Here’s a game for you. Try and find a female pilot in the original Star Wars trilogy. Is there one in Star Wars? Nope. The Empire Strikes Back. Nope. Return of the Jedi? Yes! Well, kind of.
There’s apparently a female pilot in this scene.
Full marks if you can spot her (click image for a larger version).
In fact three female Rebel pilots were filmed. However, two of them were relegated to the cutting room floor, and while one made it into the final cut in a speaking role – she was dubbed by a man. *sigh
Many aspects of gender representation in Star Wars only became apparent to me as I
indoctrinated introduced our daughter to the ways of the force. Leia – a strong leader who doesn’t take any shit from smugglers, gangsters, or Grand Moffs – is a brilliant character. But it’s sad that the world (galaxy) she exists in is almost entirely male, especially amongst the rebels fighters.
The Rebel pilots who attack the Death Star? Male. The ones she addresses in The Empire Strikes Back? Male. Strike team in Return of the Jedi? Male.
My daughter has never really taken to the prequels. I’ve tried not to communicate my own lack of enthusiasm for them, but whenever I’ve suggested we watch one, she has insisted on an original trilogy movie instead. It was the downfall of attempting the Machete Order prior to seeing The Force Awakens.
While I broadly approve, all credit to that much maligned trilogy, which featured female pilots throughout the series – beginning with very first scene. The Clone Wars cartoon also frequently had female characters piloting ships that it stopped being noticed, similarly the currently airing Star Wars Rebels. Which is how it should be.
But for my daughter, Star Wars is really about the original trilogy, the continuity that begins with Star Wars (1977). And given the lack of women in these movies, and that when Leia is removed you have 63 SECONDS of women speaking, spotting a female X-Wing pilot in a Star Wars comic – who also speaks – was significant.
Female Star Wars Characters: A New Hope
The latest comics, from Disney owned Marvel under the supervision of Disney owned Lucasfilm, are filling in many of the blanks between the movies. The panel pictured is from the Princess Leia miniseries, set between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and features Leia dealing with the aftermath of the destruction of her home planet Alderaan. The ‘lady X-Wing pilot’ is Evaan, a fellow Alderaanian (?). My daughter was very taken with this image, and we put together our own LEGO version – reflecting this inclusivity in our toys.
I am impressed that this and other comics are retroactively adding female characters to the Star Wars canon. Another comic, Shattered Empire, sees Poe Dameron’s mother Shara as one of the most important fighter pilots in the attack on the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Later in the story the memorable female trio of Shara, Princess Leia, and the Queen of Naboo take flight in starfighters to defend the planet from the ‘shattered empire’ attack on the planet.
This new gender inclusivity is reflected in the latest movie instalment. Away from Rey, Captain Phasma, and Maz Kanata, The Force Awakens has multiple times more women than the entire original trilogy. When I asked J.J. Abrams about this, he said: “We have wonderful cast of good guys, bad guys, pilots, stormtroopers, that happen to be female.”
Seeing so many female characters in these worlds ultimately prevents girls (and boys) questioning their right to exist in them, and helps me justify the passing on of my enthusiasm for the galaxy far, far away to my daughter.
Star Wars © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.
7 thoughts on “Female Star Wars Characters: The Importance of a lady X-Wing pilot”
I never really thought about this too much before but the thought may have crossed my mind, at least they have made up for it in the force awakens. I do love a star wars film!
Yeah this was bugging me too. Hard to explain to my and daughter. Glad the new one is undoing the damage. Great to hear comics are too.
You met jj? Nice.
As a daddy to three–soon to be four–daughters, I love this. The girls and I have been having a blase watching the Star Wars series together, and I am stoked to hear that they are stepping up their heroine roles! Star Wars Legos, here we come 🙂
I loved this so much, particularly, the X-wing pilot you made, I made my OH read it. He loves Star Wars and agreed with you. The new film is much more like it. But the originals were made in the 70’s and it was very different back then. In other ways, no t so much sadly. (I’m ignoring the other ones. It seems best)
I think it just gets better from here. My 3yo girl will hopefully grow up thinking it’s normal for female characters to be hero’s in the Star Wars flicks.
Yup, I hope so too 🙂
I didn’t see A New Hope yet, but my husband took our oldest 3 (2 girls and a boy) and said that Rey was phenomenal. Not only was she a female lead, but she wasn’t a stereotype of one: she was a strong character that just happened to be female. I’m looking forward to seeing it myself when it comes out on video.