So, Star Wars happened.
STAR WARS HAPPENED.
Yes, I’m a very, very happy geek. And I’m going to try to be a kind-hearted geek and put all the spoilers behind the cut you’re just about to hit…
There. Spoilers hopefully hidden from those who haven’t managed to see The Force Awakens yet.
So many people have already dissected it to death, so I’ll save you all from that. What I’ll say is that it wasn’t a perfect film, but it was a good Star Wars film and I loved it. All my hopes were justified. My rewatch of the original trilogy was also justified, because there were some beautiful call-outs to it that made my heart sing.
And yup, I joined half the internet in immediately shipping Finn/Poe. Like that was going to be a surprise to anyone who knows me at all.
What I wanted to talk about is this: there were so many women in this movie.
Particularly compared to the original trilogy, but just in general. Women everywhere. It was interesting, because my movie buddy’s first comment was on how few women she noticed–and yes, there were only three main women characters and one of those was a CGI alien voiced by Lupita Nyong’o–while my reaction throughout the movie was to inwardly squee at all the women I could hear.
And that’s where I think the big difference was. Only three of the major speaking roles were women: Rey, Leia, Maz Kanata. There were more major speaking roles for the men: Han, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, Snoke, General Hux.
But here’s the thing. The two main characters? The ones who got hero’s journeys? Rey and Finn. And arguably, Rey was even more key than Finn. We got an ass-kicking woman with skills and a hero’s journey who will be training to be a Jedi, and she’s arguably the star of the show. She’s going to be the character that every little girl (and the not so little ones) will be dressing up as for years. Not Finn or Poe or Kylo Ren. Rey.
Here’s the other thing: the sheer number of minor roles for women. There were women staffing the Starkiller weapons and on the bridge of the First Order ships. How many women were shown in the original trilogy as Imperial officers? None.
And there were women piloting X-Wings. How many in the original trilogy? Again, none.
There were women’s voices coming out of Storm Trooper helmets (not just Captain Phasma). Women doing a ton of different things, showing that women in this universe have jobs and roles beyond being the Princess and maybe sitting in the senate. For me, it was thrilling to hear so many women’s voices just being a part of that universe, because sci-fi is still often populated mainly by men, except for the one or two women in speaking roles who usually end up demoted to love interest by the end.
It’s not perfect gender parity, definitely, but compared to a lot of what I’ve been given over the years? Compared to all the previous Star Wars films, not just the original trilogy? It was a huge step forward and that’s a big part of why this movie delighted me so much.
(I’m now in my ‘must have more’ phase, so I’m checking out Clone Wars on Netflix, before everyone yells at me about all the women in the expanded universe. The good roles for women always get shunted into the extra bits of canon that only a small percentage of fans consume, which is another reason why it was amazing to see so many up there on the big screen, in the main canon that everyone will know.)