Written by Erin Lobner. Media by Courtney Murphy.
The “Star Wars” franchise has always been criticized, like many other sci-fi movies, for its lack of female characters. Over the years, the “Star Wars” movies have included great female heroes such as Padme Amidala, Leia Organa, and most recently, Rey. In addition, the upcoming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, part of the rebel alliance. These women all play fierce main characters, but there are only a handful of females and more than twice as many male leads throughout the films.
The non-episodic movie, “Rogue One,” is set to premier in December. The story takes place before “Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope,” and follows a group of rebel fighters who attempt to steal the Empire’s Death Star plans. The following December, “Star Wars: Episode VIII” will hit theaters, featuring much of the same cast as Episode VII, including Daisy Ridley as Rey.
Jones gained the instant support of some fans after they viewed the “Rogue One” teaser. Positive commentators stated that they were looking forward to another strong female lead, and they appreciated Jyn Erso’s tough nature. Unfortunately, many fans were not pleased, especially with Jones’ starring role. Some of the fans even went as far as to criticize the actresses looks while they expressed their frustration. Other complaints included that her character looked “cheesy,” and having a female lead was just an attempt to make the movie seem more modern/feminist.
However, it’s not just the fans who responded poorly to the female characters. Disney and certain game companies received a backlash when “Star Wars” toy sets left out the main character, Rey. Even a Hasbro Episode VII Monopoly game neglected to include her as one of the game pieces. But the company reportedly came out with a new game including Rey. Not all companies did such a great job changing the merchandise, though, and fans of the “Star Wars” heroines expressed their thoughts on social media with the phrase “Where’s Rey?”
Even with all the debate surrounding the newest female characters in the franchise, Rey and Jyn, along with Padme and Leia, provide clean, encouraging examples for the girls who watch “Star Wars.” A great example is a blog post by Jase Cordova, who took her young daughter to see “The Force Awakens.” Cordova wrote that her daughter
“felt a strong connection with Rey” even before she saw the movie. So, the two went to see it, her daughter dressed in a Rey costume, and loved it. Stories like this highlight the importance of female role models, especially in sci-fi and fantasy genres, which have traditionally been male-dominated.
When it comes to the “Star Wars” movies, Padme demonstrated great care for her country when she served as queen, as well as her friends and family. Leia showed that women can, and should, stand up for themselves, but they are also capable of balancing emotions with authority. In just one movie, Rey displayed qualities of loyalty, bravery, and determination. And we can only hope for such characteristics in Jyn.