The return of Star Wars to the Big screen on december of last year was an undeniable success with “The Force Awakens” making almost $1 Billion domestically and being crowned as the biggest domestic box office of all times.
A lot of discussion has been made about it. How it is just a remake of “A New Hope“, how it is just re-using elements but giving it’s own spins, How Rey is an awesome character, How Rey is a “Mary Sue”, and along Etc.
One thing certain, though, is the overwhelming positive reaction to the character of Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) and whom it was originally planned would die at the end of act 1 until J. J. Abrams changed it so he would live throughout the movie. This turned to have been a smart decision, considering how the popularity lead to Poe having his own ongoing comic series in Marvel and has been embraced by the fandom as one of the main characters.
Some people argue that this is because of Oscar Isaac’s charm while other believe it is simply because the character is that well written. Other people, myself included, believe it is because of a much simpler reason: Poe Dameron is a character who is truly heroic and idealistic to the heart. A Stark contrast to the so called anti-heroes and conflicted heroes.
What I mean by this is that Poe, throughout the movie, never stops believing in helping others or that there is always a way forward. From his very first line, told to an old man (Lor San Tekka), we see this aspect of his character:
It is a small line that ensures an old person that, because of them, there is hope.
Following this scene, BB8 alerts them that the first order is approaching and Poe tells Lor San Tekka they have to hide, to which Lor San Tekka says that Poe “Has to leave” because of the information in his hands. The implication being, giving Poe’s reaction, that he had not planned to leave, but rather stay and help everyone. it is only when prompted by someone that Poe tries to escape with the information.
Then, when The First Order arrives before he can escape and they manage to shoot his ship before he can’t leave, we have this scene during the battle.
After doing this, Poe tells BB8 to run, promising he would find him later and, as soon as BB8 leave, Poe picks up his gun and starts shooting stormtroopers from far away.
He doesn’t try to run, he doesn’t try to hide, his main objective is to try and help the villagers to fight back. This leads to him getting captured when he tries to save the villagers by shooting directly at Kylo Ren and, later on, being tortured at the hands by Ren himself.
THis also leads us to:
Now, at this point, Poe has been tortured by Kylo and his men and Finn, someone who he had never met before, says he is there to rescue him. Poe, instead of being suspicious, immediatly tries to confirm if they are with the resistance, which Finn denies but Poe still whole-heartedly agrees to work with him to escape. This is not done out of naivete, though, since he does ask Finn’s reasons to do this.
Finn, who desperately wants to escape and Poe is the only pilot he can count on, tells him he is doing it “because it’s the right thing to do”. The idea being that, if Poe knew Finn just wanted to escape, Poe would not trust him.
Poe is able to immediatly see through this and tell he needs a pilot, but he doesn’t care. He still agrees whole-heartedly to help Finn to escape together. He knows Finn’s reasons to help him, but still chooses to believethe good in Finn.
As they escape, we see Poe trying to calm Finn down as they are being shot. Calmly explains to Finn what he needs him to do and congratulates him when Finn shots the turrets down.
It is then here that we have one of the most meaningful scenes in the movie: Finn getting his name.
Once they have a second to breath, Poe asks Finn for his name, to which he respons “FN-2187” and then admit he doesn’t have a name beyond that.
Poe, upon hearing this, refuses to call him by his number and suggests the name Finn instead. He flat-out refuses to follow on the First Order dehumanization of their soldiers into mere serial numbers. But it is specially meaningful because Poe actually asks Finn if he is fine with that name. He specifically acknowledges Finn’s autonomy and his feelings on the name he suggest.
This is important because, the same way not wanting to call him FN-2187 represented his refusal to see Finn as a number like The First Order did, it represents Poe seeing Finn as a person with their own autonomy. He sees Finn as a person and, thus, respects him as such.
Later on, after leaving the movie for a while, Poe and Finn reunite and embrace each other (in a way that I am sure is platonic and not at all romantic)
Then, Poe sincerely thanks Finn for helping bring BB8 back to The Resistance and completing his mission and telling Finn; who earlier had confessed to not believe himself a hero; that he is a good man.
Like with Lor San Tekka at the start of the film, Poe ensures Finn he has done good and that without him things would have gone bad.
Then, after Finn tells Poe he needs help, Poe takes him directly to Leia and supports him in his decision to go rescue Rey.
Finally, during the attack on the Starkiller Base, Poe says the following line:
“When the sun is gone, the weapon will be ready to fire, but as long as there is light, we have a chance”
This is a very idealistic way of viewing things, that, until the very end, there is still a chance of succeeding. That, no matter how small said chance is, as long as it exists, that’s all you need. And you have to keep on fighting because of that.
Is it any wonder it is Poe the one who gives the finishing blow to the Starkiller Base?
Poe’s character is, to it’s core, and idealistic one. A Hero who chooses to do good because it is the right thing, who decides to trust people no matter who they are and who keeps fighting because he can see a chance no matter what.
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