Two huge Disney mistakes, namely: why they failed Rey (Star Wars) and Elizabeth Swann (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Two great female characters in two of the greatest sagas ever generated by those Disney brains: the third trilogy of Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Obviously, these characters are expected to be inspirational, their story to evolve within the saga, and as they grow up they achieve personal happiness and wholeness. Something that, apparently and without any major surprises, Disney isn't entirely willing to do...
Let's start with Rey.
She is introduced to us on Jakku, in The Force Awakens. She is alone, abandoned on an arid, desert and hot planet where she struggles daily for survival. Above all, she is waiting for the family who seem to have abandoned her. She desperately searches for something or someone she belongs to and her entire existence is based on survival and waiting. No personal ambition, no self-seeking, no affirmation or development of her abilities.
Then, something happens. The Force, the Resistance, Finn and Han Solo... we all know how it went, but that's not the point: she meets someone with whom she establishes a deeper contact, someone who understands her more than anyone else has ever been able to do. She's listened to and understood, accepted in a way that not even Luke Skywalker is capable of.
And this person is Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo.
And it is he who always confronts her with a challenge, a battle, a way to finally release her power and prove to herself how much she is worth. He's the one who tells her (somewhat abruptly, let's face it) that her parents won't be back. And he is the first to make her understand that it does matter: she's a person, she's powerful and she doesn't need anyone else to prove it.
Rey is Rey, and that's enough!
Now we come to the third and final movie. We expect the complete growth of the character, the conquest of her freedom: it is Rey who can make the difference, she is the reason why the Resistance can win, she is the reason why Kylo Ren is willing to leave the dark side of the Force. The meaning of the whole film should be that Rey is a strong, independent woman, powerful in the Force and at the same time this doesn't prevent her from loving, being a good friend, a heroine and at the same time seeking a sentimental completeness. Ben Solo is the other part of the dyad, her soulmate, but that doesn't mean Rey isn't complete.
However... it is evidently not conceivable that the affirmation of oneself is valid regardless of one's origin. And the film has to end like this:
Just how depressingly it started. Rey is alone, on a shitty sandy planet, desperately trying to belong to a family to make sense of her existence. As if everything that happened before never happened, as if she never grew up.
Now, Elizabeth Swann.
Another era, another movie, a similar fate. The first moment we meet our protagonist, this is the scene:
the metaphorical meaning is evident. Suffocated by her life, with the prospect of a more or less arranged marriage, with a man she more or less knows. This is a life that doesn't belong to her: she is free and courageous... and someone in the movie seems to understand this better than others and no, I am not referring to William. She seems to be in love with this innocent-looking, vaguely bland guy. At least until she meets Captain Jack Sparrow and their first interaction speaks volumes.
Not only does he save her from drowning, but he does it by cutting off the corset. Do I have to explain myself further?
The movie proceeds, the good guys win, Jack runs away, William declares himself (with no indication of why they should be in love, there is absolutely nothing to explain why! No element to say!) And they all lived happily ever after... No!
Davy Jones and the kraken search for Jack, William searches for Jack on Becket's behalf, Elizabeth searches for William and ends up finding Jack before everyone else. And here it is... together again, now we are given the elements to understand exactly why she and Jack are perfect together.
They talk, understand each other and trust each other. They feel undeniable attraction. Pretty much soulmates... the kraken and its aftermath frighten Elizabeth, she is confused about her feelings towards William, so she leaves Jack at the kraken... not before kissing him passionately (except it wasn't necessary, if she hadn't wanted to... but goodness, they both wanted it!).
Let's move on to the third film. Elizabeth leaves to save Jack for the sole reason that she feels guilty. William doesn't understand shit, and communication with him is completely reduce to zero.
Will Turner : You left Jack to the kraken.
Elizabeth Swann : He's rescued now, it's done with.
Elizabeth Swann : Will, I had no choice.
Will Turner : You chose not to tell me.
Elizabeth Swann : I couldn't. It wasn't your burden to bear.
Will Turner : But I did bear it, didn't I? I just didn't know what it was. I thought...
Elizabeth Swann : You thought I loved him.
[Elizabeth tries to push past Will]
Will Turner : [Will blocks her exit and pushes her back against the pillar of the cabin] If you make your choices alone... how can I trust you?
Elizabeth Swann : [pause] You can't.
Will Turner : I need the Pearl to free my father. That's the only reason I came on this voyage.
Elizabeth Swann : You never told me any of this!
Will Turner : [pointedly] It was my burden to bear...
As you can see their conversations clearly show the fact that there is no trust between them, there is no communication. Each of them proceeds in different directions so much so that Elizabeth becomes captain of the Empress, she is named pirate king of the Brethren Court and this is the following:
she is the one who spurs a fleet of men towards war, she is the first to take up the sword and fight until direct confrontation with Davy Jones! Here, she has arrived: she has become a pirate captain, king of pirates, she is free and powerful and...
A wedding with Will???? What?!?!? Why???? They didn't talk to each other throughout the film, except to fight! Jack is crazy about her and she knows it! She never even denied that she loved him!
In short, she marries William and her destiny is to abandon the ship of which she became captain, piracy and freedom to live alone, in a lighthouse, mother of a child conceived the only time she has... I mean, you understand... waiting for William for... ten years ???? Once every ten years???? One single day?!?!!?! I don't... What?!?!?! The meaning of her life is to be faithful to a man?!?!?!?!
In my opinion they have failed these characters: the personal affirmation of these women has been absolutely destroyed, in favor of an absolutely unnecessary narrative continuity, in the first case, and the affirmation of a female role not at all understandable for the current world we live in, in the second case (on the contrary, the freedom of female affirmation should be encouraged and not limited this way). I believe that these characters could have given much more to the role of women in these movies and I believe that the artistic choices made on these sagas have implemented a totally unjustified anticlimax.
Feel free to add any other character to the list. Starting with this one:
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