Why the character of Finn in the new trilogy of Star Wars and The Rise of Skywalker has been used little and badly, wasting enormous potential?
Now that (finally!) The new sequel to Star Wars ended, we can (finally!) pull the strings of many things. Our Seeker S. has already expressed the opinion of the entire editorial team in his review a Skywalker's rise (you can read it Thu!).
There would be many things to add and to deepen. But for reasons of time it is almost impossible to talk extensively about all the problems and missed opportunities of the new trilogy. From the very little coherence between Abrams' and Johnson's directing, to the liberties taken with the powers of the Force and with hyperspace, this trilogy can be dismantled from almost any point of view.
I would say that, if with the canon of Star Wars no one knew what to do, at least the sequels could have focused on a good characterization of the characters. But no. All the characters, except maybe (maybe!) That of Kylo Ren, are dangerously one-dimensional, or have very little time on the screen.
Here too, there would be a great deal to say about what went wrong in the characterization of Rey, Luke and Leia, Poe, Rose, and Kylo Ren himself. However, today I will focus only on the character who, in my opinion, would have had the greatest potential of the trilogy. Yet it has also been used worse. I'm obviously talking about Finn.
So I warn you right away that this article will contain SPOILER on the whole trilogy, Skywalker's rise including.
The awakening of the Force: Finn presented as a protagonist
When The awakening of the Force was presented, on the posters was Finn the one with the lightsaber in his hand. In this film, JJ Abrams wanted to keep to the (almost) end the mystery as to who the jedi protagonist of the new trilogy was. For this reason, in the trailers he wanted to divert the fans, to make them believe that we would have a black jedi as protagonist (new!). But, when the film was shown in theaters, the truth was revealed: the protagonist was a protagonist, woman and white (however new!).
This twist and turnaround wouldn't have been a problem in itself for a character like Finn. Because, to be honest, The awakening of the Force presented us a solid character and with a unique and interesting background, with great potential.
From co-star to comic relief
First, Finn is an ex-Stormtrooper, raised by the First Order after being torn from his home. But Finn is presented as a person who does not accept that he has to kill innocent people and who wants to obtain an emancipation from the life that the First Order has imposed on him. Therefore, Finn is the first protagonist to be explicitly an ex-Imperial and a slave.
Thanks to the considerable time on the screen, in Episode VII Finn has a way of expressing his desires and fears, allowing the public to understand his personality. However, in Episode VII Finn also tends to turn out too often comic relief, with his trained Stormtrooper skills that are often put aside. One example is the fact that, on the Starkiller, he claimed to be cleaning the base.
This information, which in the context of The awakening of the Force it was meant to make the audience laugh, however it is in contrast with what is stated in the book Star Wars: Before the Awakening, released as a compendium to the film for young people.
Star Wars: Before the Awakening and Finn's background
This collection of short stories written by Grec Rucka, in fact, tells how Finn wasn't the last wheel of the wagon of the First Order, or a fish so small it is good only for cleaning toilets. On the contrary, Finn was indeed a rookie, but such a promising rookie that Phasma herself was watching him with high expectations. In fact, Finn had proven himself not only to be an excellent soldier, but also an excellent leader. His only problem, according to the First Order, was not being ruthless. I quote from the short story:
"You have great potential, 2187. You are officer corps material. Your duty is to the First Order above everything. Nothing else comes before that."
These are, in fact, the words of Captain Phasma. The difference with Finn's presentation in the film is clear: in this short story, in fact, FN-2187 is shown as a talented person. On the contrary, ne The awakening of the Force, despite the prolonged screentime, the skills that Finn should have are heavily reduced. And while as a Stormtrooper / slave FN-2187 he should obviously be ignorant of many things, about which he has been deliberately kept in the dark by his superiors, many others (especially when dealing with First Order strategies!) Finn should know a lot more. of the rebels.
So basically, ne The awakening of the Force we see a Finn presented, in the advertising campaign, as a probable protagonist. In the film then it will have very screentime and will be characterized well, showing that it has an original and interested background. But, little by little, I will be brought to cover the role of comic relief, with its reduced abilities. Let's see now what happens to Finn in Episode VIII.
The last Jedi: they don't know what to do with Finn
One of Rian Johnson's biggest problems The last Jedi is the fact that he didn't know what to do with many characters. In fact, where Johnson spent a lot of time and care on the characterization of Kylo Ren, Finn and Poe he didn't know what to do with it.
So while Poe had his time as a rebellious teenager at the age of 32, Finn earns a trip to get to know the world and "mature". Johnson's idea was to partner with Finn a rebel tried by personal loss, but still very convinced of the ideals of the Resistance, namely Rose. In their adventure in Canto Bight, Rose teaches Finn the value of believing in something and facing the First Order, by stopping being selfish and thinking only of himself. Additionally, Rose teaches Finn about the corruption of the Republic and the First Order. Thus, he shows him how the arms builders, who both serve, make use of slaves and (much more serious!) Race poor slave horses.
The big problem of Finn's journey The last Jedi it is not the fact that his mission is not successful: failure is part of life! The problem is that Finn didn't need such a trip, because these are things Finn should already know.
Involution of the character?
In Episode VIIin fact, Finn already puts aside his desire to rebuild a life as far as possible from the First Order to help the Resistance. Of course, Finn wants above all to save Rey, but we also see him form a strong bond of friendship with Poe. So, Finn, when he wakes up The last Jedi, he should have already passed his selfish moment. To take up this previous stage to create "conflict" means get the character involved.
Furthermore, there is something grotesque about teaching Finn what slavery is, because Finn, as a Stormtrooper, was de facto a slave. Finn never enrolled in the First Order, but was kidnapped from his home, deprived of his culture, his past, his family and the possibility of forging a future. Finn knows exactly what it means to be a slave, because he was. And it is no coincidence that such a character is played by a black man: Finn's slavery is a direct parallel with that of African Americans.
Denying not only Finn's evolution in Episode VII, but also his background certainly makes the character tasteless and useless. Not only is it placed on an unnecessary personal path, but it also deprives it of the breath of news that its past had brought to Star Wars. Apart from these two things, Finn has nothing else to give, and not using his background is a huge waste of narrative ideas. As we will see now, in Episode IX.
Skywalker's rise: a piece not enough for Finn
After a whole movie in which Finn was involved and unused, JJ Abrams tries to put a piece on it, but it's not enough.
Ne Skywalker's rise Finn is a convinced rebel, fully invested in the war against the First Order and again in a team with the people closest to him, namely Poe and Rey. Finn meets other ex-Stormtroopers, who like him rebelled against the First Order, refusing to kill civilians. It is even made quite explicitly that Finn is sensitive to the Force, already mentioned above The awakening of the Force.
However, Episode IX takes place over 16 hours, and the thousand things to do and the fast pace inevitably decree that no character can be fully developed. It is probably Poe who comes out best, who now has very little personal growth to do and has reached the point of being a fully realized General, albeit with his doubts and fears. Rey faces the identity crisis he was supposed to have in Episode VIII, while Kylo Ren goes back to being Ben Solo with terrible ease.
What about Finn? Here, Finn exists and does things, but even for him there is no more evolution, because the opportunities have been lost. Her bond with ex-Stormtroopers boils down to a semi-fraternal and semi-romantic relationship with the beautiful Jannah. His relationship with Rey cracks, but at the end of the games they return to friends as before without the slightest crisis, or Rey's apologies for treating him badly.
Jannah and the ex-Stormtroopers: an aborted storyline
The presence of Jannah and his ex-soldiers of the First Order who rebelled is evidently the attempt to mention the storyline that Finn should have had in Episode VIII, but which Johnson did not develop. This however makes the piece more harmful than anything else.
First, there is no time in the film to develop Jannah's character as well. The soldier is therefore two-dimensional, characterized by a photocopy of Finn's background and her loyalty to the Resistance, again a photocopy of Finn's. Therefore, it is clear that Jannah exists as an avatar of what Finn should have beenif Johnson hadn't sent him to cry over the poor slave horses. But not being able to get Finn to lead a Stormtrooper uprising, Abrams was content to put us in front of the fact already done, but by someone else.
Although this choice has the merit of bringing the theme of the slave Stormtroopers to the fore, its embryonic development makes it little more than a aborted storyline. Is sad.
Finn's potential to move the story in an original way: let's give some ideas
After this brief (?) Review of Finn's role (and non-role!) In the movies, I would like to focus more on what this character could have brought to the story.
I know that, from final of Game of Thrones, there is a lot of animosity towards those who think they are better than professional screenwriters at creating meaningful plots. However, in this case I believe that the quality of the sequel trilogy is so low that I can have my say with some confidence. That the way in which I would have developed the character of Finn does not like him is obviously legitimate.
An original background, and how to use it
First, as I said, Finn has a unique background among those presented in the films of Star Wars, being a protagonist former Imperial ed ex-slave.
We have already seen smugglers and criminals (Han, Lando, Sabine and Jyn), peasants and poor people (Luke, Cassian, Rey and Ezra), noble and rich (Leia, Bale Organa, Kazuda and Padme), soldiers (Rex and Garazeb), ex-jedi or related (Obi Wan, Kanan, Ashoka, Chirrut and Baze) and born rebels (Poe and Hera) enter the Rebellion / Resistance. We have seen slavery-born characters, such as Anakin Skywalker. And we have also seen some redeemed Imperials, such as Callus in Star Wars Rebels.
However, Finn has a background that combines the trait of the ex-Imperial with that of the ex-slave, which I think is a new combo. Also, to that effect Finn's background is the one most closely linked to the political and cultural evolution that took place in the thirty years after the defeat of the Empire. In fact, it is from his background that we discover that the First Order kidnaps his new recruits. So, Finn not only has an original background, but also a past that allows you to take advantage of the unique features (i.e. the structure of the First Order!) Of this trilogy.
The Stormtrooper revolt: an original, profound idea that uses Finn 100%
With this background, Finn could have been not only an important point of view for talking about the First Order, but he could also have given a twist to the Resistance struggle. In fact, for all three films we see the Resistance in a constantly subordinate position, snubbed by the Republic and other non-Imperial systems, and threatened by the First Order. The Resistance never manages to fill its ranks, constantly finding itself asking (in vain) for help to other free systems, finding reinforcements only at the end of Episode IX.
But rather than continuing with leitmotiv of the Resistance / Rebellion abandoned by all, why not carry on the Finn storyline and strengthen the Resistance with a Stormtrooper revolt? In fact, in the new trilogy we are faced for the first time with an army of indoctrinated slaves. Where separatist droids and Empire volunteer soldiers would never have deserted, First Order Stormtroopers, with the right reason, could instead join the Resistance.
This would not only have been an original twist, but it would have had the merit of deepening the dynamics of the First Order and using Finn 100%. In this way, Jannah could also have been introduced, but gave her more prominence and a decent storyline. Furthermore, the Stormtrooper revolt would have allowed us to tackle the issue of slavery and its effects with much more depth, without falling into useless side-quests.
Force-sensitive Finn: a wasted continuity
Recently, JJ Abrams has confirmed that Finn is sensitive to the Force. Although this feature remained largely implied in the films, in reality it could have been used much more to have interesting developments.
One of the most important messages of The last Jedi is that the Force flows in everyone. Although this information was widely known thanks to all previous films, it actually has potential. In fact, although the Jedi are an order of people specially trained to use the Force, they have never been the only ones to use it, or to perceive it. THE Lasatfor example, they have a long tradition of priests and priestesses who worship the Force, which they call Ashla. Even the Witches of Dathomir they have an ancient tradition in the use of the Force, and not always ascribable to the Light Side, as seen with Asaji Ventress. But also people like Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus, monks belonging to the Guardians of the Whill in Rogue One, are sensitive to the Force, although they do not have the typical control of the Jedi.
So, the fact that the Force is perceptible and usable (with its limitations!) Even by non-Jedi would have been an interesting concept to explore in the new trilogy. Mostly, it would have been helpful to understand how Jedi and other Force-sensitive people would coexist after the fall of Luke's Jedi Order. After all, if old traditions continue to perish, we might as well start another! However, the new trilogy is torn between Johnson's idea of ending the Jedi and their elitist thinking, and that of Abrams, who wants to revive the Jedi for thenostalgia effect. For this, Skywalker's rise gives no answers as to what Rey will do in the future.
In this sense, however, developing sensitivity to Finn's Force would have been a good idea. Indeed, not only would this have connected the new trilogy with other canonical examples of Force-sensitive, such as those mentioned above Star Wars Rebels, Clone Wars e Rogue One. But moreover it would have allowed us to better develop Johnson's idea of focusing on the universality of the Force. In this way, in fact, Finn and Rey could have interacted on a more equal level, understanding the Force together and possibly creating a new type of Jedi Order.
The theme of slavery: a necessary deepening
How high Star Wars there has been talk of slavery quite often, with the whole The phantom menace dedicated to the release of Anakin and several episodes of Clone Wars dedicated, we still lack a character who tackles this issue in depth.
In fact, although Anakin's past is important for his characterization, the future Darth Vader is presented much more as a rebellious Jedi than as an ex-slave. With Finn, on the other hand, the issue of release from slavery.
First, by confronting Rey and Rose, Finn could have been a champion not only for the liberation of the Stormtroopers, but also of all other slaves tolerated by the Republic. After all, the fact that the Jedi themselves tolerated that slavery could exist under the Hutts had made many turn their noses, as it helped to give the impression that the Jedi were more loyal to the Republic than to their own ideals. Tackling this problem by taking a cue from Finn's experience would have made it much less dispersed the tirade on the slaves.
Also, it could have been interesting if, in Episode IX, Finn and the other released Stormtroopers had searched for its origins. Thus, they would have recovered new forces for the Resistance precisely from the peoples brutalized by the First Order. Also, this way we wouldn't have had the terrible scene between Finn and Rey, in which Rey accuses him of not knowing her. In fact, if there is one person who can understand Rey's pain in not knowing her past and her origins, it's Finn.
Finn is the most wasted character in the whole sequel trilogy
In conclusion of this long article, I hope it is now clear why, in my opinion, Finn was a character with enormous potential, but extremely underdeveloped. I wrote this article because I see too often Finn downgraded to useless character, without reading how Finn is a wasted character.
Finn has the most interesting background of the sequels and had the greatest chance for constructive growth and impact on the story. With Finn we could have had original, interesting storylines, and at the same time consistent with the story and the canon of Star Wars.
But above all, in this way Finn could have been something more than the black share of the films, maintaining its co-starring role. Role that, in his hand, would have been much more interesting than that given to Kylo Ren. In fact, unfortunately, the fall on the Dark Side of Kylo Ren and the subsequent conversion to the Light Side of Ben Solo are governed by very weak and hasty developments and justifications.
Ultimately, Finn was never a useless character, nor an uninteresting one. He could even count on John Boyega, who is an excellent actor. Finn's problem is that no one really wanted to use what his character had to offer, making him seriously a co-star. After very high initial expectations and seeing Finn downgraded to a useless supporting actor, Boyega certainly complained!
With Finn and all its wasted potential, Lucasfilm and Disney reconfirmed that they created a trilogy of untapped opportunities. Too bad that many people, instead of taking it out on screenwriters who wasted interesting storylines, insult Finn's character for free.
With this article, however, I want to raise a voice in defense of Finn: you could have been a great character. And I'm sorry that this trilogy has treated you so badly.