Was Star Wars’ Rey a nobody who turned out to be an incredibly powerful Force-wielding Jedi? Or was she the secret granddaughter of the most evil Sith Lord in history?
Well, it depends on what Star Wars movie you watched. After J.J. Abrams introduced Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, as a mysterious orphan in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson then revealed in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that the mystery of her parentage was basically irrelevant; her parents’ identity, though still unresolved, was supposedly meaningless. But then in the next movie, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the franchise reversed course, revealing the previous film’s explanation to be a lie and revealing that Rey was descended from the evil Emperor Palpatine, who she defeated once and for all before taking the name Rey Skywalker.
These choices remain deeply contentious with almost all Star Wars fans. Some hated The Last Jedi; others couldn’t stand The Rise of Skywalker. But how dies Ridley herself feel about the whole kerfuffle? She gave her thoughts to Rolling Stone. Offering an extremely diplomatic answer, she explained that she could see value in both versions of Rey, while also insisting that such matters were “above my pay grade.”
What was interesting about the last one, for me, was that you can be a hero and not come from anywhere or you can be a hero and come from literally the worst person in the universe. You’re not your parents, you’re not your grandparents, you’re not your bloodline and you’re not the generations before you.
“I do love the version of, you can be anyone you want to be,” Ridley also said, “but I also love the version where you can rectify wrongs and can’t help what you’re born into.”
Who is right here? Well, until some other writer comes along and retcons all of this, Abrams is right; that’s the version that was filmed last and that’s the version that remains the official part of Star Wars continuity. But Ridley’s comments underscore why it was clearly not easy to decide just what to do with Rey; there are valid reasons for either explanation of her background. And regardless, it’s all pretty much irrelevant now. The Skywalker Saga is effectively over, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll see Rey or any of those other characters again anytime soon.
Movies That Critics Loved But Audiences Didn’t
These movies all got high marks from critics, but general audiences were less than enthusiastic.