By Sydney Fromm
Leia, Padme, and now Rey—Star Wars has a long history of strong female leads regardless of the absurdity of the plot lines they are living in. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has proven to the fanboys that girls can and do love Star Wars, in fact they are the heart of the story.
We were first introduced to Princess Leia Organa of the Rebel Alliance in 1977 when she makes her debut confronting Darth Vader with the sass and confidence of intergalactic royalty. As we follow Leia and her counterparts, Luke and Han, through their journey we see Leia’s strength and determination. Leia goes through several devastating events, but she does so with strength and grace that the boys could only dream of having. Leia is intelligent, courageous, determined and extremely strong. Even after all the horrifying events she goes through, Leia battles on helping the Rebellion to overthrow the Emperor. Years after Luke, Leia and Han help save the galaxy, fans are introduced to another strong female character.
Enter, Padme Amidala. We first meet Padme as a young queen, struggling through the Trade Federation’s invasion of her planet, Naboo. Elected at a young age, Padme is an example to all the girls out in the world wondering if they could make it in the political world. Yes, Padme is fictional, but she is one of the strongest, most confident characters a girl could look up to in the prequel films. After going undercover (can she get any cooler?!) she meets young Anakin Skywalker. Struggling with her beliefs as queen and her undercover identity, Padme sees her new friend struggle through leaving his mother to become a Jedi, watching her guide and trained Jedi Knight Qui-gon Jinn killed, as well as having to break into her own palace after the Trade Federation takes over during her time undercover. Years after finishing her two terms as queen, Padme is elected Senator for Naboo. She is the outspoken critic of the creation of the Clone Army and often stands alone in her beliefs in the Galactic Senate. Padme is not only a skilled and extremely intelligent politician but she is also a skilled warrior. A scene that captures her skills and shows that she is no damsel in distress is when she, Anakin and Obi-Wan are captured and sent to death. As Anakin is confronting Obi-Wan about his concern for Padme’s escape, we see Padme pick her lock and climb to safety before Anakin has finished voicing his concerns.
Finally, we are introduced to Rey:
A desert scavenger abandoned by her family struggling to gather enough food to keep her alive. She is thrust into a world that she never dreamed of and is placed in situations that prove just how amazing our new heroine is. Audiences were prepped for Rey’s arrival in the series first with Leia and then with Padme. Despite her difficult life Rey has proved to be a gifted linguist and pilot, something that sets her apart from the other scavengers of Jakku. Rey exhibits her talent with fighting by overtaking two men nearly twice her size and then shortly after she pilots the Millennium Falcon with skill that the audience has yet to see. Rey battles through confronting the truth about her family, becoming acquainted with the galaxy and thrust into a world where she is a threat to one of the greatest villains she has yet to face.
Star Wars began its story with a strong female character and continues to provide with Rey. As her story progresses we can expect great things from our force wielding, smack talking, strong willed heroine. As fans fall in love with Rey, she provides the confidence and prompting that young women need to realize their potential and strength, not just in the fandom world, but in the real world as well.
Cover photo via deakazu, Star Wars Generations
Top right photo via deakazu, Star Wars Princess Leia General Leia
Middle left photo via Erik Maell, CVI and CVII Art Prints
Bottom center photo via heatherroonet, Rey
All images via devianart