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Rey haters have forgotten the ultimate ‘Star Wars’ Mary-Sue

'The Force Unleashed' is one of the best 'Star Wars' games of all time, but the series spit in the face of what it means to be a Force user.

Force Unleashed promo Art Via Lucas Films, Rise of Skywalker Via Disney Plus

In an era of entertainment marked by monolithic franchises, Star Wars can easily be pegged as one of the worst offenders. The nearly quinquagenarian series is absolutely sprawling, combining books, video games, television franchises, and movies to create a beautifully realized, incredibly immersive galaxy that has continued to hold fan dedication long after credits role and books are closed. But for all of the carefully planned and interlocked galaxy building, there are an errant few stories that are — without a doubt — the byproduct of a wild fan’s mind begging the question “what if.”

Enter Starkiller, the brooding, overpowered villain-turned-hero from 2008’s The Force Unleashed. Though it was far from the first Star Wars game, The Force Unleashed changed the paradigm by moving beyond hacking and slashing — albeit hacking and slashing with a lightsaber — by introducing the concept of phenomenal cosmic powers. And boy, were they game-changing.

Starkiller is enigmatic, angsty, and constantly struggles with whether he is merely the product of his upbringing, or if he can be something more. But you know what he never struggles with? His powers. Starkiller is the ultimate Star Wars Mary-Sue; he blows past Rey, leaving her chomping on his proverbial dust as he force jumps, pulls, and blasts his way to the position of Queen Sue. And fans of the series don’t even seem to realize that much of what makes Starkiller so beloved, is what makes Rey seem so loathsome.

The only thing that Rey has going for her that Starkiller doesn’t is her continued presence in the Star Wars canon. Even as Kal Cestis becomes the reigning Star Wars video game character, he still stands in the shadow of the angst-ridden, overpowered badass that defined a generation of Star Wars, and non-Star Wars gamers. But even with Starkiller’s many talents, there is little possibility that the former Sith could ever be reinstated, simply because he spits in the face of everything we know about what it is to be Force Sensitive.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Image via LucasArts

I would even argue that he goes against the phrase itself. Starkiller isn’t just Force Sensitive, he is more like “Force Powerful.” His Force abilities are completely outside of the realm of “reality,” which — as a created clone with enhanced Force abilities — shouldn’t be too surprising. What should be surprising is that Rey operates essentially under the same premise, yet legions of fans feel she has no place in the Star Wars canon due to her lack of struggle with learning to wield the Force. Granted, she didn’t have Galen Marek’s background as a poor, tortured boy, but she had something that Star Wars canon has espoused as more important than training: Force-powerful lineage.

Even Starkiller’s history is hilarious in the context of the legion of Rey haters who consistently return to bash the character for being “too OP.” His background synopsis describes Galen Marek as “exceptionally skilled in the Force,” with the “potential to become one of the most powerful Force-users of all time.” Even Darth Sidious, one of the most powerful Sith to control the galaxy, was scared of Galen Marek’s potential. Darth Sidious quaking in his boots over anyone is ridiculous. Sidious wasn’t scared of Darth Vader; instead, Sidious saw in the Anakin — who was literally conceived by the Force — a valuable asset to be used and abused until he was of no more use.

Image via LucasArts / Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

His biography continues that with Galen’s extensive Sith training, he became even more powerful, though he was unable to access the finer skills of the Force, those that relied on the dedication and concentration taught by the Jedi. His anger made him incredibly powerful, strong enough to rival his master and Sidious (insert loud fart sounds here), but as Starkiller began to use abilities from the Light Side of the Force, his strength dwindled. Though it would be his love for his friends and allies that gave him the strength to nearly kill Darth Vader and Lord Sidious, nevermind that his abilities decreased when he stopped harnessing his anger.

Where is the indignation about a guy who could single-handedly nearly kill the two most terrifying and powerful Dark Side users in the galaxy? Why was there no outrage around Starkillers DLC that allowed the Sith apprentice to murder Ben Kenobi, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and even Princess Leia, but also seduce Luke to the Dark Side? I know, I know, it was a different time, but to hear the discourse around Starkiller be rife with love and nostalgia, while the equally terribly-written Rey gets shredded — the double-standard has to be pointed out.

Even comparing the two’s abilities is laughable. Long before Kylo Ren was freezing blaster shots in the air, Starkiller was deflecting blaster fire with a wave of his hand, something only high-level Sith have ever been seen doing. He’s so powerful that he can avoid succumbing to Lord Sidious’s mind manipulations, even avoiding insanity after the encounter. It’s something that has been discussed several times throughout the series; anytime a foreign presence pokes around in a strong mind, there is a more than mild risk of forever destroying the victim’s consciousness, and to assume that Sidious wouldn’t render Galen a drooling pile of mush for his impertinence is just one shining example of his indestructible plot armor. And even when Galen Marek is killed, he returns in the worst way possible — via cloning— and yet, fans are easily able to stomach the lazy return of the character.

Image via Lucasfilm

Don’t even get me started on his ability to direct an entire Star Destroyer as it fell from orbit, all the while maintaining enough concentration to push aside innumerable attacking enemies on the ground. Master Yoda had to concentrate on holding up what couldn’t be more than a ton scrap metal, to save Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, and that dude has forgotten more about the Force than most Jedi ever learn. Did I mention how skilled Starkiller is with a saber? No joke, take a look at his Wiki page, it’s full of, “incredibly skilled, incredibly talented, exceptionally skillful.” Every piece of fan literature is about Starkiller and his “exceptional skillz.” It’s repeated so often, it loses all meaning. His incredible abilities (that only continue to grow) immediately bring to mind Reva, a secret, super-powerful apprentice who is inexplicably amazing at everything — and no, we will not explain why.

I’m not saying this because I don’t like the games. I’ll be honest, I sat my butt on my couch after the second one dropped, and I played it straight through all ten-ish hours it took me to complete enough of the game for my satisfaction. I love Starkiller, I love the absolute power fantasy of stepping into his world. It’s beyond exciting to pull ships from the sky, launch dozens of enemies with a Force push, and even Force lightning a chain of combatants. It was incredible to come up against such beloved characters, even if it meant hunting down heroes and pushing the Rebellion to collapse.

The Force Unleashed is a power fantasy, perfectly Sith-like in how fun it is to absolutely wreck any enemy who dares stand against you. But even Starkiller’s voice actor, Sam Witwer, has called the game “an incredible tall tale from the mind of [game director] Haden Blackman with some assistance from George Lucas.” Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, so despite Lucas’s involvement with the first game (he barely involved with the second), Starkiller will likely never be canon. And with his plethora of canon-breaking moments, it’s not hard to understand why. And while those games will always sit on dust-free shelves in the cozy room of my nostalgia, I am glad for it. As much as I love phenomenal cosmic powers, I’ll take the inventive, sacrificial actions of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ezra Bridger, and Luke Skywalker over the action-packed power fantasies of Rey, Reva, and Starkiller any day.

Ash Martinez
About the author

Ash Martinez

Ash has been obsessed with Star Wars and video games since she was old enough to hold a lightsaber. It’s with great delight that she now utilizes this deep lore professionally as a Freelance Writer for We Got This Covered. Leaning on her Game Design degree from Bradley University, she brings a technical edge to her articles on the latest video games. When not writing, she can be found aggressively populating virtual worlds with trees.