a shipbuilding world with intense criminal activity means that Han would have needed to pick up the ability to hotwire and fly a speeder for the jobs he takes for Lady Proxima. He’s not a Marty Stu quite yet.
Out of options, Han enlists for the Empire’s infantry, and it’s stated that two years have passed before we see him again fighting in boots on the ground combat. He tries to sell himself as “the best pilot” to the Empire’s higher-ups, but they don’t believe him, and really, neither do we. Not yet. We haven’t seen him fly a ship. In the two years he was training with the Empire, he was obviously not chosen to be a pilot or he would have been flying in that battle scene. No one takes him seriously when he repeats that he’s a great pilot.
Rather than the Force, Han’s primary talent is pluck – he is his own hype man. Han’s confidence in himself is unshakeable. Instead of using the Force, he seems to be a practitioner of The Secret. Because he repeats to himself and others that he’s the best pilot, he essentially speaks it into being.
Now, let’s talk about that Kessel Run scene.