Be aware that the article you are about to read contains Rogue One SPOILERS.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story begins by framing a young Jyn Erso as an impressively equipped character. We’re not talking weaponry here – at a young age, she’s shown to be switched-on, bold and savvy. Both nature and nurture have played a hand in shaping her personality. We see her father, Galen Erso – a talented engineer drafted by the Empire to plan and build a deadly battle station known as the Death Star – and mother Lyra pass on words of wisdom. These include urging her to “Trust the Force”, and are intended to keep her safe and teach her what to do in a crisis.
When Jyn witnesses her mother being shot and killed by the Empire’s formidable Director Orson Krennic and her father taken to work on the Death Star project, she knows exactly what to do, and wastes no time doing it. Echoing sentiments uttered by Leia in the next chapter of the Star Wars saga (“We have no time for sorrows, Commander. You must use the information in this R-2 unit to help plan the attack – it’s our only hope”), she spares no time in grieving or lashing out. Instead, she runs and hides until the threat has passed and she’s found and taken in by family ally Saw Gerrera.
This isn’t the only characteristic Jyn has in common with Leia – and neither is it the only attribute she shares with other heroes from the Star Wars saga. We take a look at some of our favourite main players in the Star Wars universe and assess the common ground between them and Rogue One newcomer, Jyn Erso.
One similarity shared by all the heroes we’ll look at is absent parents. Like Jyn, Leia grew up separated from her natural parents – her mother, Padmé Amidala, died giving birth to Leia and her twin brother Luke, while her father, Anakin Skywalker, turned to the Dark Side and remained unaware of her existence. She was raised by adoptive parents, Queen Breha Organa and Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan.
Jyn has had a less privileged upbringing, raised by Saw Gerrera until the age of 16 at which point, we learn, he abandons her: it had become too dangerous to continue their association. Both women are, however, strongly influenced by their parents. Leia’s adoptive parents were involved with the Rebellion, and it becomes a cause close to Leia’s heart. Jyn’s parents were also skeptical of the Empire and in Rogue One we see Jyn’s memories of her parents via flashbacks, who both warn her in one way or another to resist the Empire.
Jyn also shares personality traits with Leia. Her interactions with the droid K-2SO mirror Leia’s early exchanges with both Han Solo and Chewbacca. Both initially have spiky relationships with their new associates, and each fire off barbed, witty retorts designed to infuriate. Both are sharp-tongued and quick-witted, with Jyn suggesting, “Maybe we should leave ‘Target Practice’ behind” in reference to K-2SO and Leia urging somebody to “get this big walking carpet out of my way”, about Chewbacca.
Jyn and Leia are also linked by the word ‘hope’. The concept of hope resonates with Jyn, shown when she repeats Cassian’s line: “Rebellions are built on hope” – a line she initially scoffs at. One of Leia’s most famous lines is “You’re my only hope” from her message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode 4, and she speaks the word in the closing scene of Rogue One.
One final thing to note – Jyn’s outfit when she arrives on Eadu to find her father links her visually with Leia. It echoes Leia’s Endor/speeder bike get-up.
Orphaned at a young age, Han Solo also grew up without his parents around. This led him to turn to crime. He became a thief and later, a smuggler. Jyn follows a similar path. After being rejected by guardian Saw Gerrera she fell into petty crime to survive, getting caught with unsanctioned weapons, and being arrested for aggravated assault, forging Imperial documents and resisting arrest.
Early in Rogue One we see her incarcerated and sent to work at an Imperial Labour Camp and, much like Han Solo might, she grabs her chance to escape as soon as she’s able. Like Solo, she finds it difficult to let her guard down and trust people but this is something both of them eventually learn to do. Han’s initial resistance to involve himself with the Rebellion (he’s drawn in by the promise of financial reward) is reflected in the way Jyn’s hand is forced (she’s rescued from the Empire’s clutches by the Alliance but given no choice in helping them out). Both do, however, eventually freely commit themselves to the cause.
Both clearly have a lot of residual angst from their childhoods which results in strong independent streaks, mistrust and hostility. Both, however, go on to channel this negative energy into a force for good, and learn to trust. “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad,” Jyn says to Cassian at the point where a group of rebel fighters band together to make a (loose) strategy to get hold of the Death Star plans.
Like Han and Leia who got off on the wrong foot only to fall in love, in Rogue One, Jyn is drawn much closer to Cassian following bristly early exchanges. Meaningful stares, lingering looks and general intimacy suggest a budding romance.
Luke’s unfortunate parentage (see Leia, above) resulted in him being separated from his twin sister and taken to live with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru on Tatooine. Like Jyn, he has unanswered questions about his father in particular – although in Luke’s case, his father’s whereabouts and his own origins are shrouded in far more secrecy.
As a result, he yearns to discover more of the universe, and is keen to follow in his father’s footsteps to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi. Because of his (inaccurate) theories about the hero his father was, he idolises and respects him at the start of Episode IV; this is similar to Jyn’s feelings towards her father.
Luke is naturally drawn to the Rebellion and all it stands for and doesn’t need his hand forced to become involved as Jyn does. Jyn ultimately embraces it in the same way that Luke does, as a way of avenging her father’s death and upholding his legacy.
Just as Galen drives Jyn, Anakin drives Luke – this is even more the case when he discovers his father’s true identity as Sith Lord Darth Vader and embarks on a personal mission to find the good in him and ‘save’ his father.
Like Jyn, Luke is a good pilot and good with weapons – even if it does take him a while to become proficient at the lightsaber, which The Force Awakens protagonist Finn, incidentally, picks up with ease!
The hero of Episode VII, Rey’s parents mysteriously left her on the desert planet of Jakku when she was young, leaving her to fend for herself. Like Jyn, separated from her parents, she became something of a loner and the two share the characteristics of intelligence, resourcefulness and sharpness.
Forced to find a way to survive within the forbidding landscape of Jakku, she gets by scavenging and has the nous to make a fallen AT-AT her home. Just as Jyn proves herself practical and adaptable in every situation she finds herself in – she locates and transmits the Death Star plans almost single-handedly – so does Rey, who gets herself out of some very sticky situations including escaping the clutches of Kylo Ren.
During her time on Jakku, Rey learned the necessary skills to get by and honed her fight skills – her weapon of choice is a quarterstaff which she uses dextrously. We see Jyn throughout Rogue One similarly skilled in combat, using close range weapons to take out her enemies.
Strong and independent like Jyn, Rey is also tough but not without hope – a theme that links the pair. She is optimistic about seeing her family again and feels a sense of love and loyalty rather than betrayal, which mirrors Jyn’s feelings towards her parents.
Rey has a curiosity about the past, and also the Resistance, and she prizes a rebel helmet she found – a leftover from the Battle of Jakku. Like Jyn who is haunted, driven and shaped by her past, so is Rey, and it’s this as much as a chance meeting with droid BB-8 and no actual alternative, that draws her into the fight against the First Order. Just as Jyn has no initial choice, neither does Rey, but both throw themselves head-first into the fight.
Finally, both Jyn and Rey are hot-headed, fearless and tenacious and are further linked by their dolls – we see Jyn’s stormtrooper doll picked up outside her hiding place in Rogue One’s early shots, and Rey’s rebel pilot doll on a shelf in her AT-AT home at the beginning of The Force Awakens.
We’re sure there are plenty more parallels between Jyn and other Star Wars characters – have a good look and see what similarities you can find!