Whereas the entire world fell in love with her character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film seems to have left her adrift amidst the (far from subtle) questions about the identity of her parents. Still, by leaving her on the Irish Isle of La Luke, the film’s finale leaves us with what seemed to be much more important questions. Will Luke train her in the ways of the Force? Is she more powerful than the young and reckless Kylo Ren?
Then, with the release of the trailer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last week, all of a sudden the issue of her mysterious origins was back in the spotlight once again. Taking place during the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Rogue One tells the story of a group of expendable crooks and smugglers who are enlisted to steal the Death Star plans. (Think of it as the Star Wars equivalent to David Ayer’s upcoming film, Suicide Squad.) Led by Jyn Erso, a young woman with a troubled past, they band together to do the impossible.
While Rogue One doesn’t appear to address Rey’s journey at all, an interesting fan theory has taken the Internet by storm. Despite the unconnected storyline to Force Awakens, the web is abuzz with the rumour that Erso is, in fact, Rey’s mother. Recently, actress Daisy Ridley spoke out against this theory, claiming that “just because she’s white and has brown hair, it doesn’t mean she’s [Rey’s] mom.”
To be honest, I find it amazing that this mystery has lasted as long as it has. With the reveal of [Spoiler Alert… from 30 years ago!] Darth Vader as Luke’s father catching audiences completely by surprise (and believed by many as one of the greatest ‘twists’ of all time), the Star Wars universe carved out its place in storytelling history. Still, that era of filmmaking existed apart from the spoiler-driven internet culture in which we currently live. In this day and age, even if you have a great plot twist, it’s likely that someone somewhere has not only thought of it already, they’ve blogged about it online and sent the legions of inter-webbers into a frenzy. Gone are the days when a film’s surprises were special until it’s release.
We want to know everything… now.
Living in the information age, we seem to have lost the joy and the impact of experiencing the elements of a story together for the first time. We want to burst the balloon of mystery before it ever gets a chance to lift off.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. In all seriousness, we are constantly being teased with tidbits to generate excitement and promotion for upcoming films and shows. Remember when the pic of the partial Millennium Falcon and X-Wing went viral during the filming of Force Awakens? There’s no doubt that that pic was released in order to send a message to the fans that their expectations were going to be met with the new film. New characters? Sure… but you’ll fall in love with them. What matters most is that we’re also going to resurrect the things you miss and love the most.
For the fans, it was intoxicating.
Still, while part of this is just plain fun to discuss, I also think that our spoiler-focused culture makes it far more difficult for a filmmaker to tell the story their way. Our desire to know the answer immediately—sometimes before the question is even asked—creates an environment that puts an emphasis on ourselves, rather than on the story itself.
We want to know everything because we feel like we own the story. It’s our story.
But what if it isn’t?
What if the true power of story is admitting to ourselves that it’s bigger than we are? While we may like/dislike a film, there’s something to be said for admitting that we don’t need to know or understand every detail in advance. In doing so, we are most suited to become participants in a story, making it more powerful. As a Christian, I recognize that God is a better storyteller than I could ever be… and, if I trust that, I don’t need to know what’s coming.
So, Internet fans, by all means, feel free to have your fun. But remember that, whether or not Rey’s last name is Skywalker, Solo or even Snopes, it doesn’t matter in the end. Let’s let them tell us the story they want to, demanding it a certain way.
The story may even be more powerful that way.