NOV / DEC 2016: BY SCARLETT GRANT
So Rey is the hero, Kylo the villain and Poe is too cool. So what about Finn? Or as he was previously known, FN-2187. As he was raised by The First Order from birth (or at least an incredibly young age) we have no idea of who he is or could possibly be. Furthermore, unlike Rey there are no clues nor mass fan speculation concerning his family and background, leaving the mystery intact. However, J.J. Abrams promises to reveal Finn’s origins in Episode VIII and IX. So maybe we’ll soon find out more about the history of this charismatic character.
As shown in the very first few minutes of the film, Finn is clearly an empathetic individual. The death of one of his fellow stormtroopers and being ordered to massacre an entire village is enough to push him into deserting The First Order, despite having been indoctrinated to their beliefs his whole life. We actually know very little about Finn’s time as a stormtrooper (other than his sanitation responsibilities on Starkiller Base). As they are all raised together from a very young age, and pushed together into platoons it is obvious that they would have been incredibly close together. Hence why Finn was so disturbed by the death of one of his fellow fighters and explains later on why another stormtrooper (who fans have dubbed TR-8R) refers to Finn as a traitor.
Alongside the empathetic nature of Finn, there is obviously the far more fun and comedic side. Whilst Finn is constantly confused and curious about the brand new world continuously unraveling around him, he makes small little quips about his and others plight. Whether this is intentional or accidental is up to the audience. But regardless, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars film without those little moments of comedic relief and this is a reason why Finn is perfect within the franchise.
John Boyega has stated about Finn that “not only is the character in over his head and someone who is just dropped into an extraordinary circumstance, the scenes and the script prove that and it’s not a problem that can just be erased.” Indeed, Finn is constantly dealing with his belief that he is a traitor and this often makes him too scared or nervous to deal with certain situations. A notable situation is that when escaping with Poe, he demands that they do not return to Jakku in case he is found by the The First Order and accordingly punished. Later on, he also fails to tell Rey that he is not a member of the Resistance and just goes along with her assumption rather than admitting the truth. But of course you can’t have a well developed character without some realistic flaws, and as well all know Finn overcomes his fears by the end of the film.
Also in my own opinion, it seems as though Finn is an avatar for the audience to place themselves in. Even more so for the audience members for whom The Force Awakens is their first Star Wars film and have no or little knowledge of the world. After all, he becomes abandoned on a planet which hasn’t been featured in any of the films before. Truly a new experience for all of us, even the far more wizened fans. Additionally, Finn’s apparent lack of understanding the Wookiee or Droid language is also another familiarity with the audience too, and makes him seem even more like a fish-out-of-water. Even Rey with her isolated and lonely life is able to understand Chewbacca and BB-8.
But what truly makes Finn a star in a galaxy far, far away is his glittering portrayal by John Boyega. Boyega was cast due to his performance in the cult sci-fi film Attack The Block (2011), which impressed J.J. Abrams as well as Kathleen Kennedy. The exemplar comedic timing and incredible wit provided by Boyega, was quite rightly met with critical acclaim and praise. Sadly, though Boyega has faced racist abuse from Star Wars fans online and the controversy of being reduced on The Force Awakens promotional poster used in China. When informed that some racists had even planned to boycott the film due to the inclusion of a black stormtrooper Boyega simply said “I’m proud of my heritage, and no man can take that away from me. I wasn’t raised to fear people with a difference of opinion. They are merely victims of a disease in their mind.”
With someone like Boyega depicting Finn, I am incredibly excited for the next two films as to where the character will go, both physically and mentally. But even already, Finn is a great addition to a galaxy far, far away.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scarlett Grant is a young graduate trying to step into the real world. When she’s not writing for Femnista, she’s focusing on her own blog: Thoughts in 500 Words. She is also an amateur history buff, with other interests in art, film, languages, music and writing.