After years of fans dreaming of LGBTQ+ representation in Star Wars the franchise has finally responded in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which features the 42-year-old franchise’s first ever same-sex kiss.
The ninth film in the Skywalker saga, and the eleventh live action film in the 42-year-old franchise, features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it – although undoubtably passionate – embrace between two female Resistance fighters. For the sake of spoilers, we won’t say who, but let’s just say they’re not major characters.
It’s not quite what fans who dreamed of Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron hooking up with John Boyega’s Finn will have hoped for, but it’s a hint of a step in the right direction from Disney.
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It’s a little bit more than we got from Disney’s much-discussed first ever live action LGBTQ+ moment in the 2017 remake of Beauty And The Beast. That moment, teased by director Bill Condon during the pre-release publicity for the film, saw Josh Gad’s Le Fou dancing with another man during a ball at the end of the film.
Condon called it “a nice, exclusively gay moment” and a backlash to this revelation saw the film pulled from some cinemas in America, given a 16+ rating in Russia, and Disney withdrew it from release in Malaysia after local censors demanded the moment be cut. It was eventually released there unedited.
However, when the film was finally released, the “moment” was so innocuous, and Gad’s portrayal negatively stereotypical, that many in the LGBTQ+ community felt cheated. GLAAD, the world’s LGBTQ media advocacy organisation, however called it “a huge step forward for the industry”.
The people who felt cheated are likely to feel similarly underrepresented by The Rise of Skywalker’s token gesture between two tertiary characters.
The film’s director JJ Abrams teased the moment earlier this month telling Variety: “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.”
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It’s clear Disney has a long way to go when it comes to inclusive representation in its major blockbusters, but Marvel’s The Eternals – coming 2020 – looks set to turn that hint of a step forward, into a huge flying leap for representation.
Marvel Studios introduced its first ever LGBTQ+ character in Avengers: Endgame, but in The Eternals, Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos is an openly gay superhero who is – according to Marvel’s Kevin Feige – “married, he’s got a family, and that is just part of who he is”.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in cinemas on Thursday, 19 December. Watch a trailer below.