Star Wars: The Last Jedi has completely torn apart one of the largest pop franchise fandoms ever. The new kids on the block – Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) are going down the Hollywood’s rating trap of will-they-won’t-they, and it’s honestly disappointing. A lot of things were discovered about ‘Reylo’ – yes, that is what fans are calling them now – in The Last Jedi, and fans can’t seem to make up their minds about what they expect. And whether they want Reylo to happen at all.
Atleast it’s not getting TOO weird?
The fandom had largely objected against a Reylo romance earlier, owing to the fact that both Rey and Kylo might be related and share some Skywalker blood. But Last Jedi does away with that theory as it was confirmed that her parents were nobodies, who sold her into slavery for petty money. So unlike the original trilogy, no incest here. But this fact was discovered by Kylo, as he looked into Rey’s parentage and wanted to know her origins – and fans have pointed out that it is obviously suggestive of his romantic interest in Rey.
To kill or or not to kill, again?
Rey and Kylo first met each other in the 2015 The Force Awakens where Kylo enters her mind and plans to torture her – hardly a fantastic start for a relationship. Fans also believe that the only reason Kylo hasn’t harmed Rey substantially is because she is almost as powerful as him. Not to mention the very toxic nature of their dynamic – Kylo has tried to kill her multiple times, and fans believe he will do it again.
Rey doesn’t need a love interest
Daisy Ridley’s Rey is one of the most empowered women leads in cinema, and one of the very few (possibly the only) fantasy leads who was not shown to have a love interest. Star Wars is onto something trailblazing by introducing a female Jedi and not throwing in a boyfriend at the same time. Many people want it to remain that way.
Not every woman character needs male validation and a sexually relevant arc to have a viable storyline, and Rey proves it. Especially now, since the issue of female narratives is so widely discussed in Hollywood – Star Wars had been able to accomplish something remarkable. Rey does not need a love interest, for the sake of a change of pace in mainstream storytelling – and certainly not a toxic supervillain like Kylo.
Romance and Star Wars
Star Wars romances have been the very definition of a doomed ‘ship.’ From Luke and Mara to Han and Leia, or even Anakin and Padme, romance has always been the unwitting victim in the Star Wars universe. Rey’s establishment as a hero must be treated as a singularly exceptional arc and must live out on its own merit. That is not to say, that Rey loses validity as a hero if she falls in love – no, she does not. But viewers are craving for a better option than Hollywood’s ‘fierce girl falling for the damaged bad boy’ legacy.
Rey and Kylo have had an incredible run – as individual characters, and make for dynamic enemies. Star Wars needs to explore their relationship and their complex chemistry without giving in to the obvious pitfalls of gender-run storytelling.
Very few franchises have had a man and a woman fighting on either side of the sword (in this case, lightsaber), without entangling in an obvious romantic parallel. Star Wars has the potential to be the first of its kind. Why can’t Rey and Kylo have what Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker had, in terms of a dynamic – just because one is a man and the other a woman? Star Wars has stumbled upon a monumental opportunity to redefine gender roles, and must make good use of it.