Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh film in Hollywood's biggest franchise, hits theaters in less than three weeks. Despite several trailers and TV spots, and Star Wars actors reacting to said trailers and TV spots, though, an impressively tight seal has been kept on the actual plot of the film. Director J.J. Abrams is likely tired of being prodded for details in advance of its release, but credit to him for coming up with clever ways to say something new without actually revealing anything. In a recent interview on Good Morning America, Abrams discussed how he hopes having a strong female lead will make The Force Awakens appealing to audiences beyond Star Wars' largely male hardcore fanbase.
"Star Wars was always a boys' thing and a movie that dads take their sons to, and though that's still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well," Abrams told GMA host George Stephanopoulos. A big reason for that potential shift in mentality comes from making one of the leads a strong female character — Rey, portrayed by 23-year-old British actress Daisy Ridley, makes up one half of a pair through which we'll see this latest Star Wars trilogy unfold. The other is Finn, portrayed by Nigerian-British actor John Boyega. Both are relatively unknown actors, which sets up The Force Awakens as an ideal bridge between respecting the films that came before it and embarking on a completely fresh story.
"Daisy Ridley, who is the young woman who's the lead in the movie, along with John Boyega, these two are extraordinary. I cannot wait for you to see them," said Abrams.
With TV finally getting the hint about a lack of realistic, complex women portrayed in Hollywood projects, it was smart of Abrams to take a gender-balanced approach to The Force Awakens — for almost four decades the Star Wars has seemed to cater mostly to a particular subset of "nerdy" males. While there's nothing wrong with satisfying loyal fans, if a franchise is going to persist for this long, it should naturally undergo an evolution at certain points. Infusing a fresh feel with two leads who aren't white males is a compelling way to do just that. Star Wars is a boys' club no longer.
Cover image: Star Wars via YouTube