In Like Finn: A Speculative Analysis of the Sequel Trilogy’s Most Misunderstood Hero

Greetings folks! The results of last week’s Tumblr poll are in, and the votes tallied. Finn won by a landslide!

So today, that’s who we’re going to talk about. Who Finn is, why he’s with the Resistance, and most importantly, what lies ahead for him in The Rise of Skywalker.

Join me under the cut!

A Brief History of Finn

So, just to get everybody up to speed, let’s quickly recap Finn’s story so far:

  • First, we meet Finn after a fellow stormtrooper gets shot by Poe. The stormtrooper doesn’t die instantly and Finn rushes over to help him. The trooper dies, but not before leaving a bloodied handprint over Finn’s helmet. This is the first and last time a random stormtrooper will receive this kind of sympathy and focus.
  • Later, Kylo Ren orders the destruction of the village. Finn is the only stormtrooper to not fire, leading to discipline from Captain Phasma.
  • The discipline obviously doesn’t take, because the next time we see Finn he’s breaking Poe out of First Order custody. The two men bond while gleefully gunning down stormtroopers with a TIE fighter’s laser cannons.
  • I’m going to skip ahead a bit here to when Finn meets Rey and BB-8. Finn pretends to be a Resistance member… only to finish Poe’s mission. He at this point has no interest in the Resistance itself. He also starts to intervene when Rey is jumped by several of Unkar’s goons, thus highlighting the key tension of Finn’s character: the urge to do what’s right versus self-preservation.
  • Finn and Rey bond quickly, but our next big Finn plot-point is when they meet Maz Kanata. Finn reveals his deep fear of the First Order and leaves the quest, not before begging Rey to join him. Of course, as soon as the First Order attacks Finn jumps right in, slaying several stormtroopers with a lightsaber and, once he gets ahold of a blaster, proving to be a better shot than Han was in the original trilogy.
  • Our next big plot point involving Finn is the extended Starkiller base sequence. Finn gives the Resistance the weakness of the base to the Resistance and volunteers to help disable it. He’s revealed as having worked in sanitation on the base (typical of low-ranking soldiers) and Han calls him out for it. Which is weird, because they explicitly brought a bag full of explosives and don’t need to know how to actually shut the shield generator down. They can just blow it up, no? At any rate, Finn displays a great deal of cunning in the base, and is in fact the guy who comes up with most of the plan.
  • Finally, Finn faces off against Kylo Ren, does way better than he should, and starts his slow transition to becoming a full-fledged Resistance member.
  • Finn spends most of The Last Jedi on a wild goose chase, but his arc does solidify a few things:
    • First, Finn’s primary motivation is his friends/new found family, not ideologies/glory/the past/victory/whatever
    • His joining, and even leading, the Resistance.

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Okay, now that the recap’s out of the way, let’s move on to controversial statement time:

Most Star Wars fans, Finn fans especially, don’t actually ‘get’ Finn. Anti-Finn fans are the most obvious, reducing him to the role of butt-monkey and comic relief. But pro-Finn fans are not much better, trying to insert Finn into heroic fantasies that are such ill fits for the character it sounds like they were written by Grant Morrison trying to do the X-Men again.

Here’s the thing: Finn is basically Peter Parker in Star Wars, especially Lee/Ditko Parker. He’s not interested in the wider conflict between the First Order and the Resistance, only in protecting his friends. Much like Peter’s primary motivations being, for years, looking out for Aunt May, his personal life, and what few friends he has. But these selfish motivations are balanced out by sense of responsibility and genuine heroism: both Finn and Peter gladly step up when evil’s at their doorstep and lay their lives down for their friends without a second’s hesitation. Even when said friends are telling them to let it go.

In short, Finn is a Classical Anti-Hero: a guy who is afraid, who doubts himself, who doesn’t believe he’s a hero… and goes out and does heroic shit anyway.

And Star Wars fans have never been good with this archetype. Han, who’s not quite a classical anti-hero but still far from the pure hero Luke was in the OT, gets most of his nuance stripped away by the fans and becomes a walking stereotype of James Bond. Who is also more nuanced than most fans will countenance but that’s a different topic for another day.

Anakin? Same thing. Either he’s uber-badass or he’s a whiny brat with no redeeming virtues.

I could go on, but the point is: Star Wars fans deliberately misrepresent Finn to fit a pre-existing narrative, one that has little to do with the character himself. In order to find out what J.J. has in store for Finn, we need to look at just what it is that Finn wants in life, how he goes about getting it and how he relates to the other characters.

So, What Does Finn Want?

Fortunately, this is the easiest question to answer, because the films are pretty explicit about it: Finn wants to leave the fighting behind and keep his new friends safe. Even at the end of TLJ, where Finn officially-officially joins the Resistance, the defeat of the First Order is a means to an end: to protect his friends. He doesn’t care about democracy or fascism or freedom or whatever, anymore than Han did in the OT. No, what Finn cares about, what gets him up in the morning, are Rey, Poe and Rose.

Finn’s Relationship With Rey

Given that Finn’s plans for retirement have consistently involved ‘getting away from it all with Rey’, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that he’s in love with Rey.

Does Rey return his feelings? Probably. Will Finn sacrifice himself for Rey? I’m sure he’ll try. Will she let him? Fuck no. Also about the staff we see Finn holding in the trailer: could be ship tease, where he’s holding his girlfriend’s staff, could just be a staff. Hard to say at this point.

Finn’s Relationship With Poe

After Rey, and possibly even before Rey, Poe is Finn’s most important relationship. In a very real sense it was Poe who freed Finn from the First Order by giving him a name, and they’ve been best friends ever since.

Does Finn love Poe? Yes. In a romantic sense? Eh, harder to say. Certainly Finnpoe seems to be John Boyega’s preferred ship, but that doesn’t mean much. Either way,  both the trailer and comments from J.J. indicate that Finn and Poe’s character arcs are going to be closely related in this film.

Relationship With Rose

Unquestionably, TLJ teased Finnrose. Which I don’t have a problem with, except that Rose wasn’t that well written in TLJ. So if J.J. goes this route, I hope Rose gets better writing.

Beyond that, I just don’t know. Their relationship was kind of shallow in TLJ, so it’s hard to say where J.J. will take it.

Relationship With Janna

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: adopted siblings. I doubt there will be any romantic sparks between them (Finn’s dance card is full already, let’s be honest here), and I don’t think Janna is Lando’s bio kid. Finn definitely isn’t. That said, I do think Finn and Janna will bond quickly and become a part of each other’s found family.

It fits with what we’ve seen of Finn, it fits with the overall themes of Star Wars, and it’s an easy way to bring Janna into the main group.

Relationship With Lando

I’m going to go more into this when I talk about Lando, but I think Lando’s going to adopt Finn to some degree.

Mostly because I think Lando’s going to adopt the whole main cast, really. That seems like something he’d do.

Relationship With Leia

Doesn’t have one. Which is a good thing for Finn, because he’s the only main character not screwed over by Carrie Fisher’s death. His character arc is free and clear.

Relationship With Kylo Ren

My sister summed it up best: as far as Finn’s concerned, Kylo Ren is his ex-manager’s manager. Finn doesn’t care about Kylo, probably doesn’t want to care about Kylo, and has no reason to care about Kylo. Other than as a speed bump on Finn’s way to protecting his friends, maybe.

Will there be a rematch between Kylo and Finn? No. Because again, Finn doesn’t care about Kylo Ren. There’s no heat there, no personal beef to make a rematch interesting. Plus we’ve already seen Finn beat Kylo once before, so who cares if he can do it again?

Nobody, that’s who.

Theories About Finn’s Future

So where does Finn go from here? Here are the most popular theories:

Finn Joins The Mandalorians!

Ha ha no. I love the Mando’ade as much the next Star Wars fan, believe me. They’re some of the best villains the franchise has ever produced…

Wait, did I say ‘villains?’ Yes, I did. Because despite what some people would tell you, the Mandalorians are steeped in the Dark Side. They are a war-worshipping gang of brutal conquerors with quasi-fascistic leanings. Villains of the piece.

But wait, you say! Both Satine and Sabine Wren tried to reform the Mandalorians! Right, which brings up two other problems with the whole Finn-joining-the-Mandalorians-and-leading-them-to-aid-the-Resistance plot:

  1. That plot rightly belongs to another, female character in the form of Sabine Wren.
  2. All attempts at reforming the Mando’ade have so far failed. Sabine even handed the freaking Darksaber to Bo-Kast, a known terrorist and Mandalorian supremacist!

So, in short: the Mandalorians are everything Finn’s been fighting against or running from, the plot belongs to a different character, and it’s not a very good plot to begin with. Next!

Finn Leads A Stormtrooper Rebellion!

As much as I’d love to see this on screen, it’s not going to happen.

Why? Because Finn demonstrably doesn’t give two shits about his fellow stormtroopers. Throughout two films he gleefully guns down his former comrades in arms, and they don’t seem to like him very much either. Remember TR-8R? Yeah, no love lost there.

In short, a cool plot that just doesn’t jive with what we’ve seen on-screen.

Finn Becomes A Jedi!

Now we’re getting somewhere. Finn has demonstrated some skill with a lightsaber, indicating he’s sufficiently strong in the Force to be trained (remember, everybody and thing in Star Wars is Force-sensitive. The question is how strong someone is in the Force not whether or not they can feel it) and more than anybody else in the franchise, Finn embodies Yoda’s admonishment about adventure and excitement to Luke. Finn very much does not want an adventure, but he’s more than capable of seeing one through when necessary.

The only question in my mind is one of crowding. The Jedi storyline is very much Rey’s, and seeing Finn tag along in it can cause Finn to lose some of his identity or just make the story feel like a retread of Rey’s. So I think Finn will become a Jedi after the main action of the movie.

Finn Becomes A Leader In The Resistance!

Well no fucking shit Sherlock. This part of Finn’s character arc has been repeatedly confirmed, starting with TLJ (there’s not much of a Resistance left, so they need all the help they can get plus Finn’s newfound commitment to the Resistance) to the trailer (Finn’s new get-up, he’s fighting alongside Poe against the First Order, etc).

So, Finn’s one of the new Resistance leaders, yay! What does that mean? Eh, I’m not sure. J.J. has confirmed that TROS is an adventure all three of our heroes go on together, which might conflict with Finn (and Poe’s, ’cause he’s getting a similar arc) leadership duties.

That’s all for today, I’ll see you next week!

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