One of my issues is commenting that a strong female character must be strong physically. That has nothing to do with. Ripley in the Alien films is not a strong female character because she psychically beats the aliens, but because she does what has to be done to survive. Leia is similarly strong even though she is not tasked with the same level of physical demands as Ripley. She stands up to Vader and Tarkin. When Luke comes into her cell, she is not excited to see Luke, but excited to hear about Ben Kenobi. Then when Luke and Han don’t seem to have a plan, she makes one. She is passive during the Death Star battle because she is not a fighter pilot. But in the rest of the Trilogy, and the ST, she is obviously in charge and confident. She is not a damsel in distress even when she is a prisoner. Rey is the same way. After the force has awakened in her, she sees what Kylo does and while she can’t escape him she does escape a Stormtrooper (thanks Daniel Craig) which isn’t hard, but it takes her a couple of tries to get it. But Rey is not overly strong, she is competent and skilled and ready to be a Jedi. She does not outshine any of the other characters but comes to the story their equal. When you look at many of the male written strong female characters, they tend to be physically strong and more badass. That type of character gets old. How many people like that do you meet in real life? It is so easy to do wrong. Ripley is done right.
But to further compare Rey to other characters, let’s compare her to Wonder Woman. Rey obviously lack the extreme super powers, but has the force. Wonder Woman really has no physical adversaries in the 2017 film until she encounters Aries and she herself is the instrument of his death. She literally is outshines everyone and as the title character we expect that. Rey is the young Jedi of the ST. As such she can be expected to save the day in IX. She will initiate the solution the finalizes the Star Wars saga. So at her introduction is it any surprise that she is very powerful to start with and only grows more powerful, growing to the point where she is the equal of her adversary, Kylo. Rey actually has more setbacks than Wonder Woman and is far less powerful and less able to provide the solutions to all the problems. Plus she had the baggage of the abandonment and need for a parental figure.
I think one of the biggest mistakes is to not recognize that Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo are the main characters of the ST. Rey takes Luke’s role from the OT. Rey is supposed to grow into the Jedi Knight who wins the day. They are taking her through all the stages of the heroes’ journey over the 3 film trilogy rather than over a single film. Kylo is her unwitting teacher and Luke, the one she wants to teach her, refuses to do much beyond the basics and some politics.
So Rey is not an overly physical strong character but is capable and is the main character and therefor supposed to outshine the others. She has setback after setback in what she wants to do as the story (which you can read as the force) pushes her to her destiny. She is exactly the type of strong character we need and definitely not a Mary Sue.
The problem is, that her setbacks don’t really have any consequences for her. She fails to convert Kylo and beat Snoke in a direct confrontation, which might be considered a failure, if not for the fact that she only just learned about the Force a few days ago. Would you consider a novice who steps into the ring or the first time, facing a boxing champion, and gets out of the ring without a scratch a failure? The fact is, she does play an important part in getting Ben Solo to turn on his master, even if it doesn’t end up the way she expected, she easily resists Kylo’s temptation, she fights Kylo to a stand still for the lightsaber after beating Snoke’s elite guards in a team effort, she escapes from the lion’s den without a scratch, and ends up saving the remains of the Resistance from certain doom only to join them in a weird sort of celebration aboard the Millenium Falcon. So, there’s failure from a certain point of view, but from many others she is unrealistically successful (or lucky) given her lack of experience, and naive nature, and she achieves many of these successes with powers that she just almost instantly recieved from on high, and thus hasn’t really earned.
And in the first film, Luke gets in an X-wing and blows up the Death Star. Isn’t that unrealistically successful? He’d never sat in an X-wing before. Before that he used a hook to swing across a casm, stood shooting Stormtroopers and didn’t get hit by a single one while hitting several of them and the controls to close the door on Vader and reinforcing Stromtroopers. Let’s be fair. Star Wars is built with the main characters being exceptional heroes not novices in need of training. When we meet Rey in TFA, it is established that she can fight (with a staff and we don’t know what else). By way of example we have Finn use the lightsaber (The first non-jedi we have ever seen use one in combat) and while he does great against stormtroopers, he doesn’t fair as well against Kylo. Rey doesn’t either until she Kylo basically tells her she needs to use the force and she does and then her skills are a match for his in his weakened state. In TLJ we have a bunch of guards in red who look badass, who attack both Kylo and Ren after Snoke is killed. She fights them off (they are more skilled than the thugs on Jakku, but now so is she thanks to the Force). So this whole argument that Rey is treated different and is in some way an oddball in a Mary Sue way is nonsense. Other than she is lacking the doubt the plagued Luke in the first two OT film, they are cut from the same cloth and both far more successful than any non-hero has a right to be.
One big difference between the two of them can be found in comparing them to other types of heroes. Luke is more like Perseus. Great power but he doesn’t know it at first. Rey is more like Spiderman. Suddenly having the force awaken in her and have all these powers at hand and not knowing what to do with them. I can’t think of a Greek hero like that, but she is very similar to Arthur (pulls the sword from the stone and is suddenly king with all the powers that come with the title). Neither Luke nor Rey have any problem tapping into the force to do things. Luke blocks blaster bolts after a few minutes and is able to use the force to aim better than the targeting computer with no instruction other than “use the force”. He picks up his saber with no instruction and only fails with his X-wing because he perceives it is too big before Yoda shows him it isn’t. With Rey, Kylo does everything first and she picks it up from him. The scene of Rey with the Stromtrooper runs about the same length as Luke trying to pick up his saber in the Wampa cave. The difference is that Kylo tried to do that to Rey and Luke has never seen that before. Luke is not the hero of the ST, Rey is. So Rey following in the typical heroes’ journey of mythology is in keeping with what Lucas started. Correction, in keeping with what you find in myths.
Why you are insisting that learning the force must be difficult is beyond me. That isn’t what we see with Luke. Why should we with Rey? For both characters, there are plenty of obstacles and successes and focusing on Luke’s obstacles while focusing on Rey’s successes is most definitely apples and oranges. Compare their successes (their goals and what they actually achieve) and their failures and both follow the same pattern - some wins, some losses, but generally more wins.