On Tuesday, news broke that Colin Trevorrow would no longer direct Star Wars: Episode IX, with subsequent reports that persistent script issues influenced the decision. Speculation currently places Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson as a likely candidate to take over the 2019-scheduled film — but, nothing against him or his work, he shouldn’t. Trevorrow’s departure gives Lucasfilm a new opportunity to finally hire a female director for a Star Wars film, a chance it needs to take.
No woman has ever directed a Star Wars film, though around the time of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story many expressed their hope to finally see the galaxy far, far away’s glass ceiling shattered. Women have influenced the production of Star Wars for the better since the original trilogy. Marcia Lucas edited the first three Star Wars films, although she was uncredited on Empire Strikes Back. For her work on A New Hope, Marcia Lucas took home an Oscar for Best Film Editing at the 50th Academy Awards.
Marcia Lucas did more than just edit the original trilogy. She also helped make key changes to the first film’s script that affected the series as a whole. In the first movie alone, she’s said to have suggested killing Obi-Wan Kenobi, keeping the kiss between Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia before they swung across the chasm inside the Death Star, and heavily revised the trench scene at the end. Without Marcia Lucas’ input, the original trilogy wouldn’t be the same.
As representation has become more prominent on-screen in the last few years, so has Star Wars increasingly put women at the forefront. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the number of female protagonists in the top 100 domestic-grossing films of 2016 was up 7 percent from 2015, but it’s noteworthy that women only comprised 32 percent of speaking characters.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) is at the center of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and, presumably, Episode IX. The character plays much the same role that Luke Skywalker played in the original trilogy, and as he was a role model for young fans, Rey is a role model for young girls and young boys.
And it’s not just Rey. Rogue One introduced fans to Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the film’s lead character, who led a group of Rebels to steal the plans for the Death Star. The Last Jedi will introduce Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), a Resistance maintenance worker. Each of these characters plays an important role at the center of the action, much like Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia did in the original trilogy.
It’s so important for girls and women to see themselves reflected in the media they consume, and Star Wars has begun to do an admirable job of representing them — but there’s so much more than can be done. A different report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film noted that, in 2016, women directed only 7 percent of the top 250 domestic-grossing films, down from 9 percent in 2015. Representation is increasing on-screen, but not behind it. Women need to be represented behind the camera, too.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy made some comments in November about bringing a female director in to do Star Wars, remarking, “they’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience.” While Kennedy took criticism for her statements, she did later clarify that Lucasfilm was certainly going to consider placing a woman in the directorial chair.
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