There was a time, long ago, when Star Wars and diversity weren’t exactly the talk of the town. The Rebellion was led and chock-full of white guys, Leia was the only woman in sight until Return of the Jedi introduced Mon Mothma to the world. Lando seemed to be the only black guy in the universe. And then the prequels arrived and we had diverse characters like Mace Windu and Bail Organa but they still were not the main event of the story. They were only pieces of the puzzle that made up a trilogy about three white heroes, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padme Amidala.
Then Disney bought Star Wars and suddenly diversity was thrust into our faces in a blunt way. Remember the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens and how it literally began; Finn, a black stormtrooper, pops onto the screen breathing heavily on a planet that, at the time, looked like Tatooine. Suddenly, it was very clear this was a new era of Star Wars. An era where its major black hero in the story wielded Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber on the official poster.
And since then, the diversity has not come to a close.
One of the few great things about the Sequel Trilogy has been the diversity. I mean, when have you ever seen three major characters of color in one scene together in Star Wars like this particular scene in The Last Jedi? Heh, never! It’s been a fantastic change for the franchise and now that the floodgates are open it’s pretty much never going to end.
So, for this week’s Who’s Your Favorite? I’m asking you which is your favorite diverse character in the franchise? (This list will not include the cartoon characters.)
Whether we’re talking about Donald Glover’s interpretation of the suave gambler in Solo: A Star Wars Story or Billy Dee Williams’ iconic portrayal of the character which made Lando so beloved in the first place, Lando was the first character of color in the franchise which, of course, makes him pretty special in the whole scheme of things.
Captain Panaka is a character that can be easily forgettable in the whole scheme of things but, after Lando, he was only the second major black character to appear in a Star Wars film until Mace Windu who would appear later in The Phantom Menace. And if you think about it, he’s a pretty cool character. I wonder what happened to him…
When the Prequel Trilogy arrived we learned that the leader of the Jedi Order was a black man named Mace Windu. 😱 And who got to play this awesome, purple-lightsaber-wielding-Master-of-the-Force? Samuel L. Jackson. That’s pretty fantastic.
Jango Fett is pretty much the only reason why I will continue to want to watch Attack of the Clones every now and then. And he has one of the greatest outfits in the entire franchise.
In the Prequel Trilogy you had the prominent senator of Alderaan, Bail Organa, who would go on to help found and thus support the Rebellion during the dark days of the Empire. He would also go on to be Leia’s adopted father, raising her into the powerful, benevolent woman that she became. Organa’s role has been small but his impact on the story has been mighty.
Poe Dameron’s role in the Sequel Trilogy was once going to be relegated to a small role at the beginning of The Force Awakens, as he would’ve actually died like Finn believed he had on their crash landing in Jakku, but due to Oscar Isaac practically begging Abrams to not kill his character out of the story (because he said he always gets killed in movies) he would go on to be the face of the Resistance for the rest of the trilogy.
Becoming the franchise’s first major Latino character, Poe Dameron wove his way into the hearts of fans around the world with his constant charm and those sick piloting skills. Plus, he became a really great leader after having made some serious mistakes, showing that he too was a character who could overcome great obstacles.
There are many who feel that Finn’s epic storyline was swallowed up by the searing attention on Rey’s story as well as maybe even Poe’s story arc throughout the trilogy but it can’t be forgotten how he managed to grow over the course of the three films. He’s a character that one can’t help but love and I’m hoping his story will be continued in the years to come.
While Poe Dameron was the first major Latino character in Star Wars it was Cassian Andor that really broke boundaries in terms of diversity for the Latino community. One article that is seared into my mind is an article a person wrote about taking their elderly Latino grandfather to see Rogue One for the first time and their grandfather being surprised that Cassian was speaking with his native accent in the film.
Diego Luna has said that at first, they were contemplating him speaking with an American accent but eventually, they decided against it and I’m thankful for that. His accent makes him different, makes him intriguing, and it shows that Star Wars is a sprawling story with plenty of different ethnicities that inhabit its borders…finally.
Brave in the face of overwhelming odds, Bodhi Rook is a character that played a powerful role in the leadup to the first Death Star’s destruction, for without him gaining a conscience, he would’ve never delivered Galen’s message to Saw Gerrera who in turn would share it with Jyn Erso and so forth and so forth.
Who would’ve ever thought that Forest Whitaker would be in Star Wars but he was as rebel insurgent Saw Gerrera, a hardened warrior whose near-entire existence had involved fighting oppression. Whether that meant fighting the Trade Federation to liberate his homeworld of Onderon or keeping the Empire on their toes as he fought them at every turn, Gerrera’s story has been one of war, war, and more war.
Chirrut Imwe is a fascinating character and with Donnie Yen (Ip Man himself) playing him, it was destined for him to shine in a movie that is my favorite in the franchise.
Alongside Chirrut you have Baze Malbus, his unwavering companion who sought to make sure his dear friend would always have someone to protect him.
Rose Tico would become the first major Asian female Star Wars character in the franchise but unfortunately, unlike nearly every character on this list, she was bombarded with a barrage of disdain by fans, relegating her to a near-cameo role in The Rise of Skywalker that was almost atrocious to observe.
Rose was a character unlike any other. Her sweetness permeated each scene and because she wasn’t your typical Star Wars heroine she stood out, becoming unforgettable, whether for better or worse. I wish we had been given more Rose but maybe, one day, her story can be continued, and I’m hoping not via cartoon or comic series but rather a live-action story.
Solo: A Star Wars Story boasted a powerful, resilient woman in Thandie Newton’s Val. Unfortunately, she would only be in the movie for the first thirty minutes of the film, rendering her easily forgettable. But hey, we could always learn more about her in the future, whether that be in a live-action setting for a story prior to the events of Solo or in a novel, comic series, or cartoon.
Val is another character I wish we had more time to explore.
Ever since this character appeared for the first time in the Vanity Fair issue I have been in love with this lady’s awesomeness. She has a bow, she has a cape, she rides a horse, and she was once a stormtrooper just like Finn. Amazing!
If her story isn’t continued in some format I am going to be positively livid! 😁
The Mandalorian is cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool! Enough said.
Fennec Shand had a small role to play in the fifth episode of The Mandalorian‘s first season as a renowned assassin and boy was she awesome. I’d like to think that she isn’t actually dead and will return in a later story (or the next season). I mean, once you have someone like Darth Maul who literally got cut in half return from the dead it seems pretty obvious that anybody has the chance to return if the writers can concoct an explanation sensible enough to make sense.
(Hence, Palpatine’s return. 😒)
Carl Weathers in Star Wars? That’s a dream come true that I didn’t even know I needed. Thank you, The Mandalorian.
Moff Gideon, it seems, is the primary villain of The Mandalorian , and, thankfully, he wasn’t killed off in the last episode of the season. Quite the contrary, in fact. He will return in the second season of The Mandalorian and he has made it very clear that he’s going to be kicking some serious butt in the next season. Oh yeah!