With gender equality still a big issue in Hollywood lately, it’s more than right that “Star Wars: Episode VII” is now getting more scrutiny in how many female characters it’s going to have. While it may be going by tradition of having the male being the standard hero in the movies, the expanded universe of “Star Wars” has gone considerably beyond in providing some amazing female characters. And those female characters run the gamut from the worse villainesses to those representing the Jedi in memorable ways.
Many of these characters, however, are utilized only in the comics and video games of “Star Wars”, meaning many of them may not even exist in the sequels due to the expanded universe being erased. Also, some of them existed in a prior timeline and could be dead by the time the sequels take place. Then again, with some whereabouts unknown, having some of them turn up in the sequels would be a huge surprise to fans of those characters.
What Female Characters Could Potentially Be Brought to the Sequels?
Based on all the speculation of Daisy Ridley being hired for “Episode VII”, speculation still rules rampant for what character she’s going to play. Consensus seems to say she’s going to be a newly created character to avoid any previous characters from the expanded universe. Regardless, you have to wonder if they’ll at least borrow from the female character bank in the expanded universe based on how strong they are.
Consider characters such as Mara Jade who went on to become the wife of Luke Skywalker. While Ridley above would be too young to play Jade, she’s one of the strongest female characters on the Jedi side with also a fiercely independent streak. Having a smuggler past and a more comprehensive training from both the dark side and the Jedi side, she’d still be alive in the sequels and married to Luke. In the expanded universe, she’s 75 years old before she dies at the hand of her nephew.
Then there’s another strong character on the side of the Jedi: Shaak Ti. “Star Wars” purists cite her as one of the strongest female characters of all, despite being an alien and not human. She somewhat resembles Maleficent in the size of the horns on her head. Regardless, her battle skills are second to none. Plus, we saw her briefly in “Attack of the Clones”, despite not showing any of her abilities. While she dies later, we know she exists in the real “Star Wars” universe, and her fate could be slightly shifted for the sequels.
Also, let’s not forget the character that could be the closest to what Ridley above might play: Jaina Solo. While there’s likely going to be some considerable rewriting of her timeline and perhaps even by name, the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia seems plausible to exist in the sequels. She’s also very skilled in multiple disciplines and very much alive in the future of the expanded universe.
As just a few of the female characters that could be done, just how much of a role will Princess Leia have in the sequels to give a nod that older women should be extremely active without having to be in the background as a docile mother.
Carrie Fisher’s Preparation for Resuming Princess Leia
After reports of Carrie Fisher shedding multiple pounds to play Princess Leia again, it seems to assume she’s going to be doing more than just making regal entrances and exits for the requisite cameo. There seems to be indication she’s getting in shape to do real stunts on the level she did in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. After all, Carrie Fisher made Princess Leia one of the greatest heroines in the history of sci-fi films and exhibited much more charm and wry wit than her fictional mother ultimately had.
In that regard, “Episode VII” will finally prove to Hollywood that an older actress can still be used in an action movie without ending up as an insurance risk. Because Fisher is younger than any of the other original cast members, there isn’t any way she’d be considered a senior citizen in the film. Only her presumed husband, Han Solo, would technically be eligible for any retirement benefits the Jedi force gives out.
This contrast of both old and young women might be the precedent Hollywood needs to show the potentials of what film could be doing. Due to all the secrecy, there could be much more in the way of women taking a leading role in the sequels than we know right now. It’s hard to imagine J.J. Abrams would ignore it with the expanded universe being so full of complex female characters that go into the dozens.
With “Episode VII” likely setting precedents in sci-fi and other films later, eliminating the tradition of the males dominating “Star Wars” may show that gender equality in their universe evolved faster than we possibly will.