The Journey Without Finn
The “Journey to Star Wars: (insert latest saga film title)” label has been ever present since before the release of The Force Awakens. The books and comics labeled with the banner generally offer some background to the characters, with perhaps the best example being Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka, which dedicated a section to our three major heroes, Rey, Poe, and Finn. It’s no surprise to see Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker now gracing the covers of said books and comics leading up to the December film release, but what is surprising, or at least, disappointing, is the general absence or lack of interest in our favorite ex-stormtrooper turned rebel scum, Finn.
Of the three sequel films, this version of Journey to Star Wars offers the least amount of material for fans to consume of the trilogy. And while the version for The Last Jedi offered virtually nothing in the way of the main heroes, focusing rather on other characters or locations that film visited, it made some sense because this film picked up right where The Force Awakens left off. There was no background needed between the two films. The Rise of Skywalker, however, takes place a significant amount of time after The Last Jedi, with plenty of time for new adventures for our heroes as they seek to rebuild the nearly defeated Resistance. And we get those stories, Spark of the Resistance by Justina Ireland, Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse, and the Marvel Comics miniseries, Star Wars: Allegiance, and IDW Comics’ Star Wars Adventures (note: there are a few young children books as well). The one thing all these stories have in common is either the absence of Finn or the failure to give Finn much agency in his own stories.
Ireland’s Spark of the Resistance is a fun, enjoyable read, focusing on Poe, Rey, and Rose, and for an inexplicable reason, places Finn off on another mission. Scratch that entry out completely for Finn’s journey to The Rise of Skywalker. Star Wars: Allegiance, released somewhat contemporaneously with Spark of the Resistance, though chronologically set before it, did have Finn included in its parallel stories. One storyline featured General Leia, Rose, and Rey, heading to Mon Cala, to see if the Mon Calamari would contribute their mighty ships once again to a worthy cause. Elsewhere, Finn and Poe Dameron are relegated to seeking out caches of supplies for the impoverished Resistance movement. The stakes are big for the former, and well, the latter is essentially a side quest for the two that bonded over an escape from Kylo Ren’s star destroyer in The Force Awakens.
The storyline is introduced with Finn caught in a fight caused by him not recognizing a spy/connection in a seedy bar; then accidentally disclosing secret information that’s overheard by bounty hunters hot on collecting First Order credits for Resistance heroes. While the pair do find the supplies, they also find themselves in a fight against the bounty hunters (as an aside, the same group who show up in the Galaxy’s Edge miniseries); wherein, the former elite stormtrooper Finn, ends up knocking himself out when he fires a harpoon gun from an old snow speeder at one of the bounty hunters. This is literally the extent to which Finn is given any time alone as a character, driving his own story and devastatingly, he’s barely allowed to display the abilities his background and prior stories have granted him. Rebecca Roanhorse’s Resistance Reborn likewise pairs Finn with Poe, but almost in the manner of a sidekick.
To give Roanhorse credit, as well Allegiance, the team up of Finn and Poe has been an obviously natural one given the relationship built in the heat of battle in the first sequel film. But Finn just doesn’t have a story in Resistance Reborn, so much as he has places to be and a few minor moments that reflect either on the life he lived within the First Order (not understanding how to tie a tie) to his new identity as a rebel fighter (insisting on wearing a starbird pin). Through this all, however, it’s with Poe as the main protagonist. Finn’s presence is almost always predicated on Poe’s narrative, him finding Finn in a room with someone else, or Poe taking the lead on a Resistance mission. Finn has only the slightest appearance of agency, less so than other characters who have only been introduced in novels or video games.
In The Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker series of books and comic books, Finn has no major participation, and when he does, he’s at times, decidedly unheroic, almost to the lamentable degree that Star Wars Resistance plays up the bumbling hero, Kazuda Xiono. The only saving grace in any of this is the presence granted him in the final trailers for the actual film, where at least by appearances, he is granted at least a parity with his fellow heroes. And perhaps this came from John Boyega’s own advocacy, which he mentioned in a November 12th tweet to a fan. Finn deserves better, and not because Boyega is a fantastic human being, but because the character Boyega brought to life is a complex and fascinating hero, who’s arc began in First Order soldier/slavery and concluded with adopting the banner of resistance. To be clear, there are a lot of factors in play for when creatives work within a licensed property like Star Wars, and the titles mentioned in this article have been enjoyable and fun (outside of this issue). However, arguably, Finn has the most complex story of all the heroes of the sequel trilogy, and it’s a disappointing shame that there has been little to any exploration of him. Hopefully, with more time, we will get the Finn projects he deserves.