It’s easy to assume that Star Wars‘ stormtroopers are all male. Granted, they conceal their bodies in armor, but their stature and voices generally point to firmly male coding, with Captain Phasma from the recent films being the only exception. It may surprise some of you to learn then, that creator George Lucas intended the villainous troops to be an equal opportunity employer since the release of the original film 42 years ago.
“Some of the storm troopers are women, but there weren’t that many women assigned to the Death Star,” the director wrote, following the release of 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. “We can assume that there are quite a few elsewhere.”
Assuming would be all that fans could do though, as Lucas never added female stormtroopers to his far, far away galaxy beyond this lip service. The rest of the movies made under his control have been criticized for their sparse female representation, in fact.
Although Carrie Fisher and Natalie Portman were both celebrated for their portrayal of Princess Leia and Queen Padme Amidala respectively, they were the only prominent female characters in the films they appeared in. Padme also drew criticism for being written as little more than a plot device for Anakin Skywalker’s heel turn.
Although Disney’s been doing a better job at casting women such as Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones in starring roles, they too have room for improvement. The canonical death of the aforementioned Phasma and the untimely loss of actress Carrie Fisher have left the modern films with fewer prominent women. Not to mention Disney Plus’ Rogue One prequel series, which shifts focus away from the film’s female lead and onto one of its male characters. Jon Favreau’s male-led The Mandalorian being announced on International Women’s Day also did little to help things.
Disney will soon have the chance to improve the Star Wars series’ track record of female representation, however, as The Rise of Skywalker drops on December 20th and looks to feature a more prominent female cast to end the new trilogy with.