May 12, 2014 — Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was my first movie. My father took me. Apparently when it started, my eyes were as big as Princess Leia’s buns and I asked, “Is this TV?” and, “Can you turn it down?”
I’ve loved the Star Wars franchise ever since. After recently watching the beloved middle trilogy with my daughter, I became more and more excited about rumors of the final trilogy coming out. And then the cast announcement happened recently, and I was stunned. Really? Only one new female cast member will be joining Princess Leia—and it’s probably her daughter? And if it is her daughter, any chance she’ll get the opportunity to be as powerful and in-charge as her mother was? I highly doubt this movie will pass the Bechdel test.
Director J.J. Abrams has shown himself to be a visionary in the past and capable of making interesting, deep women come alive on screen. Think Kate from Lost, Olivia from Fringe, Sydney Bristow from Alias. He even created Felicity! (Yes, her initial motivation was a guy, but she herself was so much more.) However, somewhere around the Gratuitous Underwear Scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness, my sense of being considered a potential audience member for his body of work started to evaporate.
Where is Abrams’ vision now? Can’t the folks behind this new Star Wars see that even a galaxy far, far away might have a lot of women in it? Why are the only stories that seem worth telling men's? Supposedly they’re now casting one more major female role, but even if that pans out, it will just feel like they’re trying to shoehorn someone in to appease critics. The time to think about this was from day one, and to do it authentically, in the same way that men and women seem to manage every day in real life, working and living and resisting the dark side together.
I’m sure that when Star Wars VII comes out in theaters, I'll still see it with my daughter. But it's a shame that now, a year and a half before its release, instead of feeling excited, I'm mostly just disappointed—and, frankly, a little bored.