Over the last two years, there have been a lot of fan theories about the true origins of Rey, the scavenger from Jakku we all met in The Force Awakens. There were also a lot of discussions between fans about the various signs that seemed to indicate her relation to many of the Original Trilogy heroes (and even to the villains). However, we received a shocking revelation from Ben Solo himself (if Rey calls him Ben, I refuse to call him anything else myself) regarding her origins in the junkyards of Jakku…
Apparently, Rey was the daughter of two good-for-nothing junk traders who sold her to the despicable Unkar Plutt, allegedly, for drinking money. Some of the more contumacious fans that were attached to a certain theory are still in denial – speculating that the revelation was just an outright lie from the new Supreme Leader of the First Order to diminish the character of our heroine and convince her to join him. Sometimes I wonder if it was the same question fans made to themselves after watching The Empire Strikes Back about the revelation Vader made to Luke – was he lying to lure him into the dark side? And it might well be the case – depending on what JJ Abrams decides for Episode IX, but so far, it makes sense that Rey is unrelated to any known character (at least that’s how Rian Johnson sees it).
Why? Because so far, the choices our heroes in the Star Wars universe have made have turned out to be way more important than their lineage or their abilities. For example, let’s think of what Ezra Bridger (from Star Wars: Rebels) asks Princess Leia in the Season 2 episode “A Princess on Lothal”: “You’re a princess. You don’t have to risk your life doing this.” And she replies to him: “I feel like because I can fight, I have to for those who cannot. And I think you might be the same way”. So Princess Leia, even before we found out she was Luke’s sister and part of the Skywalker family, was special not because of her bloodline or her lineage, but because of her choices. And if you think about it, the same happens with all of our heroes, the old and the new; they are special and important because of their actions and their choices.
Some people argue that by doing this, leaving the Skywalker family out of the central focus of the saga in the new trilogy, the original vision of George Lucas is being betrayed. But I just think of the original drafts and the last-minute choice of making Leia Luke’s twin sister. If we want to talk about an original vision, the one that comes across on screen is simply this: ordinary people from different backgrounds (and species) can make a difference. If we look back at that Throne Room scene, we were celebrating that individuals as different as a Corellian smuggler, his Wookiee co-pilot, a farm boy from Tatooine and an Alderaanian princess saved the fate of the Rebellion helped by two droids and the sacrifice of a Jedi Knight.
But I can understand the obsession regarding the concoction of elaborated theories on how it’s possible that Rey might be the daughter of any of our beloved heroes, because in the beginning I was part of that trend. I would read the signs – or try to find any signs at all – on any piece of canon media I could get my hands on. But at one point, I realized that having Rey as a character who is not part of anyone’s legacy is such a great message for all of us.
Our heroes are important not because of who they are or a certain birthright they might possess: they are important for the choices they made to fight towards peace and justice for the galaxy. Compared to other sagas (like Game of Thrones, big fan here!) where we might care a lot about Houses, their allegiances and bloodlines, even then, there is a shared belief of the weight of our actions taken vs. where we come from. That’s why when J.K. Rowling mentions in the Harry Potter saga that it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
In this case, we could even add origins as well as another factor not as important as our own choices on defining who we are. Even what we heard from Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens expresses it clearer: “The belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead.” That’s a common motif on these sagas: a shared perception on how individuals often face significant conflict in the inside on their learning path towards finding their true self. And who we really are has a lot to do with the choices we make. No matter if you are a pilot born to a family of Rebels, a former Stormtrooper, a scavenger from nowhere or a broom boy from Canto Bight.
Maybe that is why George Lucas designed the Jedi Order that we know from the prequels: an organization formed by individuals from all across the Republic where admission was granted not on grounds of birthright, species or planet of origin – it was done based on Force-sensitivity. So at one point – the legacy or the origins of any member was not important – rather, it was one’s deeds and achievements that made them a vital part of the order. This is something we can also get from The Clone Wars animated series, where we had all these clones made from a bounty hunter: physically identical soldiers created with the same genetic code and made just with the sole purpose of fighting as part of the Grand Army of the Republic, but even so, we had great examples of individual heroism in clones like Gregor, Fives or Rex who broke the very mold of who they were designed to be.
Perhaps it will make more sense when we see the conclusion of this trilogy, but from a certain point of view, it makes sense that Rey is a hero in her own right, rather than based on her ties to any of our well-known and beloved heroes in the Star Wars universe.