J.J. Abrams Explains Why 'Star Wars' Needs Rey

by Mary Grace Garis

Although we should really be past the point where we're asking why Abrams made the main Force Awakens character female, we finally have an answer, and it's a good one. As it turns out, Abrams wanted to break up the boys' club that is the Star Wars universe. "Star Wars was always a boys' thing and a movie that dads take their sons to, and, though that's still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well," Abrams explained on Good Morning America Monday. And that's a splendid start to all the reasons why Star Wars should've had a female protagonist forever ago.

And, with all the love in the world to Princess Leia, I really mean a dominant female protagonist. Within the first trilogy, we end up following Luke Skywalker's journey from farm boy to Jedi, and, in the second trilogy, we find out how Anakin Skywalker became a slave to the dark side. And ,while Ma and Sister Skywalker are in these tales, they have to take a seat back to let their blonder, male relatives have all the fun. Force Awakens will give us our first female protagonist who is also the main character, rather than just being a main character, and I've needed this for the many, many years I've been a fan of the franchise.

I'm pro-female protagonist for Star Wars, and you should be, too. In fact, let's just run through a few more reasons that we're ready to receive Rey into the Star Wars family with open arms.

1. There's Only Been, Like, One Woman In The Entire Galaxy

At least, one woman per trilogy with a name and speaking role. Rey's presence alongside Leia and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o pushes this to three right from the start, and I'm so here for this.

2. And That Woman Was Always A Secondary Main Character

Leia starts out as strong and feisty hero material, but the spotlight shifts more and more to Luke as time goes on. Meanwhile, Padme goes from queen to senator to dying mother throughout her story's arc. It's not that I don't anticipate some romantic subplot within this new trilogy, but I think keeping Rey front and center will keep that subplot from swallowing her main plot.

3. There Aren't Enough Girls Engaging In Jedi Combat These Days

Listen, we don't really know Rey's endgame. So fair, Finn is the one wielding a light saber. Still, Rey seems to be a formidable fighter, and I think that'll eventually encourage little girls to stand up for themselves. (I may or may not have been told "girls can't be Jedis" while my brother and his friend would beat each other with plastic light sabers. So, I really want to be able to point to Rey and go, "You were saying?!")

4. More Girls, More Sales

Star Wars has long been one of the most merchandise-able franchises in history, and having a female that the helm means that girls will gladly pick up a Rey action figure to play along. I hate to put any focus on money, but the fact that people had to ask for a Black Widow Avengers doll kind of says to me that someone somewhere doesn't think female characters, or their action figures, can be marketable.

5. The Force Should Be Gender Inclusive

Allegedly, the Force runs through Leia's veins and all. We never see it, though, so let's change that. Force for everyone!

6. Honestly, Don't We Have Enough Male-Fronted Movies To Begin With?

Usually, the story being told in modern cinema is that of a man, and, even though we've been getting several amazing female-led movies such as Pitch Perfect 2, Gone Girl, or Our Brand Is Crisis, we're nowhere close to closing that gap.

7. But More Than Anything, Having A Lady Front One The Most Powerful Movie Franchises In The World Is A Bold Power Move... For Star Wars, And For Women

The main takeaway is that placing a girl as the protagonist is, I'm sad to say, a great way to peak interest. "Why is a girl leading Star Wars?" "Um, why not?" It's a great way to begin (and stress on begin) to level out a male-dominated genre, and a male-dominated series. It changes the game and encourages others to play along. And, ultimately, it works to empower a generation of girls who will never be told that they can't be a Jedi. Thank you, Disney and J.J. Abrams.

Images: Disney; Giphy (8)