Annlyel explores the rise of the heroine’s journey in the galaxy far, far away…
As a young girl, I loved Star Wars. Star Wars transported me to another world with lightsabers and aliens, good guys and bad guys, fantastical worlds and awesome ships, but one thing the franchise lacked for me was a female role model. Padme was a sappy disappointment and Princess Leia, while she was a fierce heroine, I was more of a Luke fan than anything else.
And honestly, Star Wars was catered more to boys than girls back in the day because of the obvious lack of women. In fact, at one time there were so little women in Star Wars that Family Guy made a joke about it in its Return of the Jedi parody special. But, over the past three years, women have come to the forefront of this franchise’s stories. Now, as a woman, I can look at Star Wars with a feeling of pride because there are so many incredible heroines to celebrate. So, on that note, let’s take a look at how the heroines in this franchise have evolved over the years.
Princess Leia: The First Heroine in Star Wars
Leia was a powerful presence in the original trilogy when it was (at the time) a male-dominated galaxy. She faced fear with strength, she fought against tyranny on the front lines with her fellow rebellion soldiers when she could’ve easily hidden away on a Senate council and let others do her work for her, and she never shed a tear, even when it seemed appropriate to do so. But her journey didn’t end with Return of the Jedi. Instead of letting her remain the princess that she was J.J Abrams promoted her to general of the Resistance where she would now lead her followers in the fight against the First Order.
Her strength has not waned, if anything she’s gotten stronger, and her determination to survive and aid the galaxy can be observed through her use of the Force in The Last Jedi. Leia has gone from the determined princess that she was to a wizened and powerful leader. Now that’s evolution.
Senator Amidala: A Wasted Opportunity for Greatness
If Padme had been conceived in this day and age she probably would be my favorite heroine. Her strength was so apparent and inspiring in The Phantom Menace as she led her people to a victory against the Trade Federation. But that awesomeness that she possessed was eradicated in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith as George Lucas decided to focus on Anakin’s story and place her on the I-Love-You-Ani back burner.
Rey: The First Major Female Jedi
The Force Awakens surprised the world as it introduced its main protagonist to be a woman. But not just any woman. An independent, strong, resourceful, and very powerful woman who now stands as the potential chosen one of this trilogy which previously belonged to two men; Anakin and Luke Skywalker. How awesome is that?
Her journey hasn’t been easy. Not in the slightest. She has had to evade the First Order, face the frightening power of the Force, learn that her parents were “nobodies”, but through it all, she has grown stronger. That’s a heroine that a girl can look up to and that’s one of the reasons why I love her so much.
Jyn Erso: A Heroine With a Rebellious Streak
Jyn didn’t want to be a hero. She just wanted to live her life away from the politics and allegiances she felt were forced onto her as a child. But one thing Jyn didn’t like was a bully and we all know, the Empire was a giant bully. Seeing a city get destroyed that held thousands of innocent lives in the blink of an eye was not only frightening but it made her realize that she needed to help save the galaxy from people as evil as those who supported the Empire.
Her tale is inspiring, for she fought to the very death to bring an end to the very weapon that would destroy billions of lives. And while we weren’t able to spend more time with her she’s still one of the greatest Star Wars heroines.
Rose Tico: The First Major Female Heroine of Color
Rose is also another inspiring figure for girls because she isn’t your typical heroine. Heroines in movies are usually eye-catching as soon as you see them. Rose is very much a character that you would glimpse in the background as an extra or maybe as a character walking by the camera onto some unknown destination. And that’s what makes Rose so special.
She’s a “grunt”, a mechanic who isn’t typically referenced alongside other more popular heroes like her sister, Paige or Poe Dameron, but as was evident in The Last Jedi she’s just as much a hero as anyone else. She may not have the Force, she may not be a princess or a queen, but she is a yet another perfectly independent heroine who knows what she wants and is going to get it. I love it.
Qi’ra: A Female Character With a Dark Side
Qi’ra isn’t exactly a heroine because she ended up choosing her bond to Crimson Dawn over Han but she is inspiring for her adaptiveness. Qi’ra could’ve been killed after her failed escape attempt from Corellia but she didn’t. She made deals, proved her loyalty, and was given to Dryden Vos to work for him.
Their relationship hasn’t been elaborated on as much as I would love to see but her strength and skill as a Crimson Dawn lieutenant rubbed off on Dryden in a memorable way. He started to trust her more and more, much to his imminent doom, and she became the queen of the castle. If you really think about it her rise to power was very similar to that of a Sith’s storyline. Sith apprentices are always killing their masters to become the leaders (just look at Kylo Ren) and now her story has evolved in the same fashion. If there were sequels to Solo we may be able to discover what happens to her storyline but until then her journey is left in the blue.
Of course, if I were to really herald every Star Wars heroine we would be here all day so I’ll leave this list here but as you can see women’s’ status in this franchise has changed exponentially. I mean, think of all of the other incredible women that we’ve gotten to enjoy in the last few years; Captain Phasma, Val, L3-37, Admiral Holdo, Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren.
Girls can now look at this franchise and see a bit of themselves within these awesome female characters and that’s so important. If Star Wars is going to continue inspiring and bringing joy to millions of fans around the world for another forty years we need to continue to see an equal ratio of incredible male and female characters we can all love.
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