Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set up a young woman, Rey (Daisy Ridley), as the savior of the galaxy far far away. She never doubts herself. She can handle herself. She’s not passive. She is a natural leader. She is competent and capable but also recognizes that she has so much to learn. She represents strength and power without limitations and apologies.
The movie also gifted us with General Leia (Carrie Fisher). She is a stronger matriarchal figure now, a standout symbol of power and wisdom.
The movie also gifted us with Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie.). commanding storm troopers.
It felt good and long overdue.
Finn (John Boyega) is visibly moved by his compatriot’s death, by violence and aggression and by the murder of civilians and innocents. He’s clearly rattled and traumatized by his experience. He looks out for himself, but not at the expense of others. He respects Rey’s decisions and her autonomy. After decades of stereotypical aggressive and misogynistic black men in fiction, Finn is a breath of fresh air.
“People of colour and women are increasingly being shown on-screen. For things to be whitewashed just doesn’t make sense.” – John Boyega
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is incredibly open with his emotions. He is loyal and affectionate towards his droid BB-8. He shows unabashed delight at the survival of his friends. He gives full credit where it is deserved and is pleased with the success of others. He is an impressive pilot, but he doesn’t draw attention to himself unnecessarily.
Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is invested in parenthood. He meets his son and goes to his death with love, with kindness and forgiveness. His last gesture is to touch his son’s face demonstrating genuine physical affection and vulnerability even in the face of violence and betrayal.
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s arc and his struggles to conform to the dark ways of the Force are a metaphor for the toll of toxic masculinity. He is constantly hung up on performing and proving himself strong enough.