Annlyel continues her series focussing on the defining moments of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe.
Finn was introduced in The Force Awakens and he became an immediate fan favorite because he was just so darn lovable. I loved Finn because I had never seen a stormtrooper as the main character and on top of that he was the first black character to have a super major role in Star Wars. Basically, Finn is pretty awesome. His story has grown beyond just being the stormtrooper who had a conscience and now he’s a bonafide Resistance hero. To say I’m excited to see where his story leads next in The Rise of Skywalker would be an understatement. But until then, here are the defining moments that have him propelled him in this journey so far.
1. Snapping Out of the Spell
FN-2187 was a loyal First Order stormtrooper. He was a promising soldier, looked upon by Captain Phasma, General Hux, and other leaders in the First Order as one of the prize additions to the First Order’s ranks. He was always in the top 1% of stormtrooper trainees, he was an amazing shot, fantastic in hand-to-hand combat, but he did have one weakness; empathy. When he was assigned to only his second deployment, however, that one glitch in his otherwise perfect system was revealed at the max. When his fellow stormtrooper was gunned down in front of him he realized, at that moment, the brutality of war. This wasn’t a game anymore. This was a real battle with individuals dying on both sides. When he looked around and saw his fellow comrades heartlessly herding the helpless Jakku innocents into a circle against their will it was like watching a horror film. What was he doing? Was he really a part of a regime this evil?
When he, along with the other stormtroopers, were given the orders to slaughter the unfortunate civilians he couldn’t perform the atrocious act. It was wrong, it was evil, and he didn’t have the stomach to do something as wicked as gunning down helpless men, women, and children. Even though he didn’t know it, this would be the beginning of his transformation from the soldier, FN-2187, to the eventual rebel hero, Finn.
2. Removing the Helmet
Finn was traumatized. He couldn’t believe the atrocities he had just witnessed or the fact that he had been a part of it. Taking off that stormtrooper helmet was the second act of his defiance and him growing into a different person. He didn’t want to be this mindless follower in a white mask of death. He was a living soul just like the ones that had been extinguished down on Jakku and he was going to make sure he wouldn’t be a part of the evil First Order anymore.
3. Rescuing Poe
Finn knew it was only a matter of time before he would be sent to reconditioning and would become a brainwashed like the rest of his fellow First Order troopers. He would rather die than become a robotic monster again and so he had to quickly come up with a plan on how he was going to get away from the First Order. As fate would have it, during the skirmish on Jakku the First Order managed to capture the Resistance’s best pilot, Commander Poe Dameron. Knowing this the stormtrooper, FN-2187 concocted a brilliant escape plan. Not only was his rescuing of Poe the ultimate renouncing of the First Order but it was the beginning of a great friendship that would end up blossoming between the two.
4. Getting A New Name
Throughout his life, the stormtrooper was referred to as FN-2187. The First Order considered him as simply a number in their ever-growing organization. Imagine how he felt when Poe treated him not as a nameless pawn but as a human being by giving him the name Finn. The joy that he must’ve felt. With the name, Finn, he truly was no longer a mindless soldier of the First Order and that is one of the most important moments in his journey.
4. Meeting Rey
Finn was devastated. He had tried escaping the First Order but ended up crashing on Jakku, he lost Poe, and he was all alone in an unforgivably hot sandbox of a planet. When he finally did manage to find a small town in the middle of the vast desert imagine his surprise when he found Poe’s droid, BB-8, there as well. Along with BB-8, however, was this, at first frightening woman. She chased him, knocked him off his feet, and accused him of theft, an accusation that he knew wasn’t true. When she found out the truth of the situation she became much more cordial. At the moment she asked him if he was with the Resistance, he hesitated. Should he tell her the truth about being a stormtrooper and risk getting knocked out again or should he lie and play along with the idea of being a hero? He chose to be a hero.
When he saw how she looked at him with admiration in her eyes he felt, well, good. For the first time in his life someone looked up to him and it was an amazing moment. He also found himself immediately liking her, for she was strong, beautiful, and the first truly kind person he had ever met. He had no idea that his meeting her would end take him on a journey, unlike any other stormtrooper, could’ve ever dreamed of.
5. Exchanging Names
Finn and Rey had just, utilizing both of their skills, escaped Jakku. It was an exciting moment for both of them but it also was the first time they introduced themselves. I love this scene because of the pride you can see on Finn’s face as he says his human name. He’s no longer a stormtrooper and this is the first time he can really bask in the fact that he has become a different person. But, as Rey stares at him with those admiring eyes he gets a pang of guilt. Here he is pretending to be a Resistance hero and yet he was nothing more than First Order scum. He managed to build up the courage to tell her the truth but that would be prolonged until later.
6. It’s Han Solo and Chewbacca!
Neither Finn nor Rey knew they had escaped Jakku aboard the iconic ship, the Millenium Falcon, but they, sure enough, found out when Han and his first mate, Chewbacca, arrived to reclaim their most prized possession. Chewbacca frightened the ex-stormtrooper and can you blame him? Just think if you saw a creature standing over seven feet tall covered in hair and holding a crossbow? I would be scared too. Meeting Han, however, was simply incredible. Finn had clearly heard tons of stories about the rebellion general and being in the same presence as the legend was amazing.
7. Telling the Truth
Finn was getting jittery. He knew the First Order was looking for him and he felt that he wasn’t distancing himself from the First Order fast enough. At Maz Kanata’s castle, he was given directions on the best way to get to the Outer Rim where he knew he would be safe but he didn’t let Rey in on his plan. When Rey confronted him he just told her the truth, no longer caring about how she felt about him.
This moment is important because it highlights how good a person he really is. He could’ve kept on lying, upholding this facade that he was this Resistance hero when in actuality he wasn’t. Telling her the truth and risking their friendship was one of the bravest things he could’ve done. Thankfully, it only made her respect for him grow even more.
When Finn renounced the First Order he really did. He destroyed First Order tie fighters, blasted stormtroopers, but it was very apparent that he had switched sides as he fought one of his old comrades without hesitation. Even though he lost the brief duel he wasn’t afraid to fight his old friend and that showed the heroic qualities of the ex-stormtrooper.
9. Rey Gets Captured
Finn’s first plan was to escape to the Outer Rim but when he saw Rey get captured that plan went straight down the drain. He deeply cared for his newfound friend and the thought that she was in the hands of those monsters called the First Order was too much to handle. This was the moment that showed the emotional character of Finn.
He doesn’t make decisions from his brain, he makes his decisions from the heart and this scene highlights that. He was willing to go straight to the enemy despite the fact that his main plan was to get as far away from the First Order as possible to rescue Rey. Ah, that’s so sweet.
10. Concocting the Plan To Infiltrate StarKiller Base
This is the point when Finn’s skills as a strategic leader shine brightly as he explains the best way to infiltrate his old base, StarKiller Base. Not only does it show how far he has come since the beginning of The Force Awakens but it also is the beginning of him truly what he had fibbed about being in the first place; a Resistance hero.
11. A Reunion with Captain Phasma
One of the greatest moments of Finn’s life was being able to show Captain Phasma how he had changed. No longer was he the soldier that she could order around. He was an independent man and he loved being able to rub that in her face, or chrome helmet.
12. That Beautiful Hug
Even though Rey had already managed to escape her cell Finn was still there to rescue her with the help of his friends, Han and Chewbacca. When she hugged him he was stunned. Through all of the spare parts of information I’ve obtained about Finn’s time in the First Order he had never been hugged by a girl before, especially a girl that he liked, and it was a special moment for him. He had been a stormtrooper and yet she didn’t care. She liked him for who he was in the inside and that’s why he treasured her as his best friend.
13. Fighting Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren had just killed Han Solo, he hurt Rey, and Finn was determined to make him pay. It’s at this moment that Finn’s immense bravery is highlighted once again. I mean he fought Kylo Ren (a powerful Force-ridden-lightsaber-wielding warrior!) without hesitation despite clearly being outmatched. That shows, once again, that he definitely makes his decisions using his heart rather than his brain. Lol.
14. Crossing Paths With Rose
When Finn woke up out of his coma it was a rude awakening. Rey was gone and the Resistance was in trouble. As he tried to jump ship and escape on one of the craft’s escape pods he was prevented from doing so by a woman he would soon get to know very well, Rose Tico. When he saw how his heroics in denouncing the First Order and fighting on Starkiller Base had inspired people he was truly surprised. He had lied in telling Han Solo that he was a “big deal” and actually ended up becoming one. He was a Resistance hero, whether he wanted to be one or not, and he found himself in the presence of someone who looked up to him. Their meeting might not have been under the greatest circumstances but fate would lead them to become the perfect duo to help in taking the First Order down.
15. Seeing the World Through Rose’s Eyes
Finn still didn’t exactly understand where his allegiances lied at the beginning of The Last Jedi but thanks to Rose he was able to see more clearly what was right and what was wrong. In the beautiful city of Canto Bight, he thought he had found paradise. The casino was glorious, the people were magnificently dressed and just plain stunning, but underneath the dazzling facade was wickedness that Rose helped him find.
As she told him the story of her childhood and how it related to the slave children in Canto Bight he began to realize what it meant to fight for the Resistance. He could remain a coward and go hide in the Outer Rim, allowing the galaxy to suffer under the tyrannic rule of the First Order, or he could fight for the freedom of those who couldn’t fight for themselves. This scene is a part of the puzzle that eventually led to Finn becoming the hero that he is by the end of The Last Jedi.
16. Finn vs. Phasma
In The Force Awakens Finn forced Phasma to deactivate the shield around Starkiller Base, humiliating his former boss. When they came face to face again the hate Phasma had for Finn was potent. They had an epic duel aboard the halved Supremacy and, surprisingly, Finn won. As Phasma scornfully named him, “Rebel scum” he couldn’t help but smile in response. He was truly no longer the nervous stormtrooper that he used to be. He had matured immensely since his duel with Kylo Ren and Phasma didn’t scare him in the slightest anymore. Being titled “Rebel scum” was the best insult she could’ve ever called him.
17. Willing To Sacrifice Himself for the Resistance
Finn changed a lot in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. At the beginning of The Force Awakens he was so frantic he looked like he needed a paper bag on hand just in case he might start hyperventilating. By the Battle of Crait in The Last Jedi he is a completely different person. He’s much more confident, heroic, and he’s no longer interested in trying to hyperspace to the Outer Rim asap.
The first time I watched The Last Jedi I was truly surprised when he was preparing to sacrifice himself but it was also a beautiful moment. For Finn, he was tired of seeing the First Order hurt his friends. The First Order was getting ready to defeat the Resistance once and for all and he was going to make sure that didn’t happen. It’s yet another example of him using his heart rather than his brain when making a decision. He wasn’t thinking smartly as he tried to sacrifice himself and thankfully Rose was there to literally knock some sense into him. But his intentions were inspiring and yet another testament to the goodness of his character.
Overall, Finn’s story has been expectedly fascinating so far. He was once an agent of evil but through a change of heart, he partook on a journey that not only helped in transforming who he is as a character but helped in changing the galaxy. I don’t know how his story arc will end in The Rise of Skywalker but I’m hoping it will be worthy of the journey he has been given so far.
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!