I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on Star Wars. I like The Empire Strikes Back, and of course I think Han Solo is cool. But I’ve never been hugely interested in the Star Wars franchise. However you would have to be stuck in a cave not to hear all the latest rumblings about the new Star Wars trilogy.
I have to say that I was happily surprised when I heard the new cast announcement. I always like seeing Brits do well in Hollywood so was pleased to hear that Donhall Gleeson (About Time) and John Boyega (Attack The Block) had been cast alongside Indie stars Adam Driver (Girls, Frances Ha) and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) . Then I heard there were one controversial member of the cast-Daisy Ridley. She’s not controversial in herself but her casting has lead some critics to cry out-why is there only one new female cast member added to the franchise?
As I mentioned I’m not any kind of expert on Star Wars so I can’t say whether their representation of women is great or not, but I remember liking the character of Leila (although I’ve never watched Return of The Jedi where she’s reportedly reduced to a bikini wearing slave). Does it matter if there is only one woman cast in the film as long as the characters is a good addition? After all people remember and love Leila. Then I saw an article which asked people to state Leila’s full name. I racked my brain for the answer. After all everyone knows Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kanobi, Darth Vader etc, but I could not think of what Leila’s was (and I’m guessing “Princess Leila” doesn’t count).
Apparently it’s Organa. Catchy.
Does it really matter if no one can remember her last name? Maybe not, but it’s interesting that everyone always calls her Princess Leila as though that is the only title of interest. Is that because we are obsessed with Princesses?
I think Leila is a strong enough character even without a memorable surname but it does leave you thinking about women in the Star Wars world. The only really notable woman in the last trilogy was Natalie Portman’s Padme Amidala. Now I think Portman is great but Padme was so dull. It didn’t help that she seemed to have no chemistry with Anakin Skywalker.
So the world will be looking at Daisy Ridley to see where her character will stand in this debate. There are also rumours that another substantial female role is yet to be announced so maybe the critics are being a bit hasty with their criticism?
So what do you think? Is the lack of females in Star Wars a big deal? Is JJ Abrams the right man to bring us another Leila rather than a Padma? Is it significant that no one can remember Leila’s last name? Or are you just fed up of people talking about women in Star Wars? Leave your comments below.