Finn’s name in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has become a source of joy for many fans—mainly because he’s called “Finn” because Poe Dameron doesn’t like that Stormtroopers’ names are just their numbers, but FN-2187 has meaning beyond what the Empire had labeled him.
The name, as the Star Wars Twitter account recently pointed out, goes back to the original Star Wars and George Lucas’ own inspiration for the Star Wars franchise. 2187 may be the cell that Princess Leia found herself in when she fell into Darth Vader’s captivity, but its use even in that instance is also a reference to a short film that helped to inspire George Lucas.
Finn’s stormtrooper number was FN-2187. The # is a homage to cell 2187 located in detention block AA-23 on the Death Star, the cell of Princess Leia in A New Hope. Cell 2187 from ANH is a ref. to “21-87” a National Film Board of Canada short that inspired a young George Lucas. pic.twitter.com/dBdY0kZ7nW
— Star Wars (@starwars) April 10, 2020
According to Digital Spy, the film that sparked Lucas’ interest was created from unrelated discarded footage combined with things that filmmaker Arthur Lipsett himself had filmed while visiting other cities.
“21-87 was the brainchild of animator Arthur Lipsett, who’d worked at the National Film Board and created the nine-minute and 33-second short from discarded footage found on the editing room floor. This was spliced with his own footage that he’d filmed from cities like Montreal and New York.”
While it’s fun to look back at the inspiration for the series, connecting Finn’s name back to Leia’s cell is important to me because when looking at the series as a whole, Finn’s role in the sequels is often compared to the Princess Leia role in the original trilogy. Han, Luke, and Leia each filled an important role in their trio.
Han was the pilot who was always someone who took things seriously and pretended like he let things roll off his back when he actually didn’t, Luke was their “savior” and the man who had to fight against the evils coming for them, and Leia, in a lot of ways, was the brains behind everything and the one making sure their plans followed through. While looking at the trio of the sequel trilogy, it’s a bit more muddled, but still made clear that those archetypes are present.
Rey takes Luke’s role, Poe is Han, and Finn, in a lot of ways, is like Leia, which makes him being named for the cell that Leia was in that much more heartbreaking. Finn was an incredibly interesting character, and I wish we knew more about him, especially since he was clearly Force-sensitive (much like Leia was, and much like Leia, it was barely explored). Knowing the origin of Finn’s name hurts, is beautiful, and makes me wish we could have seen him and Leia interact a bit more with their time together.
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