Lucasfilm announced on Tuesday that the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, which saw the departure of director Colin Trevorrow last week, found a new-ish director in JJ Abrams. Abrams, who wrote and directed 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will do the same for the ninth chapter of the saga, with Argo writer Chris Terrio helping him with the story.
In light of the news, many fans on Twitter have taken to digging up an interview from The Daily Beast last year where he addressed the possibility of openly LGBT characters in Star Wars:
“When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity...To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
With Abrams back on for Episode IX, the hope for many fans is that this means explicitly queer characters will be in the film, or previously existing characters will have their queerness confirmed in the film. The rise of LGBT characters in media has grown significantly in the years between Star Wars’ post-prequels dormant period and its recent resurgence. With it being the massive media juggernaut that it is and having such a large universe with a plethora of aliens, it was always very backward (but also a product of its time) that there wasn’t a character who was confirmed to be queer or transgender, and not declared as such by the fandom.
Through fans, head canons like bisexual Luke Skywalker and trans woman Boba Fett took shape, even when the material itself didn’t really have any evidence to support or dispute these desires. Like so many other properties, those in charge at Lucasfilm have given very vague indications that queer characters exist in the universe without being too concrete, which is how you end up with Rogue One’s Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe being determined by fans to be a couple. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you end up with a situation like this year’s Beauty and the Beast where a small “gay moment” gets blown wildly out of proportion.