'The Last Jedi' Director Rian Johnson Agrees That 'Star Wars' Needs More Diversity Behind The Scenes
Watching John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Kelly Marie Tran in The Last Jedi, it becomes clear that Star Wars has become more diverse in front of the camera. But the same cannot be said about who's behind it — even Last Jedi director Rian Johnson agrees that Star Wars needs more diversity in terms of directors. In fact, when recently asked about the franchise's lack of diversity behind the scenes by Yahoo Movies U.K., Johnson acknowledged that Star Wars needs to find a woman or a person of color to helm future films.
When Yahoo asked Johnson during a press conference whether it was time that Star Wars hired more diverse directors, he didn't mince words. “Hell yes it’s time!” Johnson told the publication. “There are so many incredibly talented female directors, directors of color out there and so many I would love to see play in this universe."
Of course, he's not the only one who thinks Star Wars needs to make some serious strides in the diversity department. Out of the other current major franchises, including DC Comics and Marvel, Star Wars is still the only one that has been directed solely by white men. As of now, there have been eight Star Wars films and one standalone, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, all of which have been directed by white men. After Colin Trevorrow was dropped from Star Wars Episode IX, Disney announced J.J. Abrams would direct, which many fans saw as a misstep. Instead of hiring someone new for the final installment of the current trilogy, they went back to Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens.
After the Abrams news was announced Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women And Hollywood, tweeted: "Still no female director in the Star Wars franchise as JJ Abrams to return in place of Colin Treverrow. Huge opportunity missed."
The Star Wars universe will continue to expand with a spin-off film about Han Solo called Solo: A Star Wars Story, which will be directed by Ron Howard, another white guy. There's also two other stand-alone films about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett in the works, and as Yahoo pointed out, they're also rumored to be directed by white men: Netflix's The Crown's Stephen Daldry and Simon Kinberg, who worked on the X-Men franchise. If this is true, it means it will be a while until the Star Wars series sees a diverse choice behind the camera.
Being that the series has worked hard to add more diversity to its films, it's disappointing that they haven't appeared to make the same commitment to hiring more diverse directors for these movies. Especially, when Marvel and DC Comics have already added non-white male directors to their rosters. Earlier this year, DC Comics had a win with Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins and have already confirmed she'd be back for the sequel. It was reported that Jenkins made a historic deal that will make her to be the highest-paid female director of all time.
Creed 2's Ryan Coogler directed Marvel's Black Panther, out in February, making him the first African-American director in Marvel's universe. Anna Boden will be the first woman to direct a Marvel movie. She's co-directing 2019's Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, with her partner Ryan Fleck. Fleck made the 2006 Ryan Gosling film Half Nelson.
These franchises are making strides in inclusion, slowly but surely, but Star Wars seems to be even slower to make this small but important change. A change that not just Johnson, but other people who are involved with the film series agree has to happen.
Last year, according to The Verge, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said during a Q&A that she had "every intention of hiring female directors" for Star Wars films. This came after some felt Kennedy's previous comments in an interview with Variety implied that female directors didn't have enough experience to helm Star Wars movies. She reportedly said she was looking for female directors, but the process was slow because "they’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience." Kennedy said her comments were taken out of context.
What should give fans hope is that Johnson is taking a larger role in the upcoming Star Wars movies. Disney announced last month that Johnson was going to create an all-new Star Wars trilogy. Since he seems extremely passionate about the idea of hiring a woman or a person of color to direct an upcoming Star Wars film, he could actually use his power to do so. Would that make fans even more excited for more Star Wars films? Hell, yes. It would finally make this galaxy far, far away feel a little more down-to-earth.