With Star Wars: The Last Jedi behind us and the impending end to the trilogy less than two years away, the internet is buzzing with plenty of positive and negative feedback. In our video review of the film, we were largely pleased with Rian Johnson’s take on the series but talked about John Boyega’s character Finn and how he wasn’t utilized well. Because we didn’t have the time to fully flesh out why that was, we’d like to go back and talk about what went wrong with Finn’s character arc, specifically the Canto Bight sequence, and how he could make a lasting impression on us in the ninth installment. You know how much we love the Rey and Kylo story arc, so it’s time to show another character that same love.
Starting off, no matter whether you thought the Canto Bight scene was a purposeful, thought-provoking part of the storyline or a complete waste of the audience’s time, there’s no denying that it’s a point of contention among fans. On the one hand, you have a nice message (albeit heavy-handed at times) that shows how people profit from the misfortune of others/war and how that changed Finn. On the other, you have a fairly clumsy execution that leaves Rose saying the whole mess was worth it because they were able to free a herd of space horses, completely overlooking the children space slaves who were very much imprisoned.
Altogether, the subplot was messy and didn’t work because it lacks the focus that other parts of the film have. We get why a casino had to be used. It’s a fun, lively atmosphere that offers plenty of bonuses to its players. This is a direct reflection of real-life casinos that often offer plenty of enticing bonuses to get you playing, such as the one at Zodiac Casino that nets players $500 just for signing up as taken from a review by Hannah Smith. Players often get lost in these bonuses and we see that same sense of wonder on Finn’s face as he enters the gambling hub. But by the end of the film, we felt most of Finn’s growth came from his decision to sacrifice himself for the Resistance, a choice he was scolded for rather than praised even though the opposite rang true for Admiral Holdo and her incredible hyperspace jump into the First Order fleet.
This makes for yet another conflicting character arc that Finn was unfortunately part of. To fix this, we’d like to see Finn front and center in the action for the next film. He’s had his time on the sideline and found growth even in a lackluster subplot, but he needs to be given the limelight again much the same way he was in The Force Awakens even though we felt he could have also been better utilized in the Abrams’ film. As Abrams takes up the role of director once again to cap off the trilogy, he should also do his best to stray away from the Finn/Rose love interest plot as the effort felt largely forced and out of nowhere as the two seemed to lack any sort of discernible chemistry.
We feel it would be a perfect, full-circle character choice to have Finn fighting side-by-side with Poe and Rey as the trio attempts to once again dismantle the evil First Order. In this, Finn can fight several stormtroopers and even get a chance to speak with another stormtrooper with their face revealed, putting Finn and the soldier at the same level and maybe even have Finn convert a few unsure cadets as the conflict comes to a climax. To take Finn from deserter of a cause he wants nothing to do with, to deserter of a cause he does eventually find himself a part of to spearheading the fight with that cause against all odds could be the perfect ending for Finn. We just want to make sure Finn gets the screentime he so deserves because, after all, a converted stormtrooper is not only the coolest of the new characters, but the most original as well among ace fighter pilots and chosen ones.
Plenty of people have high hopes for Finn, but we want to know where you see the First Order deserter in the next film. Tell us in the comments below!
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.