Fangirls, Family, and Female Characters in Star Wars’ Future
Lex here with today’s post. Naturally, the biggest news in the Star Wars franchise in fifteen years erupted two days before the start of NaNoWriMo, when Tricia has committed all her writing time to finalizing her novel Wynde. The team of FANgirl contributors and I will do our best to keep the blog rolling while she’s away. We’ll start with some great coverage inspired by the announcement of the Sequel Trilogy.
At Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg emphasizes that the Sequel Trilogy provides the perfect opportunity to build on the legacy of Princess Leia by creating a story with even more great female characters in Star Wars. She mentions fan-favorite authors like Tim Zahn and Mike Stackpole and characters including Mara, Jaina, and Mirax, and concludes:
[T]he Star Wars women are just begging for screen adaptations (or to inspire new characters). They could provide rich roles for a rising generation of young female action stars like Chloe Grace Moretz, Olivia Thirlby, Saoirse Ronan, and Hailee Steinfeld. It would be a delight to see Disney use one of the oldest action franchise chestnuts to show the shiny toys of today’s science fiction and fantasy landscape what it looks like when you let women do as much work and have as much fun as the men.
Writing for Inside Movies at EW.com, Anthony Breznican talked to Zahn about the possibility of connections between the Thrawn Trilogy and the Sequel movies. Zahn doesn’t expect an adaptation of the novels, but wouldn’t be surprised to see some characters or elements used in the films, just like aspects of his work and the EU made it into the Prequels. And his sentiments about story themes are definitely worth repeating in full:
“I’d like to see the original characters in perhaps smaller roles, handing the mantle of adventure to the next generation. Luke would be like Obi-Wan, but not quite the same because he will have raised his children and Obi-Wan was more standing off, watching and protecting,” Zahn says.
“I’d love to see a good father-son, or mother-son, or daughter story. I’d like to see family. We haven’t seen a lot of good family stuff in Star Wars. A lot of it has been dysfunctional, and driven by somebody else. Anakin was a slave and manipulated all his life. Luke and Leia never knew each other…”
Zahn says his favorite of the Indiana Jones movies was The Last Crusade, pairing Harrison Ford with Sean Connery as the archaeologist’s father. Even parents who aren’t monsters like Darth Vader have trouble with their kids, and the new Star Wars movies could explore than with Luke, Han and Leia.
“Some family interaction would be something different for the new movies to do – against the backdrop of excitement and adventure that forms the basis of Star Wars,” Zahn says. “There are a lot of directions you can go with the Skywalker families and really kick some serious butt.”
A companion EW.com article by Solvej Schou shares the reactions of several female directors of sci-fi movies to the news of the Sequel Trilogy. The entire article is worth a read for FANgirl readers, but several comments really caught my eye. Maureen Perkins noted that “Mara, for instance, or Leia’s daughter Jaina, [are] characters who could easily become as iconic as Princess Leia was to the children of the ’80s, with the possibility of speaking to a balanced and modern sci-fi audience.” Just as exciting as the possibility of strong female characters is the involvement of female creators in making the movies:
“As a fangirl filmmaker, I’m excited that the Star Wars mythology will move forward under the guidance of Kathleen Kennedy,” said [Letia] Clouston, who directs a sci-fi web series called Broken Toy, and is developing a feature film sci-fi script called Port. “The great thing is, our current generation of filmmakers has grown up with the love of Star Wars, and now there are more female filmmakers working out there who can bring that love to the screen.
And of course, it’s not just the female fans who hope to see strong female characters in the Sequel Trilogy, as David Bushman of the Paley Center points out: “fanboys today love strong female characters and ‘would applaud the inclusion of such characters in the upcoming Star Wars films.'” I couldn’t agree more.
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