Women's Stories Are More Prominent Than Ever in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
Let's be honest, the women steal the show.
General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) steal the show in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It is easily the most feminist Star Wars movie to date; its female identifying characters are given agency beyond men, interact with one other outside of the context of men, have their own relationships with one another, and lead the charge while doing so.
This post is one big spoiler for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Read at your own risk.
Side note: feminism isn’t just about people who identify as women. The film’s main male characters — Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, and Luke Skywalker — were all allowed their own room to grow and change and feel their feelings, which is a subject that more male-focused feminism often looks at. In our world, men are often told time and time again that they’re not allowed to feel emotion; the guys in The Last Jedi were not only allowed to feel emotion but encouraged to, and that’s lovely.
But, back to what we’re really talking about here. The women of Star Wars: The Last Jedi are fantastically complicated and redefine what it means to be a female character in the Star Wars universe. Let’s celebrate just how wonderful they all are and what makes them so wonderful in the first place.
Rey is still our hero. And the best part about her being our hero is that she’s imperfect. The Last Jedi complicates its characters like never before, and Rey’s internal struggle over where her path will lead is a rare storyline for a female character. As Luke notes, Rey is immediately drawn to the Dark side of the Force, sympathizes with Kylo Ren, and always sees the best in people despite her tragic backstory.
This is a character who finds her own path, throwing aside the black-and-white novelty of previous Star Wars stories and allowing Rey to forge a new identity.
Rey is a nobody. But that doesn’t mean she can’t be the hero we need (and desperately do not deserve).
Vice Admiral Holdo
In a less conscious story, Dern’s Holdo would have been cast as a figure for audiences to hate. She’s in direct opposition to Oscar Isaac’s Poe, the golden boy of the Resistance and a fan favorite since his introduction in The Force Awakens. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has Holdo and Poe going toe-to-toe, glaring each other down as Holdo calls Poe a reckless “flyboy” and accuses him of hubris.
A less intelligent narrative would have framed Holdo as “the bitch.” Seriously. Here’s a stern, beautiful female character who audiences have never seen before; she swoops in, takes control of the situation, and shames a favorite male character like he’s an insolent child.
But because of the way the story is framed, audiences get that Poe is being an insolent child and therefore deserves the dressing down. It’s also later revealed that Holdo had a plan all along that would save the Resistance. She stuck to her guns while everyone else panicked and because Leia trusts in her, we trust in her — even if Poe doesn’t.
General Leia Organa
Leia is the heart and soul of The Last Jedi. Her roles as leader, mother figure, and guiding light are wholly expected by anyone who knows anything about Star Wars, but it’s her refusal to be defined by the men in her life that has always made Leia one of the most famed feminist characters in cinema.
Now, it’s only better because Leia isn’t the only woman around.
Even as her son breaks her heart again and again, as her brother Luke complicates everything, as Poe goes against her wishes and forces her to stun his ass, Leia is steadfast. She’s seen it all. She can fly (literally), so Leia’s quiet determination and unrelenting sense of humor is just another reason why everyone should love her.
Rose Tico is here to kick your ass with righteous determination burning in her eyes. Rose’s entire story in The Last Jedi is defined entirely by her love for her sister and her desire to do the right thing. Not only does the film introduce Rose as a complicated character with an even more complicated backstory, it also endears audiences to her immediately. She’s a spitfire, a stand-out hero with the kind of sacrificial storyline usually reserved for male characters.
Rose even saves Finn’s butt when he stupidly decides self-sacrifice is the way to go. Very rarely has a Star Wars character so completely decided their own fate. You go, Rose.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now in theaters.