Star Wars: The End of an Era

Madison Castello, Op/Ed Editor

“Luke, I am your father.” Despite being ironically misquoted, this line has branded a franchise that has finally come to an end. Fans have fought with lightsabers drawn beside Yoda, fallen in love with Padme & Anakin, engaged in epic space battles with Han Solo, and sought freedom with Leia & Luke. Many have grown up with these characters and are sad to see the series come to an end in such a lackluster way. 

The multi-million dollar series began with a new, unexplored side of science fiction that created an entirely new world for movie fanatics to experience. It all began with inspiring characters fighting for what they believed was right, while addressing their internal “light and dark” side. Whether it was with Luke, who fought for freedom and justice alongside the jedi, or Anakin who chose the dark side but ultimately prevailed when it came to loved ones, both protagonists taught audiences that hope is worth fighting for.  

With this latest series, we were introduced to characters such as the notorious Kylo Ren, Rey, and Finn–essentially, a teenager with anger issues, a whiny girl, and a side character whose entire script consists of screaming other characters’ names during battle instead of, you know, helping the fight. To say fans were unhappy with this ending would be an understatement; we were devastated. All of the battles, deaths, and character development ultimately ended with this disappointment, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It may be “the rise” of a familiar surname, but it was undeniably the fall to the franchise. 

Fans were first introduced to this sequel with The Force Awakens in 2015 with an excellent start to the trilogy. We were given a brave female hero, a troubled villain with a fascinating background, and plenty of diverse characters. The story-line followed them along epic adventures, intricate space battles, and the classic internal light-versus-dark battle. Yet what started as an awesome plot, seemed to crumble and fall apart in the latest film. Rey and Kylo started as awe-inspiring main characters with intriguing backstories, but soon became moody teenagers with no respect for what the previous generations fought for. Leia never would have left her friends alone to start up an old spaceship just to gaze longingly into the horizon for her erratic boyfriend, while the legendary Chewbacca gets captured for no particular reason. 

The directors cut out character depth, any sense of general purpose, and the basis of why this franchise was originally such a hit. These acts were all egregiously devastating, but the worst was the lack of diversity. The previous movies sought to break down all prejudices against sexual orientation and racial stereotypes, only for The Rise of Skywalker to reverse that progress. Producers had the chance to give audiences interracial romantic interests, same-sex couples, and an overall deviation from the boring “ideal” Hollywood love interest, and yet they held back. 

Fans walked into that theater expecting so much, only to be given so little. The second movie, The Last Jedi, gave us an adorable couple of different nationalities with Rose and Finn. This Asian actress and African-American actor gave the audience blissful hope for a more accepting result, only for their romance to inexplicably fall apart as the network forced the characters back into same-race relationships. They even went as far as to introduce a random new character into the series, just so Finn could have someone to love that fit into the expected mold. Yet it doesn’t stop at that. Poe Dameron, a side character that many, including myself, fell in love with, was labeled as a mere spice runner in this movie. That may not seem so bad as it does differ from the common smuggler backstory that most characters from Star Wars originate from, but the problem here is Poe’s actor is Hispanic. The Daily Dot describes this as “a thoughtlessly racist subtext,” as this character had so much more potential for an extraordinary role in the movie. In the comics, Poe grew up on Yavin 4, attended a flight academy at the encouragement of his dead mother, and later joined the Resistance where Leia took him in as one of her own. This character had such a glaringly clear opportunity for development and a break from racial prejudices but directors disregarded this opportunity without hesitation. 

Not only that, but fans were promised another aspect of representation but were horribly disappointed. J.J. Abrams stated that, “In the case of the LGBTQ community, it was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film.” From the past two movies, the characters Finn and Poe had interactions that seemed to be pointing to a chance at a romance that our world desperately needs to see. Yet what were we given? A disastrous letdown. Both potential LGBTQ+ characters were haphazardly given female love interests that had no contribution to the plot at all. We thought we’d get a beautiful relationship between characters whom we’ve known for the past two movies, characters who actually meant something to fans. But, instead, they included two random individuals with a meaningless kiss. On the bright side, a whole 1.2 seconds of “representation” was given. 

In conclusion, myself and millions of fans are disappointed not only by the pitiful attempt at a decent plot line, but also by the producers for neglecting the opportunity for representation in the film. Whether it’s movies, books, or weekly shows on television, characters that properly portray one’s ethnicity or sexual orientation can mean the world. It’s quite disheartening to be promised these great expectations, only to be given a meager attempt at what could have inspired many. Media nowadays seems to follow the same script with little deviation, and alas, our beloved series proved to be no different. Fans have been loyal to Star Wars for 43 years. It’s incredibly disappointing to see it draw to such a distasteful conclusion. While this was said to be the last Star Wars film, we can only hope they will try to revive it somehow, next time, with more inclusive choices.