By Rebecca Moore
"Just bring us a Jedi that is a male. It just turns into a love fest when there's a female lead."
These are just a few of many negative reactions of Star Wars "fanboys" who couldn’t bring themselves to look past Felicity Jones being a lady to appreciate how awesome Star Wars: Rouge One looks.
I must admit that my initial reaction was to tear up and point out all the times where women beat the crap out of someone in an action movie. In fact, I immediately tweeted: "'It needs some brutality' Wasn’t Finn into Rey beating two dudes up... and then smacking him with her staff?"
But then I thought for a second. I didn't want to try to win this argument. I wanted to reject the premise—that violence and aggression should be the main traits of an action lead.
Now, maybe it seems to be counter intuitive to say an action lead's primary trait should NOT be aggression, but let's look at some beloved superheroes: Captain America, Daredevil, and Superman. Of course, you may not like any of them, but based on recent success of all of their franchises, a lot of people do.
Each of these characters have some degree of powers, but what really sets them apart is not super strength or some rather impressive parkour skills, but their compassion. Anyone with a radioactive bug bite and a MMA gym membership could start beating people up, but that doesn't automatically create a character compelling enough to be a lead.
Steve Rogers defined himself when he said, "I don't want to kill anyone. I just don't like bullies." Matt Murdock has a fairly common back story, but we feel for him in season one when he takes off his mask to make sure the little boy he's saving isn't afraid. And of course Superman is a walking Boy Scout.
Now, I've seen plenty of arguments that all of these things are what make each one of them "lame" or "boring." But the reality is, our desire for unfeeling death machines is much more indicative of the ingrained concepts of masculinity rather that that actually being good writing.
In a world that is constantly pressuring men to be this pillar of testosterone and anger, seeing leads that are equally parts compassionate and capable of handling themselves in a fight is not only good for breaking up the monotony, but it's also much needed.
We need more female leads, and Star Wars is showing us how to do to do that without falling into the trope of creating a "fighting f@$! toy." Yes, I could sit and hear and talk about how Rey was a total and complete BAMF. But that's not what I love about her, and want to see in other action leads.
I want more kindness. I want more wisdom. I want more restraint. Because that is what makes a hero, and not just some idiot with a gun.
(Image taken from the "Star Wars: Rogue One" trailer)