Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

We Need to Talk About Captain Phasma and Boba Fett

Phasma-Fett

We’ve all seen the memes. We’ve all seen the articles called “X Things Wrong with The Force Awakens” and the rebuttals that point out what should have been obvious to anyone with an iota of awareness. If you genuinely use ludicrously meaningless and inappropriate words like “emo” and “weak” to describe a nuanced character like Kylo Ren, then none of your fellow humans will be able to drag you from your miasma of foolishness, no matter how well intentioned they are in trying to do so.

But in a lot of these rebuttals there’s a section that does its vague best to defend Captain Phasma. They come free with reminders that, hey, everyone just loved Boba Fett, didn’t they? And he didn’t do a damn thing either, right? All that guy did was look badass and people loved him. Phasma totally deserves the same treatment! After all, she didn’t even go out like a punk, a la Fett’s embarrassing demise. Right? Right!?

Well, no. Dead wrong.

I have no particular love for Boba Fett (and holy shit, did I ever want to love Captain Phasma) but people didn’t just love Fett because he looked cool, people loved him because they responded to the excellent way he was portrayed in the movies. Captain Phasma, by comparison, came across as clumsily presented at best and grossly misused at worst. This wasn’t Gwendoline Christie’s fault. This was script, pure and simple.

I loved The Force Awakens. It sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise (I’m not! I swear!) when I say it was exactly what it needed to be, a wonderful soft reboot/sequel for a new generation, a whole freaking mountain of fun, and it felt like raw, undiluted Star Wars again. I loved the new protagonists in Rey, Finn, and Poe; I loved the new antagonists in Snoke, Hux, and Kylo Ren. I was all prepared to love Captain Phasma, not just because she looked great and a Stormtrooper elite officer is such a good idea, but because it’s blissful to see more women in Star Wars and Phasma happens to be played by one of the raddest actors working right now. I’m not even a huge Game of Thrones fan, but as far as I’m concerned Gwendoline Christie can do no wrong.

I’m aware she’ll likely be a big deal in the next two movies. I’m also aware her role in the marketing and press tours seemed to be hugely amped up in response to the very fair “Why are there hardly any women in this movie?” backlash when the cast was first announced. And, frankly, if you’re one of those folks who judge her late casting as unfair pandering when almost all of the characters in the movie are still male, then go fuck yourself.

We were even treated to direct comparisons, such as in this very quote:

“She is a Boba Fett-style character, which means she makes a lot of impact but she’s not at the forefront of the action all the time.”

So, I get it. She was caught between a rock and a hard place from the start: heavily marketed for obvious reasons, and with great expectations because of her casting. What would’ve been a comedic and/or throwaway character had far higher expectations because of the info released surrounding her. And yes, there’s surely great stuff to come. But that quote is sort of key to the whole deal. That part about impact.

So let me tell you why Captain Phasma isn’t TFA’s Boba Fett.

Get comfortable.

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For the sake of fairness, we’ll ignore Return of the Jedi. We can ignore his sleazy-cool underworld flirting with Rystall and Lyn Me in the Special Editions. We can forget the cool way he jetpacks into the action right when things kick off above the Sarlacc. Similarly, we can ignore the hilariously awesome pulpy death inflicted by a blind Han Solo. I don’t want to ignore them – and a lot of his Jedi moments, brief as they are, only add character to him anyway, further making my point – but it’s not fair to give him two movies.

Let’s ignore everything in the old Expanded Universe, too. Let’s just stick to The Empire Strikes Back, where Fett first shows up to the majority of the world. (This doesn’t count, and even if it did, we’re ignoring it for the purposes of fairness.)

Phasma gets one movie where she’s introduced. Let’s do the same for Fett. Fair’s fair. People loved Boba Fett after Empire – his Jedi appearances and all the stuff he does in the EU are irrelevant.

Like I said above, the reason Boba Fett became such a beloved character was his presentation. It was a bit of a masterclass in how to write and present secondary characters. Several characters (characters we already love and/or respect) treat Boba Fett like he’s very serious business. That’s crucial. No one smack-talks him. Similarly, he directly affects the movie’s plot in brief but significant ways, and in ways no one else has the skills to do. That matters just as much.

That doesn’t sound like much, really. And yet, it’s everything. This is some core stuff to how to write believable characters. How other characters relate and react to them. What influence they have on the events of the plot. Super-crucial stuff that informs the reader and viewer about that character’s place in the story – and within the setting itself.

Let’s be specific, though.

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  • Captain Phasma sees one of her stormtroopers showing signs of deviancy and either does nothing about it, or fails to fix it. The first time we see her interacting with another character, we see her fail at the thing she’s attempting to do, either because Finn escapes too soon or the reprogramming/punishment doesn’t stick. That’s fine! The bad guys can’t win them all. But in context, it doesn’t do her any favours given that this is how she’s introduced.
  • We see several ground battles involving stormtroopers, none of which really show her doing anything at all. Imagine if Phasma had been the one to duel Finn instead of TR-8R, only to be hurled back from the killing blow at the last minute. She’d be significantly more dangerous, having nearly killed Finn. But I digress. We rarely see her actually being any good at her job – at what she’s supposed to be excellent at in the story. When presenting characters, that matters a hell of a lot.
  • She gets captured by Han and Finn with a hilarious lack of effort. They pull a gun on her, and that’s that. Nothing in that scene infers or shows anything of particular competence or capability, either. Her job is to be one of the top-level (possibly brainwashed/psycho-conditioned?) elite soldier officers of the First Order. And yet…
  • She capitulates to Han’s demands with no resistance at all, selling out Starkiller Base’s defence codes without putting up even a modicum of a fight. Not even resisting. All while Finn is smack-talking her in his charmingly funny way.
  • She then vanishes off-screen, apparently disposed of (no pun intended) in a particularly Star Wars-esque comedy fashion: a trash compactor.

And that’s that. At no point do we see characters actually displaying any fear of her – with the exception of Finn, who’s already in mid-nervous breakdown when she warns him he’s being a bad boy. Her threats lose a lot of gravitas there because Finn’s already emotionally engaged in his own issues, and he doesn’t show a huge amount of concern beyond the fact he’s already freaking out.

Ultimately, at no point does she really affect the plot except through her failures and her incompetence at her job. She doesn’t do anything. She’s passive. Things happen to her.

Boba Fett (who, as so many memes are saying “never did anything”) was the exact opposite of that. Look at how he affects the plot, and how other characters react to him. Look at how good he was at his job (and his role in the story). He does a bunch of things – some subtle, some off-screen and inferred, and some on-screen and obvious – that just bleed character.

Look at how those elements come together to show why he was so beloved:

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  • This is a character that Darth Vader – Darth fucking Vader – has to warn about not being too violent. Vader wants the Falcon’s crew alive, and he singles out Boba Fett from all the bounty hunters, to say the classic line: “No disintegrations.” The fact Fett was already there with the other bounty hunters ready to be hired by the Empire’s big cheese to chase some of its most important prey, well, that says a lot. But this is the one guy out of all those scum with the darkest reputation, the one that gets singled out. This is a man that Darth Vader (who, lets remember, everyone is terrified of) has to tell to calm the fuck down. That establishes character.

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  • When the Empire loses track of the Millennium Falcon, and when Han Solo has just pulled off his awesome trick that even Princess Leia honestly compliments (after spending the whole movie teasingly mocking him), Boba Fett is the one to outfox them. The Falcon drifts away in the Star Destroyer’s garbage… then flies away unseen. Except for the fact that Boba Fett played the same trick, and follows the rebels. That’s how fucking good at his job he was. Han Solo pulled one of his coolest tricks, and Boba Fett was waiting for it.

Vader-and-Fett

  • Oh, man. What a moment. That awesome moment when we see Darth Vader has been waiting on Bespin for the rebels, and they’re now well and truly fucked. “I had no choice,” Lando says as he’s selling Han and Leia out, right to their faces. “They arrived right before you did.” Vader performs his rather cool dinner conversation “We would be honoured if you would join us…” and who should walk out from stage right? Why, that would be Boba Fett. The man who led Darth Vader to the rebels. The man who told Vader not only where the rebels were going, but he worked it out before Han and Leia arrived, letting the Empire get the drop on our beloved heroes. In case it needs spelling out again, this is called Being Good At One’s Job, as well as Affecting The Plot. Fett is the architect of why the protagonists are fucked in the darkest part of the second act of the trilogy.

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  • As already mentioned, part of what makes Boba Fett work in how he’s presented is in how other characters react to him. It establishes his presence in the story and place in the character hierarchy, so to speak. On Bespin, there are two characters that argue with Darth Vader. One of them is Lando Calrissian. Lando is frustrated by being humiliated and deceived by Vader (whom he calls “Lord Vader” with respect at all times.) Vader couldn’t care less. “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it further.” The other is Boba Fett. Vader  gives Fett exactly what he wants. “You may take Captain Solo to Jabba the Hutt after I have Skywalker.” Fett argues back: “He’s no good to me dead.” Vader assures him that Solo won’t be permanently damaged. When it looks like Han might not survive the carbonite freezing process, Fett again calmly challenges Vader about it – and Vader assures him “The Empire will compensate you if he dies.” The difference in how these two characters treat Vader, and are treated by Vader, is immense.

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  • What was Boba Fett’s goal, as a character in the movie? To capture Han Solo. Here’s a picture of him saying “Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold”, which are words I find way more inspiring militarily speaking than “Mission Accomplished”.

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  • When Boba Fett is leading Han Solo, in carbonite, towards Slave I, Luke Skywalker is sneaking through the hallways of Cloud City, ready to undertake a rescue. There’s a moment when you see Luke watching Fett, several Cloud City staff, and a few stormtroopers walk past – and (still in hiding) Luke quietly unholsters his pistol. Boba Fett turns his fucking head at the sound. Fett keeps walking and Luke thinks he’s undetected. He sneaks up a little further once the parade has gone by, and hushes R2 who’s being a jerk. Just when Luke’s peeking around the corner again and everything’s silent, Boba Fett springs back and starts blasting. He knew Luke was there. He doesn’t want to kill Skywalker – he doesn’t give a shit. He’s bailing now he’s got what he came for. But Luke’s stealthed around just fine so far, until Boba Fett opens up on him.

 

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  • And then, of course, there’s this classic moment. Boba Fett, whose patience for bullshit is so monumentally thin, that when Chewbacca starts showing any resistance at all he decides to murder the poor hairy fucker. This is a character who – again – Darth Vader, that guy who cuts old men in two, tortures Han Solo without asking questions, and strangles his own allies with magic – tells to settle down. This is a legendarily violent and dangerous dude.

And that’s the difference, more or less. Christ, it pains me to defend Boba Fett. Has there ever been a character so heartily and heavily fanwanked in the history of geekdom? Admittedly, a chunk of that rose from his endless, endless EU appearances, but still. It doesn’t change the facts, Jack: people who say Fett doesn’t do anything are wildly missing the point. Fett doesn’t need to posture or pose or run around blasting endlessly. He comes across as dangerous and intriguing and competent because of his role in the story, what moments in the plot happen directly because of him, and the way other characters react to him. That’s good characterisation.

Captain Phasma has almost none of that.

But, y’know, she probably will. At the very least, she’s been set up for a hell of a rehabilitation after that poor showing. I’m sure vengeance is on the cards. That’ll be awesome.

 

January 9, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

45 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on LD10 and commented:
    Granted, my relationship to Boba Fett is covered by what ADB describes as “heavily fanwanked”, but he sure as hell covers why in this article. More importantly, he spotlights MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY on Phasma. A great read.

    Comment by Payce | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  2. Holy shit you truly have opened up my eyes on this matter! Good one ADB, you’ll get a cookie for this!

    Comment by Forkmaster | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  3. One theory being batted around is that Finn – despite the bait-and-switch at the end of TFA – actually *IS* Force sensitive. He defied the First Order’s brainwashing (in the same way that Rey does to Kylo), he’s got super-fast, almost pre-cognitive reaction speed (such as shooting TIE fighters down in a split second, like Luke did in ANH and why Anakin is the only human who can safely pilot a pod racer) and he sort-of knows where Rey is being held captive, even though he’s got an entire planet to search (Leia sensing Luke in TESB-style).

    If all this is true, it changes the scene where he captures Cpt. Phasma dramatically. It goes from an elite badass supersoldier giving up without a fight, to a proto-Jedi giving her the old “You will take me to Jabba” treatment.
    After all, Snoke says that there has been ‘an Awakening’ – no one ever says that such an event is just one person, and that it’s definitely just Rey.

    Might be trying too hard to predict a plot, I admit, but the Star Wars films are cyclical, calling back to each other in theme and content, and the were precious few events in the original series more surprising than there being TWO potential Jedi by the end of RotJ.🙂

    Comment by Luke Campbell | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • You shouldn’t need a second movie to make the first movie work. What we are shown is an incredibly lax first order lead by a mysterious Not!Palatine, seemingly competent human officer, extremely powerful yet pathetic dark Jedi and bumbling shiny holofoil stormtrooper.
      They have somehow pulled out a superweapon from the Imperial stash and are terrorising the galaxy with it.
      Against them are bestpilot, mom and dad who broke up and introducing Competency Lass, a girl who lives in the wreckage of a million childhoods and for whom no task is too difficult, be it physical, technical or mystic.

      It’s a fun movie, like Guardians of the galaxy, but it does not meaningfully contribute to the Star Wars saga.

      Comment by Anthony Shannon | January 9, 2016 | Reply

      • You’re calling Kylo Ren pathetic? You have no argument. The dude gets hit by an insta-kill anti-tank laser gun (that sends everybody else bouncing off the walls twenty freaking feet away) and just decides to walk it off and keep fighting.
        Although, to be honest, I think ADB was right.
        “If you genuinely use ludicrously meaningless and inappropriate words like “emo” and “weak” to describe a nuanced character like Kylo Ren, then none of your fellow humans will be able to drag you from your miasma of foolishness, no matter how well intentioned they are in trying to do so.”

        Comment by megasolipsist | January 9, 2016

  4. Great read. I was on the anti-Fett bandwagon, and desperately wanted Phasma to be the new OMG SO KEWLZ!!1 breakout character, but… jeez, how can that be my stance after reading this. Obi-Dembski Bowdenobi, you have convinced me. And that gif of Vader lowering Fett’s gun in a resigned “oh ffs…” way is just becoming funnier the more I watch it.

    Comment by triceratopping | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  5. Absolutely nailed it. Nothing else needs to be said.

    Comment by Daniel | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  6. cockfags?

    Comment by aa logan | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • Comment by Lindon Layton Best | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bN62MmT-lw – Please see this link for an explanation.

      Comment by Lindon Layton Best | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • It’s an amusing and highly appropriate reference to the farcical movie Team America

      Comment by Ryan | January 10, 2016 | Reply

      • Just because something is a reference to a film, it doesn’t automatically make it appropriate.

        I found the casual homophobia a touch jarring, and out of place with the usual tone of the blog.

        Comment by aa logan | January 10, 2016

      • Hey, aa logan.

        Honestly, I hadn’t considered that (and I’m a big believer in the notion of “impact not intent” in regards to language like homophobic/racial slurs) so thanks for pointing that out. That quote always springs to mind in terms of dickheads ambushing people, and I just ran with it. I’ll edit it out now – it’s not like it actually adds anything, anyway.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 10, 2016

    • It’s a Team America quote; a go-to slice of moronic-macho dialogue for jerks being jerky.

      (Edit: Beaten to the explanation. D’oh!)

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 10, 2016 | Reply

      • I’m not trying to be a dick, Aaron, but quoting it out of context made *you* sound a lot worse than a jerk being jerky

        Comment by aa logan | January 10, 2016

      • Naw, no worries! You didn’t come across as being a dick at all – I edited it out while you were typing that reply just now. (See above, in Ryan’s replies.)

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 10, 2016

      • Thank-you Aaron.

        The article is dead good, by the way.

        Comment by aa logan | January 10, 2016

      • De nada, chum.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 10, 2016

      • I guess that the lesson here is that offence can’t be dictated by author, it can only be received by the reader – it’s then up to the author to respond accordingly.

        Jeez, filled with warm fuzzy feelings at this outcome – like I’ve been filled with raccoons with scabies…

        Comment by Lindon Layton Best | January 10, 2016

      • And those are the tasticrunchiest kinds of raccoons. Everyone wins!

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 11, 2016

  7. While I can appreciate your analysis and agree. In the future you could do without all the cursing buddy. Your point would have been well taken without all the sass talk. You came across like you wrote this article when you were HIGH. Try to relax next time. Have a little common curtousey.

    Comment by Eric | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • Lol Americans :-p

      Comment by Dukeleto | January 9, 2016 | Reply

      • +1 Dukeleto

        You’re entitled to your opinions and sensitivities Eric, but you’re in the wrong place to avoid cursing. I’d also argue Aaron uses his swearing amusingly and that it enhances his jokes, I don’t feel like he relys on swearing for humour in the way many comedians and writers do.

        That said, I’m Australian so prefer ‘British’ dry humour to American ‘humour’, and was disappointed the article didn’t contain more C bombs.

        Comment by Ryan | January 10, 2016

    • What the fuck.

      Comment by Bradley Lerner | January 10, 2016 | Reply

  8. Phasma would POWN Fett in a fist fight.

    Comment by bigblackfiend | January 9, 2016 | Reply

    • Yes, have you seen the nasty serrations on her gauntlets??

      Comment by Dukeleto | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  9. I think the problem is that as a outsider and a loner Fett is able to be competent, on the whole Imperial (and first order) ranks are beset with low level incompetence which allows the heroes to escape time after time. In The Empire Strikes Back the only competent Imperial Officer able to do the job given to him is General Veers who commands the AT-AT attack on echo base, personally destroying the shield generator, everyone else fails miserably and Vader knows this which is why he gets in outside help to search for the Millennium Falcon, It was a very good decision George Lucas made making Fett a bounty hunter rather than a ‘super stormtrooper’ he was originally conceived as.

    I don’t think Captain Phasma can be a cog in the First order machine and do competent things. At least they did not give her anything she could be competent at. During the Attack on the Jakku Village she is not leading the assault, she strolls up after the shooting has stopped to massacre some villagers, if she’s a master strategist we don’t see it, if she’s a dangerous fighter we don’t see it, if she’s an inspiring leader we don’t see it, purely from the film we have to assume she was promoted purely on the basis of wining the shiniest armour contest, or that people 6’3″ are given a fast track career path. What does the film tell us? She’s a sadist, enjoying (and suggesting) massacring the villagers, she’s a personnel manager, and she’s a bit of a coward when she does not have the upper hand, basically her character is the ‘Party Member’ archetype, promoted for her ideological devotion rather than her abilities, if that was the film makers intent they succeeded very well, and perhaps it tells us something about the first order, though maybe they should have managed peoples expectations a bit better!

    Everything surrounding her is a bit of a mess, everyone here probably agrees her character was pre hyped a bit for PR reasons, and it’s likely some of her time on screen was cut, (I’ve heard there might have been up to 30 mins of deleted scenes in total for the film) for starters I don’t think we even see her at the ruins of Maz’s castle, yet she’s there in the promotional screen shot you had in your piece, and a lot of the infiltration of the Starkiller base was cut, so if there was a more aggressive response to Phasma lowering the shields as she promised, we missed it, and the original conception of the character (before it was decided to cast a woman in the role) was most likely purely for merchandising purposes, of course you can say that about the film too!

    I don’t think her and Finn having a sword fight would have been very good, as you can’t have significant characters fight hand to hand and both parties escape mostly intact to fight another day more than once in a film before it gets silly, Fin fighting the riot trooper was great, as he was totally thrashed, and it demonstrated the hatred of him that had developed in the rank and file, while you would assume Phasma would already be displeased with him. Phasma surviving being shot down by Han would weaken the established chekhov’s gun that the bowcaster was enough to kill a normal human several times over, which is very important to explaining how Kylo Ren had been weakened later on. It would have also scratched that nice armour!

    Personally I did not have a lot riding on the characters success or failure, the overall movie was great, maybe next time she will paint her armour black in shame for the terrible ‘day in the office’ she had and come back with something significant to do, though that’s not what I’m going to be waiting 23 months to find out!

    Comment by Joseph | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  10. Nice one, she was wasted in TFA, one of the few things I didn’t love about it. As you say. I’m sure she will be chasing Finn HARD in the sequels.

    Comment by Dukeleto | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  11. I think the problem is that as a outsider and a loner Fett is able to be competent, on the whole Imperial (and first order) ranks are beset with low level incompetence which allows the heroes to escape time after time. In The Empire Strikes Back the only competent Imperial Officer able to do the job given to him is General Veers who commands the AT-AT attack on echo base, personally destroying the shield generator, everyone else fails miserably and Vader knows this which is why he gets in outside help to search for the Millennium Falcon, It was a very good decision George Lucas made making Fett a bounty hunter rather than a ‘super stormtrooper’ he was originally conceived as.

    I don’t think Captain Phasma can be a cog in the First order machine and do competent things. At least they did not give her anything she could be competent at. During the Attack on the Jakku Village she is not leading the assault, she strolls up after the shooting has stopped to massacre some villagers, if she’s a master strategist we don’t see it, if she’s a dangerous fighter we don’t see it, if she’s an inspiring leader we don’t see it, purely from the film we have to assume she was promoted purely on the basis of wining the shiniest armour contest, or that people 6’3″ are given a fast track career path. What does the film tell us? She’s a sadist, enjoying (and suggesting) massacring the villagers, she’s a personnel manager, and she’s a bit of a coward when she does not have the upper hand, basically her character is the ‘Party Member’ archetype, promoted for her ideological devotion rather than her abilities, if that was the film makers intent they succeeded very well, and perhaps it tells us something about the first order, though maybe they should have managed peoples expectations a bit better!

    Everything surrounding her is a bit of a mess, everyone here probably agrees her character was pre hyped a bit for PR reasons, and it’s likely some of her time on screen was cut, (I’ve heard there might have been up to 30 mins of deleted scenes in total for the film) for starters I don’t think we even see her at the ruins of Maz’s castle, yet she’s there in the promotional screen shot you had in your piece, and a lot of the infiltration of the Starkiller base was cut, so if there was a more aggressive response to Phasma lowering the shields as she promised, we missed it, and the original conception of the character (before it was decided to cast a woman in the role) was most likely purely for merchandising purposes, of course you can say that about the film too!

    I don’t think her and Finn having a sword fight would have been very good, as you can’t have significant characters fight hand to hand and both parties escape mostly intact to fight another day more than once in a film before it gets silly, Fin fighting the riot trooper was great, as he was totally thrashed, and it demonstrated the hatred of him that had developed in the rank and file, while you would assume Phasma would already be displeased with him. Phasma surviving being shot down by Han would weaken the established chekhov’s gun that the bowcaster was enough to kill a normal human several times over, which is very important to explaining how Kylo Ren had been weakened later on. It would have also scratched that nice armour!

    Personally I did not have a lot riding on the characters success or failure, the overall film was great, maybe next time she will paint her armour black in shame for the terrible ‘day in the office’ she had and come back with something significant to do, though that’s not what I’m going to be waiting 23 months to find out!

    Comment by Joseph | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  12. Personally, Kylo Ren is a damn good villain, he hits the right spots of a character dealing with evil. He is very nuanced. But he IS a terrible antagonist. His competence in comparison to the protagonists decreased rapidly through the film, while the protagonist began to win.

    Comment by Luiz Perigault | January 9, 2016 | Reply

  13. Fantastic article Aaron, spot on with every point, I appreciate you taking the time to settle this argument. You also highlight your excellent understanding of story and character, which is why you have such a dedicated fanbase.

    Reading this gave me a eureka moment about Corswain and why he became so popular. Speaking of, please write more Corswain😉

    Comment by Ryan | January 10, 2016 | Reply

  14. To be fair, Captain Phasma’s a Stormtrooper. An elite Stormtrooper, but still a Stormtrooper. It’s practically in her job description to be incompetent.

    Comment by Mathieu Comeau | January 10, 2016 | Reply

  15. Loved the whole article, but this has been bothering me more than people dismissing Phasma for her poor intro.

    “If you genuinely use ludicrously meaningless and inappropriate words like “emo” and “weak” to describe a nuanced character like Kylo Ren, then none of your fellow humans will be able to drag you from your miasma of foolishness”

    Like Phasma, I’m similarly looking forward to a vengeful return for a more focussed and dangerous Kylo Ren, who I thought was portrayed perfectly as a young man heavily conflicted with his past and struggling with the dark side’s influences on him.

    But Rey was the show stealer for me, she reminded me why I used to think Jedi were awesome before the prequels turned them into sexless weirdos.

    Thanks Aaron🙂

    Comment by Wednesdae | January 10, 2016 | Reply

    • I like you, and I like the words you say. Please continue to say them, thus being a net force for good in the world.

      Formal directive complete.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 10, 2016 | Reply

  16. […] Captain Phasma & Boba Fett […]

    Pingback by More Force & Stuff – Liatach.net | January 10, 2016 | Reply

  17. Great analyses as always, Aaron. I totally get the points you make about The Fett and how Cap’n Phasma doesn’t measure up in that way.

    I also couldn’t agree more with your take on Kylo Ren, either – even his nuances have nuances! I loved the way the script presented his vulnerability in the subtler moments. Unflinching killing torturing machine one moment, emotionally damaged & vulnerable child the next, ready to lash out at anything that (he thinks) threatens him. Makes him even more dangerous in a way – really put me in mind of Talos and Sevatarion.

    Comment by Vijay | January 10, 2016 | Reply

  18. how dare you blaspheme against the Holy Works of Karen Traviss the Mandowank Queen of the Underworld

    Comment by TheSGC | January 11, 2016 | Reply

  19. The problem with Kylo Ren is that the film gave every impression of expecting us to sympathize with the worthless little shit-stain.

    Partly, I suspect the issue is that, JJ Abrams being allergic to exposition, the film gives us absolutely no reason to think that his self-pity or rage is in any sense justified. Raised as he was by powerful and presumably rich parents who evidently loved him. And unlike Anakin who clearly had a lot of issues which the dysfunctional order he was part of did absolutely nothing to address.

    So when he murders like 30 people in cold blood and the next thing we hear out his mouth is “yeh but what about my deep emotional pain” he just comes across just monumentally self-centred and utterly pathetic. Fuck off and stop murdering people, Ben.

    Now this has the makings of a good villain. The guy has “school shooter” written all over him. His self-pity and lack of self-control, his fits of rage, his habit of nursing false grievances to justify his violence, plus his evident power. But the problem is the film itself doesn’t seem to recognize this, it wants us to sympathize with his ‘predicament’ (which as far as anyone can tell is him waking up one day and deciding to turn to the dark side) and perhaps even hope for his redemption in later films in a way that is deeply off-putting.

    Comment by Tim Ward | January 16, 2016 | Reply

    • Oh my goodness, thank you for articulating so perfectly what was bothering me about Kylo Ren. That’s it exactly.

      Comment by Carrie | March 17, 2016 | Reply

  20. Very well argued point

    Comment by battybattybats | January 16, 2016 | Reply

  21. […] However, this is a minor quibble, and less about Rey’s character than where The Force Awakens puts its focus. Or, if you want it tersely: Rey’s great, and I think she’ll only get better. More like her, please. Captain Phasma? Not so great. Actually, not remotely great. I’d go into details as to why, but Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s already covered it off quite nicely, so go read his thoughts instead. […]

    Pingback by A Rey of Light – The Tower of Stars | January 24, 2016 | Reply

  22. […] Fett, the apparently best bounty hunter in the galaxy.  There’s a fascinating discussion over here  about the difference between Captain Phasma in Episode VII and Boba Fett that I’m inclined to […]

    Pingback by Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – Review | EJ Davies | February 22, 2016 | Reply

  23. What if she is his daughter?????

    Comment by Joshua bonnell | May 11, 2016 | Reply


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