My experience with the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn over the last year had led me to wonder if he was the male equivalent of a “Mary Sue.” As defined in Wikipedia (which also has a useful bit about the history of the expression):
A Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character … Sometimes the name is reserved only for women, and male Sues are called “Gary Stus,” or “Marty Stus”; but more often the name is used for all sexes.
This becomes an issue when the main protagonist in a story is a Mary Sue/Gary Stu, because then there’s very little challenge or growth that happens to/for that character. As a result, you get an unsatisfying story with an unbelievable character. Most recently, however, this concept has become weaponized. It’s been used as a tool to attempt to delegitimize characters like Rey from The Force Awakens and Jyn Erso from Rogue One.
Thrawn – my entry point into the discussion – was basically a perfect character in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels. The only real “loss” he suffered was because of the Bendu – essentially a force (pun intended) of nature, and thus Thrawn’s loss here is no fault of his own, since it’s not an obstacle he had to later learn to overcome.
The new book had started out by shaping up to be the same thing. A well-nigh infallible Thrawn is pulling out seemingly impossible victories and arriving at surprising insights of which no one else is capable. So I polled a couple Star Wars Facebook groups to see whether other fans thought Thrawn was a “Gary Stu.”
The response was overwhelmingly in favor of him NOT being a Gary Stu, and I get into the rationale in today’s podcast. Ultimately, you’re going to hear why you won’t even be hearing about the concept of a “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” on the podcast again.
Related to that, I was compelled to consider that what Thrawn really is, is “OP,” or “overpowered,” as the gamers like to say. To explore this idea, I invited Scorekeeper Declan on the show to talk about being OP and to relate it to something Star Wars-y to help explain it – Star Wars: Battlefront.
I hope you enjoy the conversation, and let me know – does the “OP” idea here resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Trivia Time!Test your knowledge of the Star Wars universe!
Yesterday’s answer: Valene Kane (Lyra), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen), Ben Mendelsohn (Krennic)
Today’s question: Who play the stand-ins for Princess Leia, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Darth Vader?