A Stormtrooper walks along a road in a Disneyland theme park.

The Finn That Could Have Been

By Ashton Herman
Web Content Contributor

Being practically raised on “Star Wars,” I was ecstatic to see what the newest trilogy had to offer. And while the movies had their ups and downs, there was one concept that never sat quite well with me. The whole ordeal centers around Finn, a Stormtrooper who rebels against the First Order after realizing it’s evil ways.

It is revealed in the first movie of the trilogy that First Order Stormtroopers are kidnapped as children and undergo brainwashing to turn them loyal to the Order (a better summary of events can be found here). Finn, however, breaks this control after a skirmish on the planet Jakku turns into a brutal slaughter of civilians. After his sudden realization, Finn helps a Resistance fighter escape First Order captivity. This starts Finn’s narrative path of becoming a Resistance hero.

Now that’s all fine and dandy– but the problem arises when Finn, during the prisoner escape mentioned earlier, actively fires upon his fellow soldiers. From an entertainment perspective, his actions make sense. The two protagonists are fighting off the bad guys in a cinematic lightshow of artistic destruction, and everyone likes a good laser battle.

But what would have been more interesting in the long run, and what would have ultimately gave Finn more of a character arc, is if he hesitated

Finn knows that First Order soldiers are forced into the roles that they play, and anyone can rightly assume that if Finn can rebel, then others can too.

So then why would Finn, someone who genuinely cared about other Stormtroopers (as seen during that skirmish on Jakku), make a complete 180 on his personality and start to blast away at those who were once his friends? The trilogy misses out on a huge plot point, one that could have made Finn more of a complex character as opposed to what he is now. 

Ironically, after that escape scene, he blends into the “nameless shooter” gimmick more than other Stormtroopers, and Stormtroopers were made to fit that role. 

If Finn had hesitated during that fateful scene, or perhaps never even shot at all, the writers could have taken Finn down a variety of paths. Perhaps he would have to come to grips with the reality of war, slowly but surely becoming comfortable with the idea of attacking former friends. On the other hand, he could have become a pacifist and sought out a non-lethal means of combating the First Order. Instead, Finn is shoved into the generic gunman role, and in the end, becomes the very thing he swore to destroy.

Featured image retrieved from Creative Commons.

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