Easily the best thing about this new Star Wars trilogy is our new hero, Rey, and the praise for both her and Daisy Ridley is flooding in. While not the straight-up leads of the film, the rest of the new trio, Finn and Poe, are almost just as great. (Almost.) The Force Awakens is headed by three amazing newbies, each of which a character for young kids to look up to and want to emulate.
Sure, Rey is a hero for all genders, but let’s not kid ourselves: children aren’t stupid. Little girls notice the distinct lack of leading ladies in cool roles, and Rey is someone that they can finally pretend to be in the playground without having to be “Ara, daughter of Aragorn”. She is finally theirs.
Everyone can love her and look up to her, but she is most of all for all those little girls who have been needing a girl leading Star Wars since forever ago. That, of course, is a post for another time.
Finn and Poe, similarly, are heroes for everyone of any gender, but they are also wonderful examples for young boys to emulate. Where Poe could have been a Han or Anakin-esque cocky pilot with a little too much arrogance, he is instead a genuinely, confidently sweet guy. Finn, raised as a Stormtrooper in the First Order, is similarly sweet, with a big heart and an overflow of empathy.
They are both truly good guys in a real world where not-so-great guys are often the leads of stories; the vengeful, the jealous, the quietly angry, the romanticized abusive, and the straight up gruff. The fact that so many expected Poe to be more Han Solo-like than Luke-like, and were shocked by his kindness towards Finn and BB-8 goes to show what we, as an audience, expect from male characters in the media we consume.
I’m okay with being surprised like this, with falling so utterly in love with Finn and Poe in a way I never really have with any male characters before. There’s something so clearly pure-hearted about both of these characters, in the way Finn takes Rey’s hand to run, in the way Poe’s face lights up when he sees his little buddy of an astromech speeding back to him.
These characters and their portrayals by John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are so important because they are fiercely loyal, empathetic, and, in Finn’s case, do what they know is good despite initial fear. Finn is selfish, sure, but he wants so much to protect Rey, a friend he has only just made. His heart is so open, so ready to love people despite his training.
Instead of young boys seeing men who hide their emotions behind humour and confidence, they’re seeing two main characters who show their feelings so clearly on their faces and in their voices. They’re still both hilarious, and Poe is still damn awesome pilot we all expected, but there is so much more to them than that.
In the same way that boys can look up to Rey and see a talented, endearing, determined girl rule the screen, they can also see massively positive attributes in characters of their own gender that they may identify with. The same goes for all genders! Everyone can be inspired by a character, and gender shouldn’t really matter, but in our society it unfortunately often does.
The entire new lead trio of this new trilogy is everything this fandom has been needing for a long time. Rey is everything I could have hoped for and more, and I never once had a single worry about loving her character. Poe and Finn, on the other hand, had to work their way into my heart, but they have absolutely done it. There could not be a more perfect trio to take the Star Wars reigns.