2015 has already been a great one for equality amongst Star Wars fans. We’ve been teased with two trailers from Episode VII: The Force Awakens (TFA), along with gameplay footage from Battlefront III, the newest instalment in the first-person- shooter series popularised in the early 2000s.
So what do these two things have in common, and how do they promote equality in the Star Wars fandom?
Firstly, the main character in the TFA trailers is Black. We know that black characters in Star Wars aren’t new—Lando was a cool guy, as was Mace Windu, and it was James Earl Jones’ voice that really made Darth Vader’s character. However, these black characters that we look to for representation were all flawed in some way, too. Lando was a sell-out who betrayed his oldest friend. Mace Windu had a dark side and was more of a grey Jedi than anything else. And Darth Vader—well, he was responsible for so much death and destruction that after a while, even that voice couldn’t redeem his motives.
What we have seen so far of John Boyega’s Finn has been quite promising. Yes, he’s undoubtedly going to be flawed, but he seems to be playing more of the Luke Skywalker type of character in the sequel trilogy.
There are also a range of strong female characters that suggest more diversity: Daisy Ridley’s Rey seems to be even more powerful than Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia of the original trilogy, and Gwendoline Christie, famed as Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Game of Thrones, will be playing the “Chrometrooper,” Captain Phasma.
And what’s more, recently news emerged that after Star Wars Celebration VII, for the first time we will see that the characters in Star Wars: Battlefront can be female too, unlike the male first-person character who previously seemed to be the only option in the series. By allowing for racial and gender diversity, The Star Wars franchise will embrace a fundamental shift from traditional representation and allow the audience to reimagine its characters in new and diverse ways.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was possibly more equality in that galaxy than in our own today. We are behind the times, but Lucasfilm seems to be bringing us up to speed.