Spoilers ahoy. Turn back ye mighty or despair.
Since this post is about Star Wars and since James Wymore is a full Sith Lord, I will respect his religion and not mock him during this post. But he has an orange lightsaber, and we all know those are the ugliest.
So let's talk about the new Star Wars, the original Star Wars, and how the new writers grew the characters over the last thirty-some years. We'll start with an analysis of the characters from the original Star Wars. If you remember from Part 0 of my plotting series, Dramatica's Grand Argument Theory of plotting has eight Character Archetypes. Let's have a reminder, with the characters of the original 1977 Star Wars assigned their proper places.
Protagonist -- Our hero -- Luke Skywalker, of course.
Antagonist -- The Villain -- The Empire, embodied in that film by Grand Moff Tarkin, later by the Emporer.
The Guardian -- Protects and guides the protagonist -- Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Contagonist -- Opposes the Guardian and tries to steer the protagonist down the wrong path -- Darth Vader (although that isn't obvious until The Empire Strikes Back).
Emotion -- Represents Feeling -- Chewbacca
Reason -- Opposes Emotion, represents Logic -- Leia
Skeptic -- Represents Doubt -- Han Solo
Sidekick -- Opposes Skeptic, represents Faith -- R2D2 and C3P0
So let's look at how the new characters fit into the franchise, and how the old ones might have shifted.
Protagonist: Obviously, we're starting with Rey here. She is our hero, in almost every way. She steps so neatly into Luke's position that even if she isn't Luke's daughter like most people think, John Williams still saw fit to play the damn Skywalker scene over her about six times in the film. Seriously. Twice he uses almost the same orchestration as he used when Luke accepted the Skywalker destiny.
But I'm going to go out on a limb here and give her a minor co-protagonist: Poe Dameron. Poe takes over the fighter pilot role from Luke and he steps in as protagonist pretty much every time Rey is neutralized by the movie's plot. He starts off as the prime driver, then disappears when she comes on, then reappears when she's captured, then flickers in and out of the story during her escape and final acceptance of her destiny. Also, Rey takes up Poe's quest and gets it finished. Twice.
Fair notice, though. I might be biased. Rey is my hero in every way, but Poe is actually my favorite character. That might because Poe is the Platonic idea of the Italian American. Seriously. He mouths off to the bad guy, then when he gets broken out, he realizes that Finn just needs him for his skill, but he rolls with it without holding a grudge. Then he gives Finn his nickname that will stick forever. He encourages even as he jokes, and as a kicker, when he sees Finn wearing his jacket, he won't take it back because it suits him. Seriously, the only thing he didn't do was follow that up with, "And you look starving, we need to get some cannoli in you."
Antagonist: Another easy one. The First Order, most directly represented by General Hux. How often do you see a scene I think, "Somewhere in here, a director okayed this actor giving us the Full Hitler."
Guardian: Here's where things get interesting. For the guardian, we get the 70-year-old Han Solo. He takes Rey under his wing, becomes a grumpy father figure, and even dies right at the point where the guardian needs to step aside so the protagonist can grow into their own. Ford didn't just age the Han Solo character. He and the writer's GREW that character into something bigger and special. I expect to talk more about his series-wide character arc in the next post. I expect that in the next movie, the guardian will be either Luke, Chewbacca, or both.
Contagonist: Kylo Ren. Seriously. He tries to seduce Rey to the dark side of the force and he kills the Guardian. It's like he's ticking off the Darth Vader checklist.
Emotion: No longer Chewie, Finn takes up this role. Finn stops just a step or two from full Cowardly Lion and he does it brilliantly. He is a bundle of emotions and social awkwardness bundled in a desperate package, just praying for something better, but probably convinced he doesn't deserve it. Finn is probably the greatest creation of the new movie. Poe's still my favorite. All right. Chewie does it once or twice too, but he's mellowed with age.
Reason: Still Leia, and I love it. She's a calm (if a spirited version of calm) center of the Star Wars movies. Practical. Far thinking. Always looking at the big picture. She was the female CEO before female CEOs were a thing. Calling her a princess is like calling Rommel a German advisor.
Skeptic: This one hard, because force awakens doesn't have a good example of a skeptic character. The junk dealer on Jakku might be it for part. Captain Phasma as well. Rey and Finn both take up the Skeptic role in their own ways. Skeptic gets passed around in the Force Awakens, which isn't terribly surprising, because it's a movie about Finn and Rey finding their faith.
Sidekick: Obviously, the indomitable and awesome BB-8 is the primary Faith character in Force Awakens, with C-3PO and R2 pulling up the slack. That's never more perfectly depicted than in the scene where R2 and BB-8 join together to project a map leading to the holiest place in the Galaxy. Seriously. Faith, faith, faith.
That takes us to the end of the character archetypes. New characters stepped into the roles of old. Han Solo grew into something new and special, and R2 and 3PO remained constant.
Next week, we'll take the analysis further and look at some individual arcs.