Ridley Roundup: August 2014

So what’s new for Episode VII’s leading lady since our last Ridley Roundup?

Despite the fact Episode VII production took its two-week hiatus, more indications arose this month that Daisy Ridley is portraying the central hero for the Sequel Trilogy. On July 24, Mark Hamill praised the actress while doing an interview with the BBC on the Guardians of the Galaxy red carpet. Less than a week later, Ridley was the only actor to join Hamill on location at Skellig Michael. The scenes shot on the Irish island were important enough for Kathleen Kennedy to attend (via The Movie Bit). Last week, Deadline broke the news Ridley is now represented by UTA. This article also states that Ridley will be returning for Episodes VIII and IX. UTA also represents Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Ewan McGregor, and Gwyneth Paltrow, among other superstars.

Edgar Wright dinnerAs far back as January 2013, rumors hinted that the new trilogy would have a female lead. These rumors have persisted, although with slightly less steam following the scrapping of the original Arndt script. Subsequent events like the casting reveal and Disney Store toy rollout helped temper hope for a female lead. What does seem to be apparent is that Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are the leads.

Undoubtedly, fan expectations put conflicting demands on the new trilogy. They want more of the same, yet something Earth-shaking in nature in the vein of Star Wars in 1977 or The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Given the success of films like Frozen, Maleficent, Gravity, and Catching Fire, Episode VII subverting its own trope of the male-dominated monomyth by utilizing a female lead would challenge the status quo for superhero movies. Many of the major stakeholders, including George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy, have daughters. Disney has plenty invested in providing entertainment for female customers, and at 2013’s Licensing Expo, Disney defined Marvel as its boys’ mega-franchise and left the door open for expansion of Star Wars beyond the label of a boys’ franchise.

Of all the storytelling produced for Star Wars since Revenge of the Sith, only The Clone Wars remains intact as part of the continuity that will move forward. It’s the storyline Lucas oversaw, and the only cohesive Star Wars body of work that actively promoted the legacy of female characters in Star Wars, introducing Jedi hero Ahsoka Tano and the villainous Mother Talzin and enhancing the character arc of Expanded Universe character Asajj Ventress. This all suggests that the portion of Star Wars that mattered to Lucas had worked to raise the bar for female characters.

SotJ Banner

By the time the first female-centric book series, Sword of the Jedi, was announced at Celebration VI in 2012, the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney was already under way, as was the work for Episode VII. I have wondered on occasion about the backward-facing image of a lone Jedi, minus an actual author name. Were there Disney people sitting in the room gauging the reaction to a series that put a female Jedi front and center?

Then there is the curious matter of Kevin Feige’s dance around the issue of a superheroine-centric movie. Sure, some signs suggest that Marvel doesn’t appreciate its female fanbase like it should, such as the dearth of Gamora merchandise. As they did during the #WeWantLeia toys campaign, licensees have pointed the finger at the licensor Marvel for consciously choosing to omit lead female character team members from their merchandise. Merchandising bean-counters are incentivized to divide the genders because they essentially would have to reconfigure their business model. Meanwhile, the female film-goers have provided sufficient incentive to knock the movie business notions on their ears. Money talks. On the comics and apparel side, Marvel is embracing a diverse customer base with initiatives like the upcoming female Thor and @styledbyMarvel.

Sure, as Feige likes to point out, Marvel has a plan, with all signs being that it is to crush DC. So why did Sony beat them both to the punch? Could it be that Feige’s overlord Disney wanted to save the first superheroine mega-franchise movie title for Marvel’s sibling Star Wars?

The sad part of having that hope, though, comes from considering the reasons why Lucasfilm isn’t ready to wave that flag yet. For one, despite the fact that the lead is not a white male, many entrenched white male fans still remain willfully blind to the fact that the central figure of the Sequel Trilogy will not look like them. Not only are they entrenched, but their bigotry is on full display on message boards and social media. Two, much talk since the movies were announced has mentioned how the movies will be carrying on the story of the Skywalker legacy, and in the minds of many that isn’t possible with a female character. If Daisy Ridley is the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia, she will not only be a descendant of the Skywalker family, but also of two other key Star Wars families, Solo and Amidala. It’s brilliant and flies in the face of sexist patrilineal notions that have subjugated women for centuries. Let’s not forget Kathleen Kennedy did not take her husband’s name and her last name is first on the joint venture production company with Frank Marshall. So the top of the Star Wars storytelling chain has no blind spot to women creating their own legacies.

Given all that, the internet buzzed last week around stormtrooper buckets, Han Solo’s costume, and Luke Skywalker’s beard. Perhaps, too, that has been the point. Are fans so attuned to notion that the Star Wars movies won’t pay off the arcs of their female leads that the spoiler hounds don’t even look in that direction?

Legacy 4Meanwhile, next week the Legacy Volume 2 comic series ends its run with Issue #18. It’s a story about a young female Solo descendent who finds a lightsaber, and goes on an adventure with a Mon Cal sidekick and a black male Knight from an Imperial order of Force users. If you think about it, the plot has similarities to the Episode VII rumors from the last few weeks. I see more similarities than that, but if I laid them all out, it would spoil the joy of everyone else discovering them.

In other Daisy Ridley news, she met Edgar Wright in Los Angeles, spent some time enjoying the Original Trilogy with her family, and read The Goldfinch, the critically acclaimed novel being adapted to the big screen by the production team of Nina Jacobsen (The Hunger Games). Perhaps that is one of the projects UTA is representing her for?

For the Tumblr-minded fandom, Daisy Ridley Daily is a new resource to follow.

For updates on all things FANgirl follow @FANgirlcantina on Twitter or like FANgirl Zone on Facebook. At times she tries the Tumblr.

Diversity Wins At The 2014 Hugo Awards

This weekend, science fiction’s prestigious Hugo Awards were presented at Loncon 3. From Charlie Jane Anders’ recap at io9:

This was really a year that underscored that a younger generation of diverse writers are becoming central to the genre and helping to redefine and expand it. In particular, Leckie beating The Wheel of Time, Chu’s inspirational speech and Hurley’s double victory felt like a sea change.

Ancillary Justice by 48-year-old American Ann Leckie won Best Novel. This debut novel also has won the Nebula Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award. It is a space opera with a female protagonist that relies on in media res to unfold the narrative. This storytelling technique of learning as the reader goes along is utilized in the Star Wars movies, but became underutilized in Star Wars prose when the novels began to rely heavily on existing knowledge of the galaxy far far away and its lore.

Other notable wins were Sofia Samatar for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer; Sarah Webb for Best Fan Artist; “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com) for Best Short Story; “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor.com) for Best Novellete; the movie Gravity for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form; Ginjer Buchanan for Best Editor, Long Form; and Ellen Datlow for Best Editor, Short Form.

Winner of the Best Semiprozine, Lightspeed Magazine, ran the highly successful Kickstarter for Issue #49: Women Destroy Science Fiction, which was featured here at FANgirl.

. . . → Read More: Diversity Wins At The 2014 Hugo Awards

Fangirls Around the Web: August 17, 2014

Elsa Anna Cosplay

Catch up time on Fangirls Around the Web. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting weekly to get back up to speed after a busy month. Not that anyone is complaining that there are so many awesome examples of fangirls and their real and fictional heroines spotted around the web. Where to start?

FANgirl contributor Priya Chhaya sent along the link to a Washington Post op-ed by former deputy White House chief of staff for operations Alyssa Mastromonaco, “Being informed and fashionable is natural for women.” The Her Universe Fashion Show at San Diego proved this point. Have you checked out the profiles on the designers over at Her Universe? Or how about these real life sisters Christie and Robyn cosplaying/Disney-bounding Frozen‘s Elsa and Anna that were spotted at Neatorama?

At Coffee With Kenobi Melinda Wolf interviewed Star Wars Insider editor Jonathan Wilkins. They discuss the Lego Yoda Chronicles, Episode VII, Celebration, and more.

From this conversation started by Gail Z. Martin on Facebook, I saw a link to this great blog post pointing out many of the problems with the allegation that character is “Mary Sue” and with online “litmus tests” for such traits in particular.

Rob Bricken at io9 writes about the movie deal for Kelly Thompson’s novel The Girl Who Would Be King.

Three cheers for Frozen:

'Frozen' finally ended its domestic run yesterday with $400,738,009 (#19 all-time): http://t.co/x9nu79XXCs pic.twitter.com/Y2rWxRkctZ

— Box Office Mojo (@boxofficemojo) July 18, 2014

At TheMarySue, Zoe Chevat wrote a fantastic two-part series, . . . → Read More: Fangirls Around the Web: August 17, 2014

FANgirl Around the Web: Summer 2014

Wynde Final Cover

This week Fictional State of Mind is giving away a copy of WYNDE and A NEW DAWN . . . → Read More: FANgirl Around the Web: Summer 2014

Carrie Fisher Talks To THR About Robin Williams


Carrie Fisher shares memories of Robin Williams. . . . → Read More: Carrie Fisher Talks To THR About Robin Williams

Fangirl Chat 17: An Oral History of Fandom with Maggie Nowakowska


Fangirl Chat takes a trip down memory lane to find out what it was like to be a Star Wars fangirl in 1977. . . . → Read More: Fangirl Chat 17: An Oral History of Fandom with Maggie Nowakowska

Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo Join RebelForce Radio

RebelForce Radio Filoni

Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo join Jason and Jimmy Mac on a special episode of RebelForce Radio. . . . → Read More: Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo Join RebelForce Radio

Assembly of Geeks Gab Guardians!


Assembly of Geeks discusses Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars rumors, and shares an interview with cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty . . . → Read More: Assembly of Geeks Gab Guardians!

A Galaxy of Possibilities


Academic Natacha Guyot explores character creation, diversity and Star Wars fandom in an ongoing series on her blog. . . . → Read More: A Galaxy of Possibilities

Kay Reviews Guardians of the Galaxy

Kay reviews Guardians of the Galaxy. . . . → Read More: Kay Reviews Guardians of the Galaxy