If you want to be excellent at anything, it will take time and hard work. Even if you are naturally gifted, there are no shortcuts to success. You must acquire knowledge, practice what you have learned, and will often need a mentor.
This is the opposite of what happens in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015). The female protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley) becomes excellent at many things without any prior knowledge and minimal mentoring or training.
Rey is a Mary Sue, a “fictional character who is so competent or perfect that this appears absurd.” (This character type is not limited to females. The male equivalent is called a Larry Stu.) A Mary Sue can do things that should be beyond her natural abilities.
In the first half of the film, Rey is equal to men in her abilities, despite her lack of experience. She pilots the Millennium Falcon without a co-pilot and outmanoeuvres two TIE fighters. She makes repairs on the ship and intuitively knows things that the original owner, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), does not.
When Rey is captured by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), she uses the power of the Force to stop him from taking information from her mind. Then she reads his mind, discovering his greatest fear. Rey matches Kylo’s mind-control powers even though he has had many years of training with the Force.
After Kylo leaves, Rey uses the Force to make a Storm Trooper remove her restraints, and she escapes. In an earlier scene, when Finn (John Boyega) takes her hand to help her run from Storm Troopers, she says, “Stop taking my hand!” Rey is not a damsel in distress who needs a man to rescue her. She can rescue herself from any situation.
Rey is a Mary Sue because she never fails in her ability to do difficult things. Despite being a novice, she becomes proficient at everything she attempts within minutes. However, Rey’s characterization isn’t about women being equal to men (which they are).
Rey represents women who can achieve greater things than men. In the climax of the film, she becomes stronger than Kylo in her ability to use the Force. When her lightsaber is laying in the snow, and Kylo wants it for himself, they both try to summon it, but it comes to her hand.
In their duel, Rey defeats him, leaving him wounded on the ground. She defeats him even though she has never fought with a lightsaber before. (In the sequel to the film, The Last Jedi, Snoke (Andy Serkis) mocks Kylo for being “bested by a girl who never held a lightsaber.”)
As a Mary Sue, Rey is not limited by her lack of experience. She can do anything a man can and sometimes even more, even if the man has put more time and effort into developing his abilities. To quote from the TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, Rey is “better… stronger… faster.”
In previous Star Wars films, nearly all the Jedi are men. The Force Awakens should be praised for bringing “gender balance” to the Force. However, Rey’s abilities with the Force are unearned. She is untrained as a Jedi. She should not be superior (or even equal) to Kylo in using the Force.
Rey is an unrealistic character because she achieves success too easily. In the real world, women must work just as hard as men to be successful. Women can achieve the same (or even greater) things as men, but not when they have less experience.