While there may be some small yet vocal group of “fans” that are lamenting the idea women being leads in Star Wars, those of us that understand Star Wars know that women have always the most important characters in the movies. They have driven the plot, started our other heroes along their path and taken charge of situations. Today we’re going to go over the many contributions the women of Star Wars have made to our favorite movies.
The OG from the OT
While Luke is our chosen one, Leia is the one that drives the plot of A New Hope. She has the stolen plans to the Death Star. She sends R2 to complete her mission of getting the plans and picking up Obi-Wan when she knows she will be captured. In handcuffs and being lorded over by Vader and AFTER being tortured by Vader she is still snarky and willing to lie to the man holding her prisoner. She takes over her own rescue right after Luke and Han open the door to her cell. She then correctly tells Han they were let go easy then once back at her base she starts issuing orders to start preparing for a fight. She’s the boss, she doesn’t let the death of her Father and destruction of her planet stop her from doing what needs to be done. There isn’t a stronger character in the movie.
In ESB we find her still in charge of the Rebellion on Hoth. She makes the final decision to evacuate and stays as long as she can to coordinate the defense and evacuation. After the evacuation she constantly challenges Han and while he made the right call while in flight once they arrived at Cloud City Han would have done better to listen to her and trust her gut. She continues to fight after Han is frozen and takes charge once Lando and his men free her and Chewie. When we catch up to her in RotJ she left her position as leader of the Rebellion though this is not explicitly said. She helps plan and rescue Han Solo and then joins the team headed to Endor.
Finally in TFA she is once again in charge of a small group of fighters against a superior force. Now know as a general and having been the focus of an assassination attempt. Once again she is in charge and leading. She even puts into motion the confrontation between Han and Kylo by encouraging Han to save their son.
The Queen of them all
As I said in my review of The Phantom Menace, Padme is the main character of the movie. She makes every decision that pushes the plot. She is the ELECTED Queen of Naboo as a teenager. She speaks to senate and pushes for a new Chancellor, which in turn gives Palpatine the opportunity he was waiting for. She designs the battle plan for the Battle of Naboo and fights on the front lines. She is the very definition of a lead character. She is reason our male characters do what they do including Anakin. Let’s be honest; her speaking to Anakin in the shop is the reason he followed them. While her role is reduced in AotC and RotS she is still one of the three leads and makes the decisions that move the plot even when her choices are limited. She is never a passive character.
The Next Hope
When it was first announced that Rey would be our hero for the new Star Wars there was some grumbling online about this choice being “PC”. After the movie was released she was labeled a “Mary Sue”. I have been tempted to go through and point out how just about everything she does is actually explained in movie and she is no more a Mary Sue than Luke or Anakin were Gary Stu’s, but this has been done multiple times and I’m not sure I can really do more than what they’ve said. However I do want to discredit one I keep seeing that really bugs the crap out of me. Her being a good pilot/mechanic mainly because NO ONE questioned Anakin, a ten year old SLAVE, of having these abilities but god forbid a girl have them. She says herself she was a pilot. She also says she’s flown multiple ships which explains how she could figure out how to fly the Millennium Falcon. Also she isn’t great at flying it. She continues to hit things, barely miss other things, and honestly she starts off quite horribly. She makes two cool moves out of a five minute chase. Poe does more in 35 seconds and not one complaint has shown up about how freaking crazy good he is. Especially without the force. I mean he’s as good or better than Anakin was and he’s the best we’ve seen on screen.The next part of her being a mechanic… she’s been striping ships for over ten years, she has to know what to look for, where they’d be, and what they do to be good at it based on the situation on Jakku. She knew the modifications the Falcon had probably because she worked for Plutt maybe she even did some of the work on the Falcon itself. Plus, it’s not like she got it right every time, Rathtars anyone? With that out of the way Rey is our chosen one, she is fulfilling the Luke role in this trilogy. In some ways the plot will move forward no matter what she does, fate and the force will compel her story. We don’t know what else is in store for Rey, but we do know that she will be the main character of the Trilogy and the leader of the next generation of Jedi.
If there is one failing of Star Wars it has been the lack of representation of women in smaller roles. Most of the background characters and smaller parts are filled by men unless they HAVE to women like Anakin’s Mom Shmi or any of Padme’s handmaids/decoys. However it does appear that this is changing, based on Rebels, Rogue One and the Clone Wars we can expect to have the Star Wars Universe more accurately represent women on screen. And that can only make Star Wars better.