Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

I imagine most of you have seen Rogue One by now. If not, do not read further as there will be spoilers included. And if you have, then welcome, Fellow Star Wars Fan. We are forever changed after seeing that film.

There is so much to say on the subject of Rogue One, I have several articles waiting in the wings, but for now, I would like to focus on the titular character of the movie:

Jyn Erso.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) joined the annals of Star Wars history as yet another deserving Star Wars leading lady. She owned her role beautifully and brought a level of human authenticity to the Star Wars world that was unlike anything I have yet seen. Not to say that the other Star Wars leading ladies have failed, quite the contrary, but their stories and roles are drastically different from Jyn’s.

Rogue One was such a raw and personal movie that it was only going to succeed if it’s characters were equally raw and personal. Jyn had a brief, but fiercely important role to play in the timeline of Star Wars. And because she played that role so well, she will never be forgotten.

I want to share a few specific things I found deeply attractive about this character, and why I am adding her to my list of real women in cinema.

1. She was scared.

Based upon earlier trailers for Rogue One, I was not at all looking forward to Jyn’s character. To me, she came across as untouchable and sarcastic. In fact, before the re-shoots, I have a feeling that may be closer to Jyn’s original portrayal. But more on that another day.

When the final trailer came out I was delighted to see that she actually appeared to be far more human than I had first believed.

My secondary impression was correct. We first meet Jyn as an innocent child, yet another victim of the Empire’s cruelty that robs her of both her mother and father. She’s a sweet little girl with braids and a stuffed doll that she drops when fleeing the Storm troopers.

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As a young woman, you can still see that haunted and frightened look of a child in her huge eyes. She doesn’t walk around with a chip on her shoulder and an exaggerated swagger (she’s no Solo after all). Instead she goes through life with her head down and keeps running. Even when she is “rescued” by the rebels she attempts to flee. Her fighting reactions are that of a cornered animal rather than a fierce warrior.

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To me, this is far more accurate than if they had made Jyn some fierce and untouchable warrior. She has quite obviously gone through terrifying things, and she just wants to feel safe. She just wants her daddy back. Is there anything more human than that?

2. She was compassionate

One of my absolute favorite moments in this entire movie was when Jyn saves the little girl during the raid in Jedha. She looked at that child and saw herself, and despite the fact that she has a huge survivor’s instinct, her instinct to protect that baby was stronger. Cassian tries to call her back, but she ignores him and runs into the crossfire. She scoops up the terrified little lady and returns her safely to her mama.  As much as that moment frustrated Cassian, he was also deeply attracted to it. Compassion is a rare quality, but it’s also one of the most alluring.

Jyn’s compassion extended further when she learned the truth about the Death Star and was given the information about how to destroy it. Her earlier instinct to get in, get out, and survive is once more overridden by her desire to protect others. Jyn’s heart for others is even bigger than her beautiful eyes. These moments were a beautiful illumination of her true heart, and made her an unforgettable character.

3. She was hopeful

Hope, like compassion, is a rare quality. Jyn has a lot of reasons to stop hoping. She has been haunted and hunted by the Empire since childhood. They have taken everything from her and millions of others in the galaxy. She could just throw her hands up in despair, but instead, she chooses to grab onto hope and charge into battle with it.

Cassian was raised his entire life in this Rebellion. He’s used to sleepless nights, long odds, and big regrets. He doesn’t give up, and yet, even he seems to be awakened in a new way by Jyn’s hope and determination. Jyn’s sweet little quotation during the Rebel council,

“Rebellions are built on hope,”

was actually his original statement. And yet, Cassian’s reaction to her hopeful initiative is like someone coming alive again. It’s as if he is hearing that concept in a completely new, and reachable way. He is going into battle with a fresh countenance and renewed sense of purpose that only Jyn was able to awaken.

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Hopeful people heal and rally those around them. Hope is like an infectious disease, it cannot help but spread. Jyn’s hope was beautiful and rejuvenating. She rallied an entire organization, a group of incredible and effective individuals around her because of her hope and determination. I have a hard time believing a jaded and sarcastic character would have been nearly as effective.

4. She was beautiful and ladylike

Despite the fact that Jyn was in one, practical outfit, went through multiple battles, killed storm troopers, climbed towers, and did a million other “dirty” things, she was such a lady. Being termed a lady has nothing to do with keeping your clothes clean or staying out of harm’s way, it is an overall bearing and way of carrying yourself in any situation.

Jyn felt so feminine to me. She wasn’t seductive once, she didn’t try to gain attention for herself, she didn’t constantly have to advertise how smart and capable she was. And yet, by the end of the movie during that dreadful and wonderful beach scene, you could see in Cassian’s eyes how much he loved her.

She was not unnecessarily crass and she wasn’t hardened and bitter. She was strong and tender.

Jyn was so, so beautiful. Her beautiful heart and wonderful character came out and clothed her as brilliantly as if she had been a member of Princess Leia’s court. Her daddy’s sweet nick-name Stardust was perfect for this lovely girl, for she sparkled and cast light like a beautiful star.

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*****

I loved the character work done with many of the characters in this beautiful and heartbreaking film, and Jyn was one of the finest. Gareth Edwards and Felicity Jones can be proud of what they accomplished with her, she was a wonderful character to grace the screen and I hope we have the privilege of seeing many more women like her in the future.

As I said above, I have more Rogue One articles waiting in the wings. I would love to hear from you all as well. What did you love about the movie? Did you love Jyn Erso as much as I did? What is one thing you thought they incredibly well?

Like Star Wars? Here are a few more articles you might find interesting.

5 Reasons Why Finn Is Still Going to Be a Jedi

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

Why Ezra Bridger Will Ultimately Choose the Light Side

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Why Ezra Bridger Will Ultimately Choose the Light Side

Season 3 of Rebels is only 2 days away!

Season 2 wrapped up with a show-stopper finale that left us with so many questions and very few answers.

Is Kanan blind for life?

Is Ahsoka truly alive after her duel with Darth Vader and will we ever see her again?

But I think the biggest question on everyone’s mind is….

….will Ezra turn to the Dark Side?

Our last shot in the Season 2 finale was of Ezra Bridger seated alone in his room, full of anger and sorrow. As he sat there, the Sith holocron he collected at the Sith temple opened in his hand, a sign that he had tapped into the Dark Side of the Force. And, for just a moment, his eyes had glowed orange.

Ezra has been a volatile member of the Force wielders since the beginning. His biggest moments and steps forward often come piggybacked on intense emotions. Ezra himself is a person who feels things very deeply. When he loves, he overcomes any obstacle to fight for his loved ones. And when he is angry,  he becomes an almost unstoppable force. Ezra is also fiercely protective, he hates seeing the innocent suffer and he wants to protect all those he loves from harm.

Darth Maul definitely manipulated Ezra’s fierce emotions during their shared time in the Sith Temple. Maul senses in Ezra a powerful Force user, one that Maul would like to use for his own agenda. Ezra showed some pretty concerning signs by tapping into his anger, sorrow, and hate to accomplish things while he was in the temple. There is no doubt that he was beginning to toy around with the Dark Side.

Still, here is my biggest question.

Is all of that enough to truly turn Ezra to the Dark Side?

And to that, I would say….

….no, it isn’t.

Here’s why.

1. Ezra’s No Anakin Skywalker

Anakin Skywalker is everyone’s go-to guy when it comes to an example of someone turning to the Dark Side. Well, of course he is! He is actually the only main hero-turned-villain that we have ever experienced. However, Anakin’s story has led to some over-generalized statements and black and white beliefs about how you turn to the Dark Side that simply don’t add up with regular human, or alien nature.

Yoda anger GIF - Yoda anger hate GIFs

This is probably the most over-used and wrongly applied statement in Star Wars history. In this scene, Yoda was speaking about what he sensed in young Anakin Skywalker, a specific person. He sensed much fear. Yoda was concerned about where Anakin’s unstable soul might lead as he grew in the Force. There is a downhill pattern created by continual choices made out of fear, anger, and hate. And the consequences of those poor choices always leads to suffering. I don’t deny any of that, what I take issue with is applying the one situation and character to every new character who hyperspeeds onto our screen.

We all know what happened to Anakin Skywalker. He was volatile and reckless, he gave into fear, hate, thirsted greedily for control, and he hurt the ones he “loved”. Anakin came up against the hardships of life and he chose the Dark Side to fix them instead of clinging to the Light.

People pull the above quote and Anakin’s story out of the hat every time a good Force-wielding character shows any hint of anger or poor decision making. But that’s not very realistic, nor does it fit into this larger story and huge cast of characters we have been introduced to. The only character we have thus far seen this apply to would be Anakin himself.

Despite the fact that Star Wars is a galaxy far, far away, a place full of strange worlds and species, it is still a story that reflects our reality. Every great story has to reflect our reality in order to make sense in our minds, if it doesn’t, we reject it because we know that things don’t add up. I know for a fact that I don’t become a serial killer every time I get angry and react; so why is it assumed that will happen to any Force-wielding hero who gets angry and reacts in the Star Wars world?

People in reality feel things. We feel sad, we get angry, we face fear. We loved people, we lose people. Hardships and experiences change us. We go through times of triumph, and times of trial. Some of us wander but are eventually brought home to the Light again. Some of us give into the Dark Side and never come home.

We make good choices, we make poor choices. We face the consequences for both. We are regularly faced with a question of, “Who am I and how am I going to live my life?”

This is our reality, and since Star Wars must reflect our reality, that means it is also Ezra Bridger’s reality. And if the makers of Rebels understand that as well as I hope they do, then they know Ezra Bridger is no Anakin Skywalker, he is his own person.

Ezra Bridger is on a journey. He has had people come and go in his life. He has loved and he has lost. He has been frightened, angry, devastated, happy, and he knows what it means to love and be loved. Ezra is us, a person trying to navigate life in a scary world, where the Light and the Dark sides are both pulling at him.

Anakin Skywalker lived his story and made his choices, for better and certainly for worse. He chose wrong for the majority of his life. But his pattern doesn’t instantly become every other character’s. Let Anakin Skywalker be, Ezra Bridger is no Darth Vader.

2. Anakin Was Easily Seduced Because He Was Alone, Ezra Is Not Alone

“I know you have to go, but that doesn’t mean you have to go alone.” (Kanan)

“We support you. We’re family.” (Hera, Season 2, Ep 11)

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, Rebels has a family structure. Our characters are not isolated and alone, they are not left vulnerable. Those who are alone are more susceptible to deception.

Palpantine preyed upon Anakin’s sense of fear, lack of control, and isolation. He made Anakin feel safe and in control, two things he had always craved. Obi-Wan Kenobi was Anakin’s strongest support, but he was absent on the day that Anakin really needed backup the most. I believe had Obi-Wan been there the day that Palpantine turned the tables, Anakin wouldn’t have given into the Dark Side.

But instead, Anakin was alone. He was frightened, he was angry, and he craved power. And he was seduced.

Ezra spent several years of his life alone on the streets of Lothal. He shares the characteristics of Anakin in that he has felt isolated. However, Ezra is now a part of a family who will never let him go. They are his greatest strength and his greatest allies. When one member of the family falls down, the others crowd in to carry that person through.

ezras-support

Ezra may wander, he may struggle, but he will never be lost. His family will not lose him. The power of the Dark Side pales in comparison to the power of their family bond.

3. There is No Room For Family In the Dark Side

Family is everything to Ezra. It matters the most to him. The Dark Side is no place for family, it has no room for love, compassion, and unity. Even if Ezra is drawn in somewhat by the illusion that he can have greater power by using the Dark Side, he will eventually be repelled by the fact that the Dark Side comes in conflict with the thing that matters to the most to him….his family.

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“I already lost my parents, I’m not about to lose my new family.” Ezra (Season 1, Ep 13)

4. Ezra’s Legacy IS One of Hope

From childhood on, Ezra has been surrounded by hopeful and good people who are willing to stand up for what they believe it. It began with his parents, who would broadcast messages of hope and resistance to the desperate people on Lothal.

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Ezra was bitter and angry about his parents’ disappearance for a long time, but truly, deep down, he was just heartbroken. He loved his parents so much, he loved their courage and their hope. The Bridgers planted a seed in Ezra’s heart that took root and the finally bloomed when he met the crew of The Ghost.

“What’s wrong with us?” Ezra 

“We have hope; hope that things can get better. And they will.” Hera (Season 1, Ep 10_

Even after learning about the death of his parents, Ezra’s hope shone out like a lightsaber. He no longer carries their memory with regret and sorrow, he now sees the beautiful legacy that they have left him. It is a legacy of hope.

There is no room in the Dark Side for hope, it chokes the life out of anything beautiful and hopeful. Hope is who Ezra Bridger is, who he was made to be. From the moment he was born he has been surrounded by people of hope.

Ezra may have forgotten that part of who he is for a short time. I think at one time or another we all forget who we are when the pain and anger gets strong. But, those who are lost are often brought home again, especially when they are surrounded with the people they love.

Ezra has a wonderful family who will not let him forget who he is. Ezra’s family is everything to him. He will wander, but he will come home again.

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Ezra is going through a difficult time right now, no doubt about it. His soul is weary and his heart is torn. He has made some poor choices and some mistakes.

However, he still carries a huge heart of compassion, a sense of right and wrong, and a deep desire to do good. Ezra has grown into a very self-sacrificing person during his time with the Rebels. None of these characteristics fit into the Dark Side, they are the complete opposites.

Ezra Bridger is a hero. Like all heroes he will struggle, he will be tempted, and he will make wrong choices. He wouldn’t be a realistic hero if he didn’t experience those things.

But he also wouldn’t remain a hero, if the Light didn’t ultimately prevail.

ezra-bridger-hero

 

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

Both Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars The Clone Wars have been a wonderful addition to the Star Wars canon. Making serial stories for the small screen has enabled Star Wars storytellers and fans to dig into some of the meaty details and behind-the-scenes plots that just cannot fit into a 2-and-a-half hour movie time.

The Clone Wars took on the great task of filling in the very rich and colorful background that we were given only a taste of in the Prequel films. The world that Anakin experienced as a boy and Jedi was far richer than was the world of Luke Skywalker. The movies only had time to skim the surface of all of this material, but in The Clone Wars we were given a chance to experience this vast world on a episode by episode basis.

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We learned about the clones, senators and rulers, the underworld of Corusant, smugglers and bounty hunters, many different Jedi, and multiple unique races and cultures. Clone Wars gave so much more meaning to the Prequels by filling in  the background and giving us all of the individual stories that fed into the bigger story.

Star Wars Rebels is another great gift to the Star Wars universe, but it is a gift uniquely its own. Here are 6 ways that Rebels is different from The Clone Wars.

1. Rebels Keeps it Simple and Intimate

The Clone Wars was layered and complex. Even though we had a primary group of characters (Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Padme, Captain Rex), we were introduced to literally hundreds of new characters and story lines, and we only got a fraction of the available stories. The Clone Wars was a very busy series.

Rebels by contrast, is very simple and intimate. We have 6 main characters (Hera, Kanan, Zeb, Sabine, Ezra, Chopper) that we stay with all the time. Even our cast of background characters (Ahsoka, Kallus, Rex, Commander Sato) is kept to the minimum. This enables us to just focus on our Rebels, day in and day out. We see everything through their eyes and perspective.

rebels

The Empire destroyed the connections and layers of the Republic. It destroyed trade, government structures, and long-living groups like the Jedi. Even as it encompassed most of the galaxy, the Empire managed to disconnect the peoples in the galaxy more than ever before. Therefore, it makes sense that we are going to experience fewer people at a time, fewer people are having shared experiences that they can communicate about.

This simplicity also sets the stage for our Rebels to begin fighting to join with other rebel forces. The Empire knows it cannot face a united front, so it fights tooth and nail to keep people apart through military and propaganda. In Rebels we get a front-row seat to the beginning of the unifying of the Rebellion. It starts small, but we know it will become something more.

2. Animation

The animation of The Clone Wars was very angular and structured. There were far more harsh angles and lines. This kept up with the fast pace of that series where a large-scale war was constantly raging.

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Rebels by contrast has very soft, rounded animation. It is richly colorful with layers and tones to both the settings and the characters themselves. This animation is very approachable and puts you at your ease with the more focused pace of the series.

rebels-animation

Both series have used the beautiful designs created by the talented Ralph McQuarrie, but the animators also managed to give each series its own unique look, thus separating them in our minds.

3. Rebels Has a Family Structure

This is one of my absolute favorite aspects of Rebels, and it goes along with the smaller cast and more intimate setting.

While The Clone Wars showed us people in all occupations and social levels, we never experienced a “family”. Everything was formality and rules. Sure, we knew that Obi-Wan and Anakin loved each other as brothers. Anakin and Padme carried their love as husband a wife secretly. And we especially know how much Anakin loved and cared for Ahsoka as a mentor and older brother. But none of these things could ever be acknowledged because of stifling rules and protocols that ended up contributing to the downfall of the Jedi and the Republic.

A family unit and affection is the strongest bond known to anyone. It’s stronger than any government, organization, or group. That is part of why our Rebels are so strong and effective, because they are a family first.

The writers have recognized this fact and how much we love it about their show, as a nod to it they even put in beautiful lines and scenes that accent the “family” side of Rebels.

Kanan and Hera love each other deeply. They have this subtle current of love that is built on shared strength and experiences. They function as husband and wife or mom and dad. This gives the rest of the crew something to depend on and take comfort in.

kanan-and-hera

“Kanan’s family, and we do anything for family.” Hera (Season 1, Ep 15)

“Alright kids, make mom and dad proud.” Hera (Season 2, Ep 1)

“He takes after Hera sometimes.” Kanan (referencing Ezra, Season 2, Ep 9)

“Sabine, you’re sounding more like a Jedi than a Mandalorian.” (Hera)

“Well, I guess I’ve just been raised right.” (Sabine, Season 2, Ep 13)

Hera has a tenderness for those on her crew that is very motherly. She makes Sabine feel acknowledged and understood. Ezra finds deep comfort and sympathy in his and Hera’s shared hope. Zeb and Chopper would be lost without Hera’s gentle compassion and strong leadership.

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Kanan’s attitude towards the crew of The Ghost is one of protection and leadership. He prioritizes their well-being first and values each of their skills. He has taken Ezra under his wing with a very fatherly hand and Ezra soaks it up like a sponge.

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Sabine, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper fall into place under Kanan and Hera’s strong leadership. They all love each other and fight fiercely together. They are able to be brave because they know their family has their back. Each of them knows what they have lost, and they deeply value what they have gained….a new family. This love drives each of them to be better.

“I already lost my parents, I’m not about to lose my new family.” Ezra (Season 1, Ep 13)

4. Rebels is in a Harsher, more Primitive Setting

The glamor of The Clone Wars seems to be just a distant memory, just like the Republic is.

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All that once was has fallen into ruins and is now under the dark shadow of The Empire. We were introduced to some very poor and desperate corners of the galaxy in The Clone Wars, but since the Empire came into being more systems have fallen into poverty and despair.

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This sets the stage beautifully for the ragged Rebellion that will welcome Luke Skywalker in just a few years.

5. Tying Together the Republic, and the New Hope

The Clone Wars filled in the missing years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the SithRebels fills in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New HopeIt sets the stage for not only A New Hope, but also the upcoming story of Rogue 1 where we will get more of the behind-the-scenes story.

Rebels has done its job beautifully in taking the last remnants of the Republic and Clone Wars, and tying that in with the new generation. We have gotten to see beloved characters from the Prequels and Clone Wars series such as Obi-Wan (via hologram, but perhaps more one day), Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Hondo, Sentaor Bail Organa, and Tarkin.

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As we have revisited these old characters and few of their stories, we have also been seamlessly introduced to the new generation of characters. Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and more to come in Season 3.

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Rebels has been a place where the past is meeting the future.

6. Rebels Introduces a New Generation of Jedi, One That is Much Stronger

The old Jedi Order has been wiped out. Kanan Jarrus is one of the few remaining Jedi, and he has now taken on Ezra Bridger as a padawan. As far as they know, they are the only ones in the entire galaxy. Kanan, whose training was cut short by Order 66, never officially reached “Jedi Knight” status. He was forced into hiding as a teenager, and since then has developed his own methods of survival and fighting.

Kanan has a much more loose and raw way of fighting than the Jedi of old. He can wield his fists and a blaster as well as he does a lightsaber or the Force. He doesn’t just rely on Jedi knowledge, but also his own wits and tricks of the trade to accomplish his goals. He’s scrappy and agile. And let’s be honest, he’s really, really good at it.

Kanan’s version of being a “Jedi” is also far more familiar and less formal than the Jedi of old. He doesn’t hold Ezra and those around him at arms length and keep all emotion at bay. Kanan engages his feelings for those he cares about, and he isn’t hindered by those emotions, he is empowered by them. This is so much more natural than the emotional sterility that the Jedi of old attempted to practice.

Kanan is the perfect mentor and father figure to Ezra, who is also scrappy and skilled. Ezra is very down to earth, he feels things very deeply, and he has skills outside of just being a Jedi. These two are a master/padawan match made for each other. Ezra loves his master like a father. He trusts Kanan, he takes comfort in Kanan.

My favorite scenes involving these two is when Ezra experiences something so horrible or sad that he starts to weep. Kanan doesn’t tell him to be quiet or get control, he holds Ezra in his arms and comforts him. This is natural, the Jedi of old were not.

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Kanan and Ezra open the doors to introduce the new breed of Jedi, a breed that isn’t steeped in stale tradition and zero emotion. This new kind of Jedi is more compatible with the galaxy as it is and far more effective than the aloof old Jedi. Kanan, Ezra, Luke Skywalker, Rey, Finn, and hopefully more in the future are all members of this “new” order.

Rebels has been a delight for Star Wars fans old and new. A major shout-out and thank-you to the makers (we love you Dave Filoni) and actors behind this amazing series. You have given us a new Star Wars family to fall in love with and cheer on.

*****

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 premieres Saturday, September 24th on Disney XD! And I for one, cannot wait to return to a galaxy, far, far away. Keep fighting Rebels!

The Need for a Sparring Partner- Part 2

Sparring partners can come in many forms. They can be good friends and allies. They are often love interests. Many sparring partners actually come in the form of villains who, by adding negative pressure, force the hero to get stronger. A sparring partner can also come in the form of a setting or circumstance.

Here are a few examples of good sparring partners.

Love Interest Sparring Partners

Han Solo and Princess Leia

There is no question that Han’s interest in Leia opened the door for him to reveal his big heart and put it out on his sleeve. Han’s drive to fight for Leia, Luke, and the Rebellion pushed him to greater things and more selflessness than ever before.

Leia’s love for Han opened up places in her heart that she had carefully shielded. She is a more well-rounded person because of him.

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And let us all just recognize the masterpiece that are Han and Leia’s verbal exchanges. I think some of the most legendary film dialogue ever written takes place in The Empire Strikes Back.

Finn and Rey

In the course of just a few days, Finn goes from being a frightened Stormtrooper to charging fearlessly into Starkiller Base and dueling with a Dark Side warrior. Finn makes this incredible 180 turnaround because of one person: Rey. Rey simply being who she is pushes Finn to desire to be better, to be more. And that mighty person is exactly what he becomes.

Likewise, Finn touches Rey’s heart by being the first person in her life who has shown her concern, care, and friendship. His choices regarding her make a huge impact on her chosen direction. Finn was a catalyst in Rey’s life that helped move her down the path she is destined for.

Barry Allen and Iris West 

I wish I had time to cover everything I have to say on the subject of West-Allen. I promise you, there is a juicy article in the works.

Barry Allen has been in love with Iris West since forever. Iris has always believed in Barry, even when he didn’t believe in himself. The combination of these two is dynamite.

Barry runs faster, punches harder, and doesn’t give up because he knows that Iris believes in him. She is his inspiration as well as his home.

Iris has always been inspired by Barry, she has always believed in him, even before he became the Flash. Her relationship with Barry throughout the years has helped shape her into a compassionate and mighty person who makes things happen. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind to Barry, even when he doesn’t want to listen.

Like I said, dynamite.

Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter

*Sigh*, we’ve lived this story so many times and it always hurts. But it still wows me.

Steve Rogers immediately saw the strength, dignity, and heart in Peggy Carter. She was everything he could have ever dreamed for in a woman. Knowing her made him want to be better all the time. He carries a picture of her in his compass because Peggy is his true north, his guide, even after her death her words and heart still reach him at his core.

Peggy Carter was almost instantaneously impacted by Steve Rogers. She fell in love with him on Day 1 and his memory inspired pretty much her entire life. She felt that no one, including her, could ever hope to be everything that Steve was. Keeping him in mind, Peggy lived a legendary life that inspired others.

Best Friends

Steve and Bucky

They are with each other “To the end of the line.” 

Growing up, Bucky kept Steve alive. He never failed to have Steve’s back. He took punches, fought battles, and held his friend up through anything. Knowing that scrawny kid from Brooklyn with the massive heart made Bucky into the best friend everyone dreams of. He is a total hero. Without Bucky, there never would have been Captain America

Steve had the best friend in the world, one he could always depend on. When Steve thought he lost Bucky, he kept going with Bucky still sitting in his heart. The knowledge of who Bucky was and the sacrifices he willingly made hugely impacted Steve’s life choices. Later on, when Steve learned Bucky wasn’t actually dead but now a brainwashed assassin, Steve didn’t write his friend off. He walked through fire and ice to save his friend, without hesitation.

Hiccup and Toothless

Hiccup Haddock began to come into his own as soon as he met Toothless. While Hiccup already had many unrecognized talents and abilities, he never had a reason to bring them forward until he met his dragon. Toothless made Hiccup grow into a selfless leader who is constantly improving. Hiccup never settles or stays stagnant, he is always improving, always growing.

Bonding with Hiccup pushed Toothless beyond the bounds of ordinary dragons. Toothless was already an extraordinary dragon, but his great love for Hiccup has pushed him to do things that go even against his own biological instinct. The greatest example of this is when he challenges the Alpha Bewilderbeast in order to protect Hiccup.

Hiccup and Toothless are stronger together, they inspire and push each other to greater heights all the time.

Woody and Buzz

Despite a rough beginning, Woody and Buzz have a friendship that real life people are jealous of. While Woody at first felt threatened by Buzz’s strong presence, he has since grown to appreciate and lean on this brave little space ranger’s shoulder. Woody helped Buzz face reality, learn resourcefulness, and taught him the joy of being a child’s toy.

Buzz is Woody’s backbone. When Woody needs support, Buzz is there. When Woody can’t lead the other toys, Buzz steps up to the plate. When Woody forgets who he is and what being a toy means, Buzz is there to remind him. Great friends remind each other who they are when one has forgotten.

Woody and Buzz make each other better, they fill each other out and made one heck of a team.

Enemies

Flash and Reverse Flash

Run, Barry, run!

Eobard Thawne (aka Harrison Wells/The Reverse Flash) is a top example of a how a villain can be an excellent sparring partner.

Thawne is incredibly layered and complex because he has been the friend, mentor, villain, and created circumstances that have all shaped Barry and forced him to become better. Thawne is constantly moving around and changing up his strategy to manipulate Barry’s actions. That being said, everything that Thawne has done has still made Barry faster, stronger, and smarter.

 

Barry continually overcomes obstacles and springs back up. Whenever Thawne thinks he has won, or at least stolen something from Barry, the strength of Barry’s will and heart still carry the day. Thawne continually has to change and evolve his strategy because he just can’t seem to take a good Barry down.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

There are dozens of articles waiting to happen regarding the Skywalker family. I’ll try to keep it simple here for now.

Luke Skywalker came onto the scene as a whiny kid who had raw talent and Force abilities. And he was in WAY OVER HIS HEAD. Still, he had a enough mentoring in the form of Obi-Wan to jump-start his Jedi career. He also adopted his own personal enemy, the scary guy known as Darth Vader.

Luke was driven to conquer Vader for multiple reasons. He knew Vader to be the villain that destroyed his father (whom Luke worships), Vader killed his mentor (Obi-Wan), and Luke knows that in order to become a powerful Jedi, defeating Vader is his primary concern.

This drive to defeat Vader pushes Luke to train. His time spent on Dagobah was all geared towards his impending confrontation with Vader. Mentally, and physically, Luke was preparing himself for the sole goal of defeating Vader. And then, SURPRISE!

This was a huge moment for Luke’s character. Everything could have fallen apart right here, but lucky for us Luke was smart enough to fall down a ventilation shaft and get the heck outta there.

By the sixth movie, Luke’s goal and drive was to win his father back. He was calm, focused, and frighteningly strong. He faced down Vader and the Emperor without fear. He declared himself to be a true Jedi and confirmed his belief in the good left in Anakin Skywalker. Because of his back and forth battle with Vader, emotionally, physically, and mentally, Luke walks out of Return of the Jedi a total superstar.

 

Darth Vader was trapped. He was evil, he hated the Emperor, and he hated himself. But he was too weak to do anything about it. Until he met Luke.

“The Force is strong with this one.” He becomes obsessed with tracking Luke down and bringing Luke over to his side to join him and overthrow the Emperor.

But that Luke is just too darned determined! He’s slippery, he has good friends who have his back, and Luke is surprisingly strong. Vader has to keep thinking outside of the carbonite chamber in order to track Luke down.

He tries to play the “I’m your Daddy, I know you have Daddy issues” card and his kid purposely falls down a ventilation shaft to get away.

Luke awakens something in Vader. He awakens whatever is left of Anakin that is buried inside of this dark Sith lord.

Vader is in awe of this kid, his kid, who keeps popping back up and just getting stronger all the time. Vader is at war within himself, the Dark and Light side are both tugging at him. One side is his enslaved mind to his Master, and on the other side is his love and admiration for his son.

Luke’s faithfulness and strength are strong enough to make Darth Vader shake himself out of years of darkness and slavery, and overcome the evil that is both himself and the Emperor.

If Luke had never been forced to face Vader, he wouldn’t be so strong. And if Luke hadn’t been so strong, Vader never would have returned to being Anakin. That right there is a showcase of the great power of a excellent sparring partner.

Vader and Luke were sparring partners from the very beginning, even though the nature of their interaction with each other evolved and changed throughout the story.

Setting/Circumstance

Mars and Mark Watney

The Martian has to be one of the best films I have ever seen. It was man vs. Mars wrapped up in a dramatic, yet lighthearted and educational package..

There is no villain in The Martian, but there is an antagonist, and one heck of a sparring partner: Mars.

An inanimate object, a thing with no mind, will, or emotions still takes on the role of the opposition. In order to stay alive, Mark Watney has to essentially beat Mars. He has to out-think, out-math, out-science, out-wit, and out-mental Mars.

Mars proves to be a pretty tough sparring partner. It constantly throws things Mark’s way that almost kill him.

Mark jumps through hoops, solves seemingly impossible equations, and comes up with gadgets and gizmos that would make MacGyver weep. Mark also grows very mentally strong during this ordeal. While he faces heartache, loneliness, despair, and fear, he never gives up.

The Mark Watney who went into space with his buddies is not the same Mark Watney that comes back to earth. He has conquered the unimaginable and come out victorious.

Mark still has an affection for Mars. Even though just about every aspect of Mars was trying to kill him on a regular basis, Mark appreciated the beauty and wonder of Mars. Mars was practically became a character in its own right.

Mark’s character sparred with Mars and he grew exponentially. Those watching Mark grew. Mark’s goal to stay in the match (stay alive) with Mars created a ripple effect that went all the way down to earth. Thousands of people were effected and made stronger by the match with Mars.

Jurassic Park Movies- Man Vs. Nature

Yet another series that I have so much to say on, but now is not the time.

The Jurassic Park films are an amazing example of using setting/circumstance as a sparring partner. I put the dinosaurs into the category of setting because the dinosaurs are not dangerous for any emotional or personal reason. This takes the soul and emotion out of the situation, fitting it more into the category of an emotionless setting or circumstance rather than an emotionally-driven character.

While there are human villains in these films, those humans and their effective harm pale in comparison to the dinosaurs and the damage they cause.

Yes, a dinosaur is a living creature, but it is a creature without a spirit and soul. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are merely behaving out of their instincts, making them less personal, but no-less deadly. This of course was changed in Jurassic World, when the Indominus Rex began to rampage beyond the need for food or defense, but instead merely for sport.

The characters in the first 3 Jurassic films often go into the situation with wide-eyes and little wisdom.

It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are pretty well out-matched and they are going to have to adapt and learn fast if they want to live.

The ones who make it out do so because their characters had a growth spurt. They learned to stop underestimating these animals. They learn the animals’ strengths and weaknesses.

The animals also change and adapt. The velociraptors in particular. They experience new circumstances, absorb the information, and then adapt to the new situation. More than any other dinosaur species in this movie series, the velociraptors prove that they are not stagnant and will continue to change and grow. That makes them ever-increasingly difficult to defeat.

This is an incredibly unique set-up, one where an animal is the human’s great sparring partner/enemy, but the non-emotional creature is also learning and growing because of the human’s involvement.

*****

The need for good sparring partners is vital for any story, be it a film, a book, or your real life. I draw a lot from studying these interactions on screen, and I hope now you can too.

What type of sparring partners do you enjoy the most? Villains and heroes? Love interests? Best friends? Setting/circumstance? What are some of your favorite sparring partners on screen? Do you have great real life sparring partners that help you grow and mature?

I’d love to hear your stories and your opinions. Share what you love, I want to know what you think.

And if you missed my previous article, you can find it here.

 

 

 

 

 

25 of My Favorite Movie Lines

It is the 25th post on reellifebygrace today! I thought I would have some fun with this number and keep it simple by sharing 25 of my favorite movie lines. These are in no particular order and are merely here to make you smile.

1.”It’s like America, but south!” (Ellie, Up)

I am a big South America fangirl. I understand the deep wonder and excitement that Ellie and Carl have for that mysterious continent. Not to mention, this scene is just the cutest thing ever.

2. “I love you.” “I know.” (Han Solo/Leia, The Empire Strikes Back)

Han and Leia’s romance is one of the top movie romances in the world. I love, LOVE their interaction. This scene is so iconic to Star Wars fans for so many reasons. My favorite bit of trivia about this scene is that Harrison Ford came up with his classic I know response on the spot, and a legendary line was born.

To top this amazing line off, the roles are later reversed in Return of the Jedi when Han says “I love you” to Leia. She gets a twinkle in her eye as she replies “I know.” What a great tie-in between the two movies.

3. “Uh, mebbe I shoulda hooked him up to Bessie, an then took the boot off.” (Mater, Cars)

A classic “DUH” moment that is made totally adorable by Mater. He takes Lightening McQueen’s handcuff “boot” off before he hooked McQueen up to Bessie, the enormous asphalt machine.  My dad always laughs at this part, so it is a fond moment for me.

4. “My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, but I’m okay with that now.” (Khalil, Veggie Tales: Jonah)

If you have never seen Khalil the caterpillar, look up some clips on Youtube. He is utterly hilarious and a top-quote character for Veggie Tales fans.

5. “I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously. To which are you referring?” (Spock, Star Trek: Into the Darkness)

SPOCK SASS! I love Spock.

6. “I think I heard a whoosh.” (Emmet, The LEGO Movie)

Emmet is totally adorable, and this line cracks me up. I can just see Chris Pratt saying this himself. I’d be willing to bet Chris Pratt really is Emmet in so many ways. I feel like if we went inside of Chris Pratt’s mind we would find a double-decker couch in there somewhere.

There are a million hilarious and quotable lines from this movie, I had to just grab one off the cuff.

7. “You hesitated.” (Olaf, Frozen)

Again, so many quotable lines to choose from in Frozen, but this one always cracks me up because of the timing. Anna’s hair is turning white and it’s freaking Kristoff out. Her cute little feminine query, “Does it look bad?” is something so many gals can identify with. Poor Kristoff waits a half second longer than he should to reply, and his fate is sealed. So many males identify with this.

Haha, Olaf isn’t buying it.

8. “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn….I can do this all day.” (Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger)

I make no secret about my love for this guy. I really feel like these two lines (they are really a part of the same thought) entirely sum up this extraordinary guy.

It’s even better because of all of the follow-up times when Steve uses his signature lines. He never gives up. It’s the Steve Roger’s version of just keep swimming. 

How do you compete with that?

9. “Obviously. Yes, I am. I’m with the Resistance, yeah, *whispers* I am with the Resistance.” (Finn, The Force Awakens)

This kid is so stinkin’ adorable. I fell in love with him on like Line 3. He was so unlike any of the previous Star Wars main heroes. He was so not confident he felt so normal and human. His instant crush on Rey is all the cuter as he seeks to impress her with his “Resistance” status.

Aren’t they adorable?

10. “What do you still have it for?!? I can’t believe you had THAT in your purse!” (Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy)

Obviously I just picked out one gem among that treasure trove of quotable lines that is Guardians of the Galaxy. This one however, cracks me up even when I’m not watching the movie.

The orb just blew up and the Guardians are all in shock. Rocket’s line is hilarious enough, but it’s made even more hilarious by the fact that he and Peter Quill start having the purse vs. knapsack argument right then and there.

11. “Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow!” (Mushu, Mulan)

Using this line as a comeback will either end the argument with your opponent defeated, or you will make a new best Disney friend.

12. “Great, where are we going?” (Pippin, The Fellowship of the Ring)

I’m going for more comical than deep today. Pippin is a great moment of comedic relief in the epic but exhausting saga that is Lord of the Rings. This line is so hilarious in that you-have-no-idea-kid kind of way. It’s even funnier because this stupid line totally breaks up the solemn and dramatic gravity of Elrond’s “you shall be the Fellowship of the Ring” statement.

What an adorable idiot!

13. “And Daddy! He stole my boot!” (Jane, Tarzan)

Jane is a highly underrated Disney lady. She’s charming, adorable, and says the cutest things. She has the most rambling way of getting to the point. It’s even cuter how her round and squishy little professor Daddy follows her bizarre thoughts easily.

This line is when Jane returns from  having met “the wild man” Tarzan. She’s babbling away about this strange creature, only to stop in the middle of her ramble to talk about the theft of her boot. I do this sometimes, so this line always cracks me up. I can’t find this particular line, but here’s a cute scene that will give you a great example of her adorable dialogue.

14. “These mashed potatoes are SO creamy!” (Midge, While You Were Sleeping)

I cheated by using this line to introduce one whole scene full of hilarious lines. Lucy is eating dinner with Peter’s family and about 3 different conversations are happening at once. She and Jack never say a word but smile at each other through the chaos. It’s a hilarious scene, one that I completely understand because I grew up in a large family. I promise you, this is completely realistic.

This movie is priceless!

15. “Whaaaaattt???” (Minion, Despicable Me)

This gif works for EVERYTHING.

16. “You should know, that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever done!” (Flynn Rider, Tangled)

Flynn Rider broke so many rules for Disney guys, I think that’s why he is so beloved. This scene is hilarious.

17. “I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy.” (Dory, Finding Nemo)

This is everyone literally every time they see something adorable.

18. “School mascot by day, but by night….I am also a school mascot.” (Fred, Big Hero 6)

He’s so hilarious!

19. “I’ve never put on pantyhose, but it sounds dangerous.” (Joseph, The Princess Diaries)

Fellas, you just have no idea the truth of this statement. I laugh really hard at this line because pantyhose are HORRIBLE! They itch, they pull, they rip, they slip, and you have no guarantees about the length of your life when you start putting them on. They are DANGEROUS!

20. “Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.” (Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon)

Hiccup Haddock is one of the greatest things animation has ever brought the world. I flat-out adore this guy. His dry and sarcastic sense of humor is one of the best aspects of this character.

21. “I was with the Navy, not the Navajo.” (Owen, Jurassic World)

There’s a reason Chris Pratt keeps sneaking in here. He’s amazing. I love Owen’s face when Claire looks expectantly at him after asking him to track down her nephews. He gives her this look repeatedly throughout the movie.

22. “Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather.” (Loki, Thor: The Dark World)

Loki gets the best lines.

23. “The word I’m searching for, I can’t say because there’s preschool toys present.” (Woody, Toy Story)

This is a great way to express your emotions in a situation without getting profane.

24. “So yeah, I blew myself up.” (Mark, The Martian)

Mark’s running dialogue for this movie was utterly amazing. He had a great sense of humor that kept things from getting too heavy. Amazing!

25. “If I see one, I shall inform you immediately.” (Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

This is one of my favorite little interchanges throughout this funny movie.

And there you have it! 25 great movie lines from some wonderful movies. This was actually far more complicated than I had anticipated. Good thing I chose to do this post for my 25th instead of my 100th. Merry movie-watching to you all!

 

5 Reasons Why Finn Is Still Going to Be a Jedi

When the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, it seemed that Finn was going to be our primary new Jedi figure. After all, he was the one wielding the light saber and going toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren, our Dark Side baddie. While I think that we all guessed Rey was going to be Force-sensitive via her genetic line, we really didn’t know how involved she was going to be with the battle between the Light and Dark side.

I was surprised and delighted when Rey stepped into the Light as a very strong, very Force sensitive character. She handled the role with grace and humility, so I didn’t resent her at all. I think the filmmakers did a beautiful job of creating a balance in all of their main characters, giving them equal parts of strength and vulnerability. Finn and Rey in particular took turns looking out for each other.

Still, after the first viewing, I felt a bit of disappointment that Finn didn’t end the film with a clear direction as a Jedi. I really enjoyed watching him wield the lightsaber, even though I also totally ate up Rey kicking Kylo Ren’s rear.

However, after reading a theory or two, and watching the movie several more times (I do want to give credit to some of these sources for pointing this out to me,  I am borrowing some of their ideas along with my own), I have come to the conclusion that Finn along with Rey will become a Jedi character. He is Force-sensitive, but perhaps in a less obvious way than Rey in this film.

Here are five reasons why, started with the weakest up to the strongest.

1. His Strong Sense of Justice and Compassion

Finn good Stormtrooper

During his first battle, Finn never fired a single blast. He knew that what he and his fellow Stormtroopers were ordered to do was wrong. He felt horror and sadness at the death of his fellow soldier. When ordered to murder the villagers, Finn couldn’t fire because he instinctively knew that what was happening was wrong.

Later, in the small Jakku outpost, Finn saw two creeps hassling a young woman. He didn’t hesitate to jump up and try to interfere. Granted, he soon saw that Rey could handle herself, but his heart was in the right place. He assigned himself the job of watching Rey’s back even before he knew her name.

The Jedi were supposed to be protectors and peacekeepers in the galaxy. It was instinctive for them to protect life and especially those who were preyed upon by evil. Finn struggles a bit with this, his desire to protect Rey is warring with his own fearful instinct to get away from the First Order.

But by the end of the movie he is no longer waffling, instead he runs straight into the doors of Starkiller base to rescue his friend. His love for Rey pushes Finn to embrace what is already inside of him, the heart of a hero and a warrior.

2. He Broke Through An Entire Life of Brainwashing

Stormtrooper Finn

He has been raised by the First Order from babyhood. He never knew his parents. All he has known and been taught is the First Order. Practically speaking, the idea that someone would break out of 20 years of brainwashing in just a few hours is pretty far out there, even for a galaxy far, far away.

Still, Finn did it, and it’s quite obvious there is no going back for him. He is clearly thinking for himself and even harbors bitterness and hatred towards the First Order. I think the only logical explanation for any of this is that Finn must be Force-sensitive. No other Stormtroopers reacted the way he did, even though they went through the same motions.

3. Wielding the Lightsaber

Not just anyone can pick up a lightsaber and do well with it. True, Finn has been given excellent military training, something they did a great job showcasing. But he has never handled a lightsaber before, and twice in this movie he wields one with decent amount of skill for a beginner.

He even managed to go toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren for a bit there in that last duel scene. Granted, his anger was up over what Kylo just did to Rey (a little righteous anger never hurt anyone in a lightsaber fight, ask Luke and Obi-Wan), but he holds his own pretty well for a rookie. Kylo Ren is supposed to be this incredible warrior who wiped out the new generation of Jedi, and yet, he gets his rear handed to him by an ex-Stormtrooper and a sweet girl from Jakku.

4. Kylo Ren Sensed Finn Through the Force

Kylo Ren Dark Side baddie

Kylo Ren would be proud to know that he is like Grandpa Vader in the fact that when he senses something via the Force, we all know it. Both villains pause and raise their helmeted heads slightly when feeling something.

Right before departing Jakku, Kylo Ren ordered the massacre of the remaining villagers. The other Stormtroopers opened fire without question. Finn stood staring in horror. He was still standing there when Kylo Ren walked by to head back to his ship. If you notice, Kylo pauses mid-step, looks up slightly, and then turns to actually stare at Finn, who stares back. Kylo felt Finn before he saw him.

Later on, right after Kylo has killed Han Solo, Rey screams in agony. Kylo looks up at the platform where Rey and Finn are standing, but he isn’t looking at Rey, he’s glaring at Finn. The camera even zooms in on Finn’s face. There are very few coincidences in the Star Wars Universe, and you should NEVER mistake a unique camera shot for a random choice. Something is being alluded to there.

5. Finn Felt/Heard the Death of the Republic When No One Else Did

This is by far the biggest tell-tale clue that Finn is Jedi material. When the beams of destruction were sent out from Starkiller Base towards the Republic Planets, Finn was preparing to board a ship with smugglers headed for the Outer Rim. No one around him had noticed the bright red beams in the sky, he himself hadn’t seen them yet.

But he pauses, and cocks his head as if hearing something. Listen carefully, you can hear screaming. But from where? No one around him was reacting yet, however, the people on the Republic planets were screaming. This is very much like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s reaction to the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars: A New Hope.

I think this is the best clue that Finn is, indeed, a Jedi.

The trailers were cleverly made to make us believe that Finn was the primary new Jedi, a misdirect from the truth that Rey was actually the biggest Force-user in The Force Awakens. But perhaps the filmmakers used their own mind-trick on us. Maybe Rey is now being used to distract us from the fact that Finn will also become a Jedi.

This will be a new experience for Star Wars fans. We have really only ever had one new Jedi to focus on at a time. First it was Luke Skywalker, then Anakin Skywalker. In the animated series The Clone Wars we saw the conflict through the eyes of growing padawan Ahsoka Tano. In Star Wars Rebels our new Jedi character is Ezra Bridger.

Always one at a time. But, this is a new time, and a new generation of Star Wars, so why not shake things up?

I believe that Finn and Rey are going to take turns in the spotlight as we see their journey to fulfill their destinies. And I love it. They have an awesome dynamic that is fresh and engaging. They are both relate-able and endearing characters who bring out the best in each other.

We will see Finn come into his own as a Jedi.

*****

What did you think of Finn? Do you agree that he is in fact Force-sensitive? What are your hopes for him in Star Wars Episode 8?

Check out these other fan theories as well! You’ll find that we all came to some very similar conclusions.

http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/star-wars-force-awakens-finn-force-sensitive-fan-theories/

http://moviepilot.com/posts/3695753

Great video here!