Mined from the notebooks. December 24, 2015. Posted on January 24, 2016.
Two Musketeers: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are a likable pair of supporting players in search of an adventure to call their own in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Stories within stories. That’s what I enjoy most about the Star Wars movies. The old stories. The kind Sam Gamgee likes.
…the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.
And there’s another story that if it didn’t influence Lucas directly is still in Star Wars because it was influenced by the same old stories and those stories are in there.
In creating Star Wars, George Lucas was inspired by countless old swashbucklers, tales of chivalry and legends of derring-do, and boys’ (and girls’) own adventure stories. The ones that mean the most to me and so the ones I’m most on the watch for and am most thrilled by and moved by when they show up in the movies---the original trilogy, the prequels, and now The Force Awakens---are the tales of King Arthur and his knights. Obviously. But this time out I picked up on another favorite influence as well.
The Three Musketeers.
The connections aren’t thematic or directly plot related. They aren't matters of characterization,either, although they have to do with the characters. But it’s not that this or that character is Athos, Aramis, Porthos, or d’Artagnan. I could make the case that Han is a bit like Porthos, a showoff and braggart, but that would be beside the point, my point and the point of Han as a character. And, as far as it goes, when we first meet him, he’s like all three of the original musketeers rolled into one, a rogue and a scoundrel, in it for the fun and the money and the easy living, redeemed by the example of the noble and idealistic country bumpkin turned hero. The connection is in Poe’s and Finn’s relationship to Rey and their place in her story. And as things stand, in that story, they're secondary characters and their roles are similar to Aramis’ and Porthos’ in d’Artagnan’s story. They’re there to help out. Han takes Athos’ place as the older (much older; Athos, the Comte de le Fère, is around 30), wiser, because heartbroken and bitter, guide and steadying influence on our young and impulsive hero. Athos is interesting because of his backstory but he’s important to the main story because of his relationship with d’Artagnan’s chief adversary, Milady de Winter. Aramis and Porthos are likable and fun and they have lots to do, but nothing important of their own to do. They're supporting players and in their own different ways comic relief. In The Force Awakens, Poe and Finn are likable and fun and have lots to do---Finn a lot more than Poe---but they're still supporting players and in their different ways comic relief.
The Force Awakens sets up the new trilogy as Rey’s story the way the original trilogy was Luke’s story. The whole saga, however, is still Luke’s story. That’s one of the things I liked about The Force Awakens, that J.J. Abrams didn’t try to change that. And it looks as though Luke’s story will end the way the stories of so many legendary heroes’---Arthur, Robin Hood, d’Artagnan among them---stories end, with the hero’s final failure and death. (This suggests that over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe things do not bode well for Captain America.) Things will probably change, but the way they seem headed, Poe’s and Finn’s stories aren’t necessarily integral to Rey and Luke’s story. They don’t have to be and I think shouldn’t be. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if they’re made to be.
I'll be more than fine with it if their stories are nearly entirely separate and are used to expand the new expanded universe. What I’d really like would be if Poe’s and Finn’s stories become Poe and Finn’s story and the plot of that story is inspired by (that is, is swiped from) the plot of the first book of The Three Musketeers.
It wouldn’t need to be that Finn and Poe fit the roles of any of the Musketeers. As they are, Finn could be d’Artangan in that he’s young, naive, unschooled, and undisciplined but talented and a natural leader, but then Poe is the idealistic one. Finn wants out. Poe can't imagine being anything but in. And he's a natural leader too. Doesn’t matter. It’s the plot of "The Queen's Diamonds" I want to see them caught up in.
The problem with that, though, is sex.
There’s no place for a Milady de Winter in the Star Wars universe as Lucas created it. No place for any Constances either, and there’s no sign in The Force Awakens that Abrams intends to change that. In fact, Abrams seems to have more of a problem with grown-up women characters than Lucas had. Captain Phasma is likely going to turn out to be Rochefort to Finn’s d’Artagnan, to whatever degree Finn is d’Artagnan. A true femme fatale or a lusty love interest seem out of the question. But who knows. The next installment’s being written and directed by Rian Johnson, who has shown---in Looper and The Brothers Bloom, at any rate---that he’s not afraid of grown up persons of the female persuasion.
Other than that, though, Poe and Finn needing to join together to go on a rogue mission to steal something while both good guys and bad guys pursue them, with some intrigue, maybe some romance if not sex---that could make for a story interesting and thrilling in its own right, apart from any place it might have within the larger adventure.
As long as what they’re stealing aren’t plans for yet another Death Star.
Previous thought awakened: The once and future Jedi.