WookieeLeaks: Notes on the Increasingly Diverse ‘Star Wars’ Universe
ScreenCrush’s WookieeLeaks is a weekly roundup of everything Star Wars! From Episode 7 to the upcoming spinoffs and the TV shows, if it pertains to that long ago, far away galaxy, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, we explore the diversity of the new Star Wars and delve into all of the craziest new rumors and spoilers.
There Are No White Male Heroes in the New Star Wars and That’s Great
At Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made it very clear that, under her watch, the new movies would go out of their way to be diverse. In the context of her statement, she was directly referring to upping the ante on female heroes, which makes sense. How frustrating must it be to be a female Star Wars fan and find yourself limited to that slave Leia get-up when you want to cosplay?
And in Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones, Kennedy has already put her money where her mouth is. Two of the major characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Rogue One are women and that’s fantastic. Do you really think that 51 percent of the galaxy would sit out the battle with the Empire? Not a chance.
But Lucasfilm’s commitment to diversity is going beyond that. Ridley’s The Force Awakens co-stars are the black John Boyega and the ethnically ambiguous (okay, Cuban/Guatemalan) Oscar Isaac. Jones’ Rogue One co-stars are the Arabic Riz Ahmed and the Mexican Diego Luna, who has reportedly joined the cast. As you can see, none of the heroes in the two new Star Wars movies are typical white guys. Heck, those typical white guys (Adam Driver and Ben Mendelsohn) have been cast as the villains!
Since the cast of the original trilogy and the prequels are almost entirely lily-white, this is a bold and necessary change of pace. Sure, the other movies had their token black guys in Billy Dee Williams and Samuel L. Jackson, but let’s be honest here — those guys had shockingly little to do for characters who are so fondly remembered. With Ridley, Jones, Boyega, Isaac, Ahmed and Luna, the new Star Wars movies are actually representing people from all over the world. Finally, the saga is going present its heroes as a diverse bunch from every corner of the galaxy. The universe is too big and these stories too sweeping to just be about white guys.
Let’s think about the big picture. These movies have the power to actually change the world. Few franchises hold so much sway over audiences. Nothing can effect change on the pop culture landscape like a new Star Wars movie. Ethnically diverse heroes in films this big are going to give fans of all colors and backgrounds the representation they deserve. More importantly, it’s going to show young and impressionable kids that anyone, no matter what they look like, can be a good guy.
In the age of computer-driven visual effects, spectacle rarely wows us. We’ve seen it all. But we haven’t seen a massive science fiction franchise go out of its way to be inclusive with its casting. Not like this. Not on this scale. Star Wars is fighting the good fight and I’ve never been prouder to be a fan.
Your Weekly Dose of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilers
It’s time to take a dip in the ever-unreliable pool of potential Star Wars spoilers! As always, take everything you see here with a grain of salt because it could very well be total BS. Or it could be totally on point. Proceed cautiously. In fact, let’s start with the least spoilery spoilers and work our way up from there. You know you. You’ll know if or when you need to tap out.
Let’s start with a common story point being (supposedly) put to rest. And we say “supposedly” because this could be a straight-up lie. Remember how everyone couldn’t stop denying that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and then, well, Benedict Cumberbatch played Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness? Although Disney has forced J.J. Abrams to open his Mystery Box more than he’d like, this could be a point where actors are contractually obligated to lie.
Anyway, Billie Lourd claims that no, she’s not playing a young Princess Leia in flashbacks in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, even though she’d love to do so:
That’s a lie. That’s a rumor. I wish I played a young Princess Leia. Disney, I’m available.
She even goes on to imply that her character is minor enough to not warrant any kind of discussion:
I can’t tell you about my character, or lack of character…
Truth or smokescreen? It seems awfully weird for an actress to publicly bemoan her work in a major movie unless she’s hiding something, but we could be reading too much into that.
Let’s advance to spoiler level two, which delves into the the “green planet” that was the subject of so many set photos. You know, the planet that is obviously home to a Rebel base since all of those set photos depicted grounded X-Wings and soldiers and mechanics and what-not. Some rumors claim that this is Yavin IV, the home of the Rebel base at the end of the first Star Wars (where Luke and Han got their medals). Although we don’t know the planet’s identity for sure, Making Star Wars says that the Rebels share their turf with local pirate Maz Kanata, who is played by Lupita Nyong’o.
In short, Princess Leia’s homebase is a hop, skip and a jump away from a badass pirate castle. In long:
The ‘green planet’ or Yavin IV is where Maz Kanata’s pirates seem to be and apparently where Princess Leia’s Resistance Base is stationed. This is why, when the emissary is killed, Leia is able to appear at the location rather quickly. I don’t know if Maz and her pirates and the Resistance have an agreement to coexist on the world or if they just keep to themselves. It does seem interesting that the Resistance is stationed in ancient temples and the pirates are in a huge castle. Perhaps Yavin has a richer history than we once thought?
The pirate castle (not to be confused with the Evil Castle/First Order Castle) from the film is very much like one you would see in Lucasfilm’s Willow. The castle has ramparts as you would expect a castle to have. It is very much a European castle with alcoves sporting slight technological constructions. There are large tapestries and even stained glass windows...
And now we enter spoiler zone level three, where we go into detail about what the interior of Maz Kanata’s castle looks like and directly discuss potential scenes that could take place there. According to Star Wars 7 News, this sequence will feature Maz using Jedi powers to levitate objects, which is very interesting indeed. Since she’s an odd-looking, diminutive alien, could she be a new, roguish counterpart to Yoda? Details below:
- There are ‘spiral’ type staircases leading upstairs and downstairs, these only have 4 to 5 steps on them and don’t actually lead anywhere (Set trickery). There is an extremely large fire pit in the centre of the set with animals on a spit and some awesome chairs made out of Xwing/Tie Fighter seats.
- Poe Dameron is definately NOT in this scene.
- Here is something interesting, I specifically asked if Maz Kanata takes the others somewhere to sit and talk, my guy said he has not seen footage of them going ‘downstairs’ so to speak, but this was obviously done on another set if its in the move BUT and this is kinda telling, she does take them to a table in the corner of the Cantina and begins using Jedi powers to make bowls of food and fruit hover in the air around the table, these were old school ‘on strings’ special effects. Whether this shot will be edited to make it look like they are elsewhere and the bowls replaced with ‘Flashback visions’ floating around them I don’t know sounds cool though.
- Another cool thing which I can’t figure, on the exterior shot where the cast ere told to react to a planet being destroyed (Might be the Castle or a moon, space station who knows) with the big greenscreen. The only other standout prop in this scene is a cockpit, don’t know what its doing there, or if its from a crashed ship but its sitting out the front of the Cantina (well not sure on distance but its outside).
That same report also has some interesting details that seem to color this era of the saga in a crazy, fascinating new light. We know that Maz Kanata has a castle. We know that Kylo Ren has a castle of his own. We know that, 30 years after the destruction of the Death Star, the galaxy is torn asunder by war and conflict and every planet and patch of territory has a different ruler or leader. Yes, Star Wars has gone fully medieval. And there’s more where that came from (but beware of level four spoilers in the final paragraph):
- I mentioned a while back how what I was told about everything on set was that everything seemed to have devolved, especially on Jakku. But I see a larger re-occuring theme and wanted to see how much medievil influence we can see from the brief glimpses we have seen of this movie and whether or not it might help us understand/dissect the movie anymore.
- The crossguard/broadsword sabre.
- Castles now seem to be the way forward for both bad and good guys.
- The new slingshot/catapult weapon we have heard of.
- Captain Phasma’s gleaming suit of armor with cloak draped over shoulder.
- Is Anakins sabre the new Excalibur? Is Finn the guy who can wield it?
- Oh another one, burning the village to the ground xD
- So……… The king of the castle takes his army, lead by his silver armoured 2nd in command and burns down a village in a search of a mystical sword once wielded by a legend, little does he know a group of young warriors are in possession of the sword (insert excalibur) and are on there way to a castle to find out about the sword from a small wizard (Maz). The angry king returns to his castle, assembles his army and destroys the wizards castle with his giant catapult…
History has shown us that the fall of every empire is followed by a dark age. Well, it looks like The Force Awakens takes place in one helluva dark age.
Check out a gallery of images from Star Wars: The Force Awakens