Star Wars Into Diversity

(This article contains minor spoilers of a movie trailer.)

I was waiting for this trailer all week...some would say since the credits rolled on Revenge of the Sith way back when.

I'm one of the few people who admits to liking the prequels. They're cerainly flawed films, but the chances George Lucas took impress me, even if they don't all pay off. While story choices and the politics of the universe can be debated, there are fantastic moments, even in Phantom Menace. The lightsaber fights are breathtaking, and no one does a chase like Lucas. From the podrace to speederbikes on Endor to the pursuit over the only good parts of Red Tails, that WWII film about the Tuskegee Airmen (Lucas hired someone else to direct but he designed and crafted all the dogfight battles, and they're incredible).

Also in defense of the prequels: Darth Maul is one of the great movie villians, and Queen Amidala is one of the most impressive characters in the entire saga.

So let's get back to the new stuff.

Right out of the gate we have to acknowlege something: The first official live action Star Wars film footage presented to the public in over 10 years starts with a Person of Color.

John Boyega pops up into frame sweaty and terrified. And just like that, we have a very different Star Wars.

If you remember, all the original Clone troopers derive from Jango Fett. Jango (father of Boba) was played by Temuera Morrison, an actor born in New Zealand and part Māori. By the time we get to the Stormtroopers of the classic trilogy, we're a generation or two later (depending on how those clones were made). Nothing in the films speaks to how genetically identical they still are (although Luke want's to follow his friend Biggs to the Imperial Academy). In the expanded universe (now no longer canon), the clones were supplemented with human volunteers and conscripts from all over.

However, now it's something like 30 years after the events seen in Return of the Jedi. And here's John Boyega. Interesting!

Let me tell you what I'm dreading.....not from the films, but from the real world: There will almost certainly be push back to this casting from narrow minded "fans" all over. It always shocks me that people who claim to be part of a fandom--even going so far as to be collectors or cosplayers--miss the moral of the piece they think they're celebrating. The Rebel Alliance united every conceivable type of sentient life-form in the galaxy, working together against totalitarian oppression. And I guarantee that someone who has gone on and on about how much they love Star Wars will now complain that it's "ruined." I put that in quotes because that's the same thing you'll hear from bigots all over: the thing they love is now ruined.

The trailer plays on, and very quickly we get to a shot of Daisy Ridley, destined to be one of the most famous women in the world, 13 months from now. Here, she looks like a badass urchin a la Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and I love it.

She looks tough, strong. She's running from something (an enemy? a sandstorm?), but still in control and confident. And she looks good doing it. Is she the new dream-girl for nerds everywhere? Count on it.

Who she plays and what the plot of the new film might be is all speculation at this point, and we don't go in for rumors here. But she is another strong Star Wars woman. There haven't been a lot of them (Amidala, Leia, Aayla Secura, Ahsoka Tano, Zam Wessel, and Mon Mothma being the ones I think about first), but it looks like this trilogy may offer us a few more.

There are a few other characters in the trailer...and many more that are in the film but don't pop up here. The cast is actually pretty large, but this was a short teaser. (Billed as 88 seconds in a JJ Abram's tweet, it's only about 35 seconds of actual footage. The rest is titles and dramatic black screens with voice over and sound effects.) We'll see the rest of them soon, though.

I was excited at the new footage, and I'm glad to see more diversity getting into my favorite franchise.

And if you hear someone claiming to be a "fan" who doesn't like that the new Star Wars films are about a black guy and a girl, remind them that they've missed the whole point.

For now, let's all watch the trailer a few more times.


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