I think she's strongly written.
"Spotlight stealing": Rey is instantly loved, admired and desired by everybody including her enemies (BB-8, Finn, Han, Chewie, Kylo Ren, Snoke etc), even when this compromises story logic and character backgrounds. Some examples:
- Leia passionately hugs the complete stranger Rey after the death of Han (and supposed death of her son at Rey’s hand) while old friends Chewie and Leia completely ignore each other. This is classic Sue writing: only the Sue’s POV and glorification counts, the fact that Leia and Chewie are old friends and the emotional link to dead Han, and have always hugged before (Han's carbonite scene etc) is irrelevant;
- Rey takes-over the captain and piloting position on the MF after Han dies (she sits in the pilot seat) – Chewie the 600y Wookie remains the copilot on his own ship of a 19y old woman they just met a few hours before (Sues start at the top);
- Rey the lowly scavenger is sent on the most important Resistance mission to find Luke - but not his sister Leia (who “desperately” was looking for him) or other resistance fighters who know Luke! Rey walks up the island, Luke’s old friends Chewie and R2-D2 mysteriously stay back waiting with the ship (Sue is center). The mission was to bring Luke back, not to send him somebody who he can train there on the island.
- debatable: Kylo removes helmet before Rey, though from the narrative POV it would have made sense that he only shows his face to Han (Sue is center);
- even light sabers and dead OLD MASTERS (Yoda, Obi Wan) call out to Rey, this never happened before with any other Jedi (even “Space Jesus” Anakin) - demonstrating how special Rey is.
"Better than You"/ "Copycat"-Sue: Rey regularly bests other character at their game, or rescues them and/or drains competence from them, thus compromising story and character backgrounds:
- The lifelong soldier Finn looks incompetent and foolish next to Rey (fighting, piloting, languages, Starkiller security and mechanical stuff), is physically beaten by her, and must be rescued by her many times.
- The main antagonist Kylo Ren, the 30 year old Master of the Ren (and Jedi killer), who is established as very powerful, is beaten, maimed and emasculated (broken saber) by Rey physically and on mind-level several times – all that despite of Rey having no proper Force or sword fighting training. He finally has to be rescued by a clumsy deus ex machina plot device (opening chasm) to be save from her.
- Rey constantly advises and bests Han (and Finn) with mechanical and engineering ingenuity regarding Han’s own ship, driving him to angrily leaving the cockpit ("Away Ball"), and resulting in him offering her a job quickly.
- Rey also replaces C-3PO as a translator, BB-8 seems completely useless because Rey does all the mechanics and engineering to repair and improve the falcon, and even hacks Starkiller!
“God Mode Sue” Rey has ad hoc abilities and powers, whenever the story needs her to look good, despite her story background of being a lowly, starving scavenger struggling to survive. Characters speak of her as if she was the second coming (Kylo: “She gets more powerful every moment”). Examples:
- Rey has sudden (pop-up) force abilities on Master-level (mind trick, telekinesis, mind reading) that took Luke and other Jedi several movies to learn.
- She has amazing stunt-piloting abilities with a bulky, unwieldy freighter (MF) and without a co-pilot (!) speeding and spinning thorough a graveyard and through a destroyer under heavy fire - without her having ever flown the MF before!,
-Rey has incredible aiming abilities, despite not having shot a blaster. She only misses one single shot, then blasts away all soldiers with one hit at a great distance.
-Rey can even hit with the Falcon turret even when she is not sitting on the turret gun, but piloting the freighter (“How did you do that ? I don’t know!”),
- Rey speaks all languages of the aliens she accidently meets, including "binary droidspeak" (it was establishes in the OT that humans can’t do that - Luke never could except with cockpit translator); she even speaks Wookie though Wookies are not space travelers/are not seen on Jakku.
- She is an ace engineer ("I bypassed the compressor") and rocket science mechanic;
- Rey even knows how to disable the security system on the Starkiller base (“The girl knows her stuff”).
- She is an incredible escape artist: she manages to escape the FO by using her ad hoc Jedi mind trick abilities, climbing and shooting skills.
- Rey despite her frail, half-starved condition is a master climber with great spelunking and stick fighting abilities.
- Despite being set up as a starving lowly scavenger woman, Rey has unblemished looks (typical Sue trait): she is the only young, beautiful woman around; she wears make up and lipstick and sports impressively white teeth and a posh theater accent despite of her background in poverty .
- Rey has a mysterious background, indicating she is very special.
Rey takes-over the captain and piloting position on the MF after Han dies (she sits in the pilot seat) – Chewie the 600y Wookie remains the copilot on his own ship of a 19y old woman they just met a few hours before (Sues start at the top)
hauntingly beautiful (with perfect make up, posh Brit accent, shaving, personalized wardrobe, shiny teeth etc)
who can do anything better than everybody, from languages, piloting, mechanics/engineering, climbing, shooting, fighting, Force using etc, even when untrained.
She was not depicted as a great pilot outside of one specific maneuver, which she couldn't explain at the time, but from precedence established in prior movies, the audience knows was from the Force.
I don't remember Rey's climbing or shooting skills being compared with any other characters. They weren't that remarkable to me.
She fought off a couple of unknown henchman. We have no way of knowing how great their fighting skills were to begin with, plus they were probably not expecting any resistance and were caught off guard. In the fight against Kylo Ren, her fighting skills had already been established, and he was badly injured, not trying to kill her, and had her on the run for most of the fight. Even a bad football team can beat a good one on "any given Sunday" as the saying goes.
She may have a potential for being a powerful Force user, but we can only compare her in this movie to an emotionally immature, unstable character who has yet to finish his training. Again, great Force potential for a specific individual has previously been established in this franchise.
Two, I know this might be subjective but I think Rey's personality and character subtleties make up for her overwhelming strength potentially making her bland. She is at times exuberant, fearful, starry eyed, insecure, surprised (especially at her own strength), sad, contradictory and angry.
Rey does have a quirk that influences her every move. It's insecurity.
In Rey's case, she's insecure about her own place in her world.
Since the main concern of Mary Sues is they're too strong to be relatable
And while I've provided at least 5 examples of Rey's insecurity,
Then what is the problem with being a Mary Sue if not relatability?
But have you never watched a film where you could relate to a character and thus enjoy the film more because of it?
Examples of insecurity: Her response to Han about the gun, her judgement of Finn before running away herself, her dreams of oceans only to wind up on an island alone, she is genuinely surprised every time she achieves something extraordinary, her looking at the old lady wondering if she'll wind up the same way, her telling Finn to stop holding her hand (most seem to think this means she's just asserting her self as independent but like her response to Han about the gun, it also masks her need to be wanted, they're both fronts). So there's 7 for you.
Of note, the reason she runs away isn't because of a fear of the unknown, it's a fear she'll take on this journey and won't be on Jakku for her parents to pick her back up.
It's true none of her insecurities impede on her force abilities but it does make her a bit of a wild card as we don't know what side she'll ultimately choose. (Her final push back on Kylo Ren is very reminiscent of Luke's push back on Vader, which was achieved through anger and therefore darkside) It also makes her incredibly dangerous which makes her journey interesting.
If you consider Luke tapped into Dark Side for some of his own abilities then it's possible he really is in fact partially responsible for Ren's attraction to the dark side.
I believe Rian will harmonize the films as he asked Abrams to make changes in his movie to fit his. What they are, I don't know but it is fun to speculate no? And isn't that a fun part of the SW universe? Geek talk and what ifs?
The "Mary Sue" debate is more a problem of over analyzing than theater experience.
Especially not only over analyzing Rey herself but also explanation given by the movie like Kylo being shot. Honestly why do guys think the movie shows this to us, to start a discussion on how a dark side user deals with injury or maybe simply to show that he isn´t at 100% for the fight?
It impedes him by Finn being able to get a hit on him at all.
He can't lift the lightsaber while Rey can.
His slumbering walk keeps him from running and his general lack of balance is shown when Rey gets the upper hand through the force.
A couple of forceful attacks and you can see him stumble backwards and fall which shouldn't have happened to any Jedi even with her extra force powers. Unless, of course, the pain from his wound was finally catching up to him. The tide of battle was turned because of the force but it wasn't the only deciding factor. There is no reason the force and his wound have to cancel each other out.
Oh and remember Finn and Rey were on a higher floor and had to climb down a ladder whereas all Ren/Ben had to do is just walk out and meet them. Though I do agree it would have benefited from showing this. As it stands it seems a bit bugs bunnyish lol.