If The Original 'Star Wars' Movies' Characters Were Gender-Swapped, Here's What It Might Look Like
From Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma to Daisy Ridley's Rey, the upcoming installment of Star Wars, The Force Awakens, has swapped powerful men for even more powerful women. Captain Phasma was initially written as a man, and the role was gender-swapped at the last minute to create a role for Christie, according to io9. Christie herself was unaware that her part had initially been intended for a man — when asked about the rumors at a Star Wars junket Sunday, she looked surprised and simply said, "I don't know that that's true." It is. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan confirmed the rumors in Vulture, adding that the decision was a direct response to early criticisms that the cast was too male-dominated. (There are still a lot of men: In addition to reprisals from the original cast, the filmmakers have added the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson). What would it look like if George Lucas had treated the original films similarly? What would Star Wars look like if gender-swapped?
Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Padme (Natalie Portman) are the two main female roles in the original trilogy, but with a few alterations, the cast could feature a lot more empowered women. What if Luke and Leia were identical, rather than fraternal, twins? If the fastest pilot in the galaxy were a woman rather than a man? If the most evil wielder of the Force were a lady rather than a dude? Here are a couple theories:
1. Luke And Leia As Luca And Leia
Twins separated at birth, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa's reunion is one of the main plots of the original trilogy. They're the children of Queen Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, raised by foster families on separate planets and then reunited over the course of A New Hope. Luke is initially attracted to his beautiful sister (unaware, of course, that they're related), but Leia falls for the rakish Han Solo instead.
What would happen if, instead of fraternal twins, Luke and Leia were identical — if Luke were actually a woman? In addition to the possibility of less uncomfortable sexual tension between siblings (not because they're both women, but because, since they're identical, they would immediately recognize the other as her missing half), this dynamic would turn the Star Wars patriarchy into a tale of two women fighting against a dark menace to the empire, more Enchantress from the Stars than Artemis Fowl.
2. Han Solo As Hanna Solo
While we're gender-swapping the original Star Wars cast, let's just make it Carrie Fisher's party. During the Hay Festival last year, Fisher said she always envied Harrison Ford's character, according to The Guardian. "When I first read the script I thought that's the part to be, always wry and sardonic. He's always that," she said. "I feel like a lot of the time Leia's either worried or pissed or, thank God, sort of snarky." She added that slaying Jabba the Hut was the most fun she had on the Star Wars set — though she was offered a stunt double for the scene, she wanted to do it herself.
Han Solo, meanwhile, ends up encased in carbonite while Leia rescues herself. She doesn't need a chivalrous pilot to come to her aid; she might have made a better Han Solo than Ford himself. Female characters in the original Star Wars films were few and far between, but the ones that existed seized control of their own fates. If Han Solo, too, had been a woman, maybe he wouldn't have ended up frozen in stasis while the rescue operation went on around him. One thing's for sure: Hanna Solo would not put up with a gold bikini. And she and Princess Leia would make an excellent couple.
3. Anakin Skywalker As Just Ana
Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma might come close, but what the Star Wars franchise really deserves is a supervillainess on par with Darth Vader of the original trilogy. What would happen if, when Vader lifted off that menacing black helmet, it were Natalie Portman rather than Hayden Christensen underneath? Female antiheroes, characterized as parts like Amy Schumer's role in Trainwreck or Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, have been explored pretty extensively this year, but when was the last time a truly evil female character graced the screen?
It worked in Minions, in which the minions imprint on a supervillain named Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), an ambitiously evil character with designs on the royal palace in London, and the British monarchy. In the same movie, Allison Janney plays Madge Nelson, the matriarch of a criminal family (gun-toting right down to their high-chair-bound baby; all four of them rob a bank together). The argument against evil female characters is that women can't be unlikeable but sympathetic. Yet men have been doing it forever. It's important to popular both protagonists and antagonists with characters of all genders — even beyond the male-female binary that I've explored here — to demonstrate that well-rounded characters can be good, evil, man, woman, or none of the above.
The creators of The Force Awakens have clearly put in the hours working towards representation of women both good and evil on screen. It's by no means a perfect scenario, but we can still reinvent the franchise's history and envision what it might have looked like were the Empire populated by a few more women.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; Giphy (3)