Last week, the cast of the next much-anticipated installment of the Star Wars franchise was announced. With any geek franchise, especially Star Wars, casting debates are contentious and not unexpected. Fans have an idea of what a character should look like and who should play their favourites and it’s damn impossible to please every nerd in the galaxy. This time around, the debate took another (also not unexpected) turn: the number of women in the Star Wars universe.
While women in the Star Wars universe have always been outnumbered by men in sheer volume, they’ve been able to hold their own and dominate in terms of attitude, strength and general kickassery. Princess Leia commanded attention in the original trilogy, arguably stealing the show from her male counterparts on a regular basis. She’s strong, kicks ass, and holds her own as a leader of the rebellion where women are admittedly vastly underrepresented. Her mother, Padme, is also a kick ass woman in her own right (minus Natalie Portman’s terrible acting). The Expanded Universe is full of strong women- perrenial favourite Mara Jade, Asajj Ventress, Aurra Sing, An’ya Kurro (The Dark Woman), Shaak Ti, Jaina Solo, and Darth Traya have all shown the power of women throughout the Star Wars Universe. While the EU may not be a part of the on-screen story moving forward, that doesn’t discount the value of women in the universe as a whole. The books, comics, and games still exist. No one has taken them away, no one has deleted these women from history.
Now I’m sure by now you’re saying “But that isn’t the argument- they’ve rejected the EU and only cast two women in the movie!” Sure, you got me there. But riddle me this- First, since when did changing Star Wars make it any less enjoyable? If that was the fact of the matter, the fandom would have abandoned Lucas decades ago. (Seriously, man. Leave it alone already!) Second, what would you rather have- a few strong female characters capable of holding their own in a male-dominated world? Or a bunch of weak-ass female characters gratuitously added to please the feminist mafia. I’ll take the former any day.
So lets give Abrams the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the cast list isn’t full. Just maybe he hasn’t shared all of his plans with the public. (Spoilers!) And maybe, just maybe, Carrie Fisher and Daisy Ridley and just so kick ass, the men in the cast don’t stand a chance. I’ll put my money on the women. I’m not saying this isn’t an issue- it is. What I’m saying is that those on the internet ready to tar and feather J.J. may be jumping the gun a bit. They don’t seem to understand the universe or that the movies aren’t the end all and be all of the Star Wars galaxy. If he fails, we’ll pack him off to Joss Whedon’s character development re-education camp. (Now there’s a guy who understands the role of both women and men in film.)
Now get that giant walking carpet out of my way.
Picture Credit: That Girl Mag