Audiences are officially just 15 days away from the premiere of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and the excitement, especially from female fans, can be felt throughout the universe. In a recent interview with Good Morning America, director J.J. Abrams solidified just how important he thinks Star Wars ’ female audience is, when he said, “Star Wars was always a boys’ thing and a movie that dads take their sons to, and though that’s still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.” We all know that the first six Star Wars movies didn’t exactly have a plethora of female characters, but Abrams’ comments make me believe that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be feminist, perhaps the most female-friendly entry in the saga thus far.
But just how is Episode VII going to accomplish this? Namely, by adding female characters who aren't just princesses in need of saving. Just take the film’s lead character, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. Abandoned on a desert planet named Jakku when she was five years old, Rey scavenges familiar shipwrecks to survive. She supposedly comes into contact with Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber, and might be the child of Han and Leia. With the torch passing from one hero to another, there was no reason that the next saber-wielder couldn’t be a woman, and it’s no small deal that the protagonist of a sci-fi action-adventure film is female.
But the ladies of Star Wars can’t all be good girls, now can they? Enter chrome-plated Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie, the actress behind the amazing Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones. Captain Phasma is Star Wars ' first female villain, and it looks like she’s going to be a total badass at that. Abrams reportedly created the character, who heads the Stormtroopers, with Christie in mind. "She’s not in many scenes, but her presence is powerfully felt when she’s there,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Up next is an alien pirate named Maz Katana, played by a motion captured Lupita Nyong'o. Maz is a pirate and smuggler, lives in a castle, and is a thousand years old. She also wears special goggles, as her eyes apparently contain some kind of major, unseen power.
But the new female Star Wars characters aren’t only human or alien — there’s also a possibility that feminism is hitting the droid world, as well. Rumors that adorable robot BB-8 is female are swirling, with many thinking that the little droid — already a breakout star — is going to be the first important female robot in the Star Wars movies.
I'm not 100% sure if BB-8 will end up being female, but if it’s not, there are still other female droids hitting The Force Awakens. PZ-4CO, also known as “Peazy,” is a protocol droid that belongs to Leia. She’ was introduced in “Moving Target,” a new novel that is a part of the “Journey to The Force Awakens” initiative, and she already has her own action figure. Speaking of Leia, she’s no longer the gold-bikini clad princess audiences last saw her as in Return of the Jedi. Apparently Leia is now a General, and she's to be addressed as such, marking a very cool change for the character.
Now, don’t get me wrong — when Leia was a princess, she was a hero, a politician, a rebel, a fighter, and an all-around amazing woman. Leia becoming a General in the rebellion simply adds another layer to an already complex character. Besides, since there were so few female characters in the Star Wars universe to begin with, developing the story of one of them was an absolute necessity, and a welcome change.
While having all these female characters in The Force Awakens is undoubtedly great, it's crucial that Star Wars is just as feminist in its other upcoming films, too. And the equality can't just happen onscreen — it needs to be seen behind-the-scenes as well, with, dare I say it, a woman directing a Star Wars film. As Yoda said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Images: Disney (2); Giphy