Princess Leia

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Princess Leia

There is a line in Star Wars: A New Hope which often gets lost in the greater scope of the film, a quote which points to the toughness of the movie’s lone female protagonist, Princess Leia. It comes when Darth Vader, the movie’s villain, speaks to Grand Moff Tarkin, the secondary villain in the film. Pacing back and forth as if annoyed, Vader admits that, “Her [Leia’s] resistance to the mind probe is considerable. It will be some time before we can extract any information from her.” Prior to this admission, we saw Vader enter Princess Leia’s prison cell with an interrogation droid floating behind him, a needle protruding from the droid and Leia’s face giving off subtle apprehension. Now, Vader states that it was for not, that the Princess has resisted this “mind probe” and that breaking her will take more time.

I have always loved this line; it has always resonated with me because it points directly to the fearless resolve which resides in the heart of Princess Leia. Even before Vader utters these words, we know that Leia is a force to be reckoned with, a whirlwind of confidence capable of holding her own. After all, it is Leia who was leading the mission to Tatooine to find Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi at the film’s outset. When the ship fell under attack, Leia created a new plan to secure Kenobi’s help EVEN AS IMPERIAL SOLDIERS STORMED THE VESSLE! Dispatching the droid R2-D2 to Tatooine’s surface, Leia awaited her inevitable capture, and even shoots/kills an Imperial stormtrooper before she is apprehended.

Leia and Vader
Leia confronts Darth Vader after her ship is attacked and she is captured.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Captured by the Empire’s white-armored soldiers, Princess Leia is escorted before Darth Vader, the nefarious and imposing villain we were JUST formally introduced to as he lifted a man by the neck and crushed his windpipe. The black-clad Vader towers above the petite, white dressed Princess, an obvious visual meant to represent the power of the evil Empire towering over the small, fledgling Rebellion. But Leia is far from intimidated. Oh no, not only does she stand tall next to this masked monster, she speaks first AND is the one who chastises him with palpable disdain!!!

In just a few frames, Leia presents herself as competent and fearless, especially under pressure. Rather than quivering and backing down, she boldy stands her ground against imposing odds. It is no wonder then that later, when Darth Vader assaults Leia, probing her mind for the “location of the Rebel base”, her resistance is “considerable.” Princess Leia is the embodiment of fearless resolve, the very heart and soul of the small Rebellion against an Empire which spans a galaxy. There was never a chance the mind probe would work, it was always going to be an act of futility on the part of Vader.

An Alternative Form of Persuasion

It is Grand Moff Tarkin who chooses a new tactic to extract the information they seek following the failure of the mind-probe. Rather than probing her mind, Tarkin gives Leia a choice: give up the location of the Rebel base OR watch as her home planet of Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star superweapon. It is a brilliant move on Tarkin’s part, one that catches Leia off-guard. Pleading with him, the Princess turns into a supplicant as she tells the Grand Moff her planet is “peaceful” and has “no weapons.” Tarkin, of course, does not care and, presenting the question again, demands to know where the Rebel base is located. It is now that Leia gives in: “Dantooine. They’re on Dantooine.”

Leia Stares Down Tarkin
Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin square-off.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

That Leia gives in to Tarkin is shocking, but all the more painful as Leia must continue to stand and watch as Alderaan is destroyed. This is an unsurprising move on Tarkin’s part, an obvious example being made to the whole galaxy (and the Princess) that no one, not even “peaceful” worlds, are safe from Imperial military might. Now, the fearless young woman who stood her ground at the film’s opening, who chastised Vader and resisted his mind probe must steel herself as she watches her home world and her family perish in a ball of fire.

And yet, what we do not realize in this moment is that Leia has tricked Tarkin. Presented with the choice of Alderaan being destroyed OR the Rebellion being destroyed, the quick-thinking Princess chose a different route: an open-ended lie. We do not discover this right away, not until an Imperial officer informs Tarkin that scout ships discovered a deserted Rebel base on Dantooine. Furious, but more importantly humiliated, the Grand Moff orders the immediate execution of the Princess.

That Leia lies about the location of the Rebel base is brilliant, a narrative misdirect that leads Tarkin and the audience alike to THINK this strong-willed woman has caved under pressure. It is easy to forget this, as later we DO discover the real location of the Rebel base. But in this instance, we are led to believe Leia has given it up, that Dantooine is, in fact, the location. Instead, what we discover a few scenes later is that Princess Leia was in control the entire time, and while her plea to the Grand Moff that “Alderaan is peaceful” is certainly genuine, it, too, was also part of her quick thinking plan to save both Alderaan AND the Rebellion.

Awaiting Tarkin’s Fury

Knowing she has lied to Grand Moff, we can surmise that after being returned to her cell that the Princess sat and waited for Tarkin’s fury. Surely, too, she sat there in mourning, the loss of her world and family weighing heavily on her heart. One could hardly criticize the fearless female if she did break down and cry, although it is hardly necessary to know whether she did. The imagination is enough in this case.

Regardless, when we next see Leia she is reclining on the hard bench in her detention cell. Luke Skywalker, wearing stormtrooper armor, barges in to the rescue and, without missing a beat, the reclined Princess – certainly suspecting Tarkin’s fury has arrived – directs a shot of insulting sarcasm at the soldier: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”  While Vader’s comment about her resistance to the mind-probe directly points to Leia’s strong-willed personality, this shot of sarcasm – coupled with the sarcasm she throws at Tarkin earlier (see video clip) – highlights her constant disposition towards her Imperial foes. Basically, Leia is always ready to level an attack against the Empire, even if that attack is in the form of words alone.

But she is also more than happy to criticize her own allies, in this case her rescuers: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. Cornered by Imperial soldiers in the detention center, the Princess chastises the films heroic men, noting that it “Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route.” What makes this all the better is that the quick-thinking Princess – who, we should remember, was not anticipating a rescue – immediately comes up with a plan and puts it into action. Taking the blaster from Skywalker, Leia blasts open the wall across from her and demands that everyone jump into the garbage chute. Before objections can be raised, Leia is already on her way into the depths of a Death Star trash compactor.

To be perfectly honest, this has always been my favorite “Leia Moment” in A New Hope. On one hand, her action makes the film’s heroes – Luke and Han – look incredibly foolish for not actually thinking about HOW they should go about completing their rescue mission. On the other hand, and more importantly, this moment demonstrates a clear reversal in fortune for the Princess. When the film begins, and her ship falls under attack, the protocol droid C-3PO tells R2-D2, “There will be no escape for the Princess this time.” True in that moment, C-3PO is ultimately proven wrong as Leia not only escapes, but does so by taking control of her own rescue when she and her allies are quite literally backed into a corner.

Into the Garbage Chute
“Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” – Princess Leia
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

But there is an additional element of control which Leia brings to her escape: her decision to travel directly to the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. Why, if Leia knew the Millennium Falcon was being tracked, would she willingly lead the Empire to the Rebel Base, the location she resisted sharing with Vader and Tarkin? For some time, I felt this was a curious move on her part, a clear flaw in her thinking. Yet, the deeper I have considered it, the more I have realized that it is the safest choice given the stakes. With Alderaan destroyed and Obi-Wan Kenobi dead, Princess Leia is left with the only choice that makes any sense: getting the Death Star schematics stored in R2-D2 to the Rebel High Command as quickly as possible. A detour to another world, or a stop to acquire a new ship, runs the risk of Imperial capture, while traveling directly to the Rebellion ensures that the Death Star information (not to mention her own life) is protected. Besides, the sooner the schematics are delivered, the sooner the Rebellion can craft a plan of attack to destroy the planet-killing superweapon.

A Beacon of Hope

Once Leia and company arrive at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4 her role in the film becomes primarily observational. While Luke Skywalker will jump into an X-Wing to participate in the impending engagement, and Han Solo will get a reward and leave before the fight begins, Leia will stand in the Rebel Command Center watching the battle unfold on display screens. Admittedly, it is a bit odd that with the Death Star approaching and preparing to destroy the Rebel Base, Leia (along with others) choose to stand-around watching rather than evacuating. On some level, this sorta gives away what we know the inevitable outcome of the battle will be: the Rebels will win and the Death Star will be destroyed.

On another level, though, that Leia remains in the Command Center puts the final stamp of bravery on her fearless nature. With the Death Star approaching and preparing to destroy Yavin 4, it is conceivable that the Princess was asked (perhaps even ordered!) to evacuate before the battle begins, her safety and importance to the Rebellion being tantamount. Instead, by remaining, Princess Leia reveals once more that she is the very heart of the Rebel cause, a beacon of hope for the Rebel soldiers fighting the Imperial war machine. She may not be in an X-Wing or Y-Wing fighting the battle, nor giving orders as a General, but Leia’s stoic presence in the face of imminent death testifies not only to her personal resolve, but also the resolve of the Rebel Alliance.

Given her status and importance to the Rebellion, it is unsurprising that Princess Leia is the one to bestow medallions upon Luke Skywalker and Han Solo following the Battle of Yavin. With the Death Star destroyed, the two men (accompanied by Chewbacca) will march down the center of a great hall, flanked on both sides by the entire assembly of Rebels on Yavin 4. Arriving at the bottom of a staircase, the trio ascend the steps until they are standing before, albeit slightly below, the magnificently dressed Leia. This is the only point in the film in which Leia has changed clothing, and she is now without the iconic hair “buns.” Wearing a gown, with her hair in a braided updo and jewlery drapping her neck, Leia now, officially and formally, looks like a Princess. Never-the-less, while she is resplendent in her royal attire, we also know that there is far more to her than meets the eye, and that what makes Princess Leia truly regal is her considerable fearlessness and capacity for hope in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Princess
The Princess
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I’ve joined forces with some other exciting bloggers and YouTubers – Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief and Green Onion of The Green Onion Blog – for a little salute to “Fiction’s Fearless Females.” Starting on International Women’s Day and going forward over the next couple months, a different contributor will offer their take on a favorite female who harbors a fearless spirit. Click on the links below to read about the other women being profiled.

Fiction’s Fearless Females

Ellen Ripley

Captain Janeway

Amy Pond

Wonder Woman

Scarlett

Rey

An Ignoble End to the Skywalker Saga

Guest Talker: Nancy (of Graphic Novelty²)

This is not going to go the way you think.”  No truer words were said, and Luke Skywalker’s words proved to be prophetic as the movie The Last Jedi unfolded.  

I grew up on the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, with Luke being my first crush. Even as a child I was a practical lass, and the bad-boy swagger of Han Solo held no appeal to me. Instead it was humble and heroic Luke who held me enthralled.  Years went by; with the trilogy being the only Star Wars I knew until the late 1990’s when the prequels began. While the prequels have been derided for many deserved reasons, I still felt they were authentic to the Star Wars universe. George Lucas might not write good dialogue, but his vision held true, and there were many strong moments in the prequel trilogy.

When Disney bought out Lucas’s Star Wars movie rights and announced yet another trilogy with other stand alone movies planned, I was apprehensive but hopeful. The Force Awakens combined both the legacy characters and added some intriguing and strong new ones and I was thrilled with the new direction. It honored the past but looked towards the future, as did Rogue One. My first Star Wars movie review post on my blog about Rogue One  (https://graphicnovelty2.com/2016/12/22/rogue-one-movie-review/) said “if this storytelling continues, Disney will have handled the buyout of Star Wars beautifully.” It turns out I spoke too soon.

star-wars-the-last-jedi
Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

*While I assume at this stage people reading this post will have watched the movie, I do want to warn you that there are spoilers ahead.*

I headed into the movie with incredibly high hopes, but twenty minutes into my first viewing of The Last Jedi, I was whispering angry thoughts about the movie to my husband. By the end of the movie I was seething. I felt it dishonored Luke’s legacy, and I was distraught.

Soon afterwards I contacted Jeff here at The Imperial Talker and Michael at My Comic Relief to vent. Both men are huge Star Wars fans and I wanted to see if I was alone in my thoughts. While I certainly cannot speak as to their reactions to the movie, my conversations with them were enlightening, and I watched the movie a second time on their recommendation. Once all the surprises were gone, I could concentrate more on the movie as a whole and get a more nuanced view the second time.

Afterwards, I gave myself some time to mellow, but then I struggled with writing this post. I hate to be provocative and feared a backlash of other bloggers who would vehemently disagree with me. I’m typically a go with the flow person, who rarely let’s people know if I’m truly upset (except my children- they know when I’m mad). This post was going to make me push my boundaries, and I did some over-thinking before I started to write.

But here we are, so let’s get into WHY this movie affected me so negatively. There were several smaller issues such as: Leia’s use of the Force, which was visually comical, Rose’s part, which ate up time that could have been given to already established characters, Chewbacca being treated as a pet/afterthought and the Rey/Kylo scenes (don’t even get me started on the connection through time and space!). On the other hand, there were many memorable moments, one of my favorites being when Poe is schooled on long-term strategy by General Organa and Admiral Holdo. I enjoyed the overriding idea that the rebellion is for everyone and that a small spark can ignite a winning rebellion.

But that’s not what upset me the most. It was Luke, all Luke.

As Star Wars has been around since 1977, there are now several generations of fans who have come into this franchise at different times.  So you have fans like me who grew up on the original, fans such as my children who watched the Prequels as they came out in the theatres, and now a new generation who will grow up loving the newest set of characters. You can even argue, as my oldest son observed, that I am a “purist,” for although I have occasionally read some of the Expanded Universe (now called Legends) books, the movies are really my only touch stone to the Star Wars universe.

Luke in yellow
Luke Skywalker at the end of A New Hope.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

As such, I have always viewed Luke as the true hero of the movies. Whereas Anakin, Ben Kenobi and certainly the Jedi Council from the Prequels let pride, power or shame affect their judgment, Luke was pure. He came from a humble background, not knowing of his true parentage yet, and with little training was able to defeat Darth Vader and bring balance back to the Force.

This new movie gave us a nihilistic Luke, who years later, was filled with so much remorse and regret that he refused to leave his island where he had banished himself to wallow in misery. When the actor Mark Hamill, who has embodied Luke and will be forever connected to the role, tells Rian Johnson, “I think I fundamentally disagree with everything you’ve decided for me” that is telling as to how Luke’s hero arc was going to play out. Now I know there has been further clarification that MH has shared about this quote, and he supposedly stands behind RJ’s version…but, if his first thought was unhappiness, as was mine when I first watched it, then this viewpoint cannot be discredited.

Now this is where another quote can be used to explain the movie’s direction. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to,” says Kylo Ren to Rey. I understand if Star Wars is to be a viable movie franchise, it needs to grow and change. Han Solo left us in The Force Awakens, and Carrie Fisher’s death meant that Leia’s arc was going to end earlier than expected. That left Luke. He was to be the torch bearer to Rey and the new Rebels. So why did his destiny need to end so ignobly?

In this role, Luke could not cope with the crushing disappointment of Kylo’s turn towards the dark side and the guilt he felt towards letting Leia and Han down. Yes, I understand that he helped the rebellion when he sent an astral projection of himself to the planet Crait and was able to distract Kylo and send his sister and the other rebels to safety. I even understand that he used his hard won wisdom to help and wasn’t the impetuous youth who left his training with Yoda early to help Leia and Han. On one level- I get it- but I didn’t like it.

Luke & Leia
Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Luke’s and Kylo’s flashbacks to the night that Kylo destroyed the new Jedi Academy are what truly turned me against this version of Luke and led me to feel that he was dishonored in director Johnson’s interpretation. My Luke never would have considered killing his nephew. He put his lightsaber down in front of Darth Vader, and never gave up hope that his father still had a remnant of love left in him (Jeff’s post Luke Skywalker: A Farewell To Arms beautifully describes this moment). A wiser and older Luke would have tried anything to prevent Kylo from joining Supreme Leader Snoke. Killing him would not have been an option. I believe the quote “You were the Chosen One!” that Obi-wan Kenobi shouts at Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, is in fact a better one to have used to describe Luke. His entire character was crucified in this latest movie, and he deserved better.

In real life, there are times when things go to hell. Our lives do not turn out the way we envisioned. A great success can be eroded away with failures later in life, and becoming disillusioned can be a sad reality for some. Taking all that into consideration, Luke should have gone out as a battle-worn but still dignified warrior. I wanted him to have a loving goodbye to his twin (as I wrote about in this post: https://graphicnovelty2.com/2018/01/24/star-wars-comlinks-favorite-tlj-scene/ ) and for him to have been a mentor to Rey. This lack of a proper conclusion to Luke’s story arc was not a fitting end to the Skywalker saga.

20171231_170859
I laughed at this meme about Luke, Ben and Yoda, for despite my opinion about the movie, I can see other perspectives!

Guest Talker Bio: Nancy is half of the writing team for Graphic Novelty², a blog that centers around graphic novels and geek life. She is a married mom of three who loves her job as a teen librarian and is a Star Wars & Star Trek aficionado.

Haikuesday: The Truce at Bakura

Published: ’94.
The Adventure Continues.
New Saga Begins.


Endor victory!
While Rebels celebrate an
unknown foe appears.


Ancient drone dispatched.
Bakura under attack.
Empire in need.


Ambition of the
Ssi-ruuvi Imperium:
Entech and Conquer.


Aided by human
Dev Sibwarra, the Ssi-ruuk
entech detainees.


Head of Entechment,
Not a very large Ssi-ruu,
Master Firwirrung


Captured prisoners,
their life force drained into droids.
Ssi-ruuk Entechment.


How do Ssi-ruuk look?
Think dino-dragons with guns
and six feet tall…ish.


Manipulated,
Dev Sibwarra’s mind succumbs
to one called “Bluescale”


Bluescale’s Ssi-ruu name?
Sh’tk’ith…which I think is
just three syllables.


Ssi-ruuk Admiral
Ivpikkis leads his fleet in
Bakuran battle.


Led by Skywalker,
Rebels arrive as Ssi-ruuk
press attack on Imps.


Cruiser-Carrier,
Gunships and a lone Corvette.
The Rebel Task Force.


Tessa Manchisco,
Captain of Reb Carrier.
Spoiler: she dies.

Haiku Addendum:
Her death is pretty ho-hum,
plot blip at book’s end.


Class of Carrier:
Quasar-Fire bulk cruiser.
Its name: the Flurry.

Star Wars Trivia:
Quasar-Fire first appears
in this Star Wars book!

Did you know that a
Quasar-Fire is stolen
in Star Wars Rebels?

Here is another
haiku in which I say the
name Quasar-Fire.

I promise I won’t
say Quasar-Fire again.
Oh crap, I just did.


Ssi-ruuvi flagship,
Shriwirr, a huge egg-shaped ship.
Was a ’90s toy.


Ssi-ruuk in Retreat!
Empire and Alliance
win the day…for now.


Commander Thanas,
Imperial Officer.
Defects at book’s end.


Wilek Nereus
Imperial Governor
Bakura System


Gaeri Captison.
A Bakuran Senator.
Luke will crush on her.

Haiku Addendum:
Gaeri, short for Gaeriel.
Such a lovely name.


Defense Minister
Blaine Harris is also in
Force Heretic II.


A fancy dinner.
Leia and Wilek sign the
truce at Bakura.


Never tell Han odds.
Also, don’t think he will trust
any Imp allies.


On needed shore leave,
Mon Cala mistaken for
Ssi-ruuk invaders.


“Who are you,” she asks.
“I am your father, Leia.”
“Leave” is her reply.


Skywalker obsessed,
Firwirrung and Bluescale hatch
a Luke-nabbing plan.


Rebs and Empire,
Enemies work as allies.
But Nereus plots.

A Ssi-Ruuk offer:
Turn over Skywalker and
they leave Bakura.

Two birds with one stone.
Nereus accepts but lays
a Ssi-ruuvi trap.

Ingested by Luke,
Olabrian Trichoid will
hatch in his stomach.

Haiku Addendum:
the larvae hatch and nibble
towards their host’s heart.


So what of the droids?
They attempt to translate the 
Ssi-ruuvi language.


Imminent Attack!
Ssi-ruuvi forces strike while
a team hunts for Luke.


Leia arrested!
Nereus continues his
devious scheming.


Haiku Addendum:
He had cause for her arrest.
She was scheming too.


Bakuran revolt.
With Prime Minister detained,
the citizens rise.


Remember that time
C-3PO cosplayed in
stormtrooper armor?


Remember that time
Chewie shot C-3PO?
I think you know why.


Han to the rescue!
The bold General embarks
on a solo plan.


Skywalker captured!
With Sibwarra’s help, Ssi-ruuk
seize their Jedi prize.


Clever deception.
“Unconscious” Luke taken to
Ssi-ruuvi flagship.


Bakuran Assault!
Ssi-ruuk attack Imps and Rebs!
Wedge into battle!


Springing to action,
Luke fights back with help from Dev.
Two more dead Ssi-ruuk.


“Ssi-ruuk can’t use stairs,”
Sibwarra tells Skywalker.
To the power lifts!


The Flurry destroyed!
An Imperial betrayal.
The truce is broken.

In case you forgot
the Flurry is a Quasar-
Fire carrier.


Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough
The larvae chew on Luke’s lungs.
Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough

Haiku Addendum:
I won’t tell you if Luke dies.
No spoilers here.


Ssi-ruuvi retreat.
Imperial surrender.
Bakura is free!


I have to be frank:
I prefer this tale over
Shattered Empire.

Haiku Addendum:
I read it in the fourth-grade.
Impressionable.


Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

LEGO Star Wars: A Paucity of Female Minifigures

Many moons ago I published a post titled The Brick Side of the Force in which I share a snippet of my collection of Star Wars Lego sets and minifigures. As one can imagine, since publishing the piece in March 2016 I have since added a number of new sets to my collection. However, my Lego collecting has also slowed quite a bit since then for two very specific reasons. Perhaps the most obvious reason is because Lego sets are expensive and buying them, even at sale/clearance prices, adds up over time. But while money is a big reason for my Lego slow down, the other reason is the alarming reality that there is a discouraging paucity of female minifigures being created and accompanying the Star Wars sets that are released every few months.

While a number of female characters from Star Wars, human and alien alike, are certainly represented in minfigure form, The LEGO Group has otherwise not done enough to create equal representation among Star Wars minifigures. There exists an abundance of male Star Wars characters in minifigure form, but a dearth of women. As a collector of Star Wars Lego sets, but even more importantly as a man who strives to highlight and tackle the insidious ways our society and world places greater importance on men over women, I felt compelled to call attention to this issue with the hope that doing so will spark a conversation and some form of change. And, in order to shed light on this problem, it is necessary to provide numbers. It isn’t enough for me to just say “there are more male minifigures than female minifigures.” No, that just wouldn’t do. Numbers are necessary to start this conversation and highlight just how problematic this issue is, and the first set of numbers I want to share are my own.

My Collection

As of the day this post was published, my Lego Star Wars collection consists of ninety-six sets of various sizes. Out of those sets, and not counting any droids, I have a total 267 minifigures. Of those 267 minifigures, the male-to-female breakdown is as follows:

Men: 248
Women: 19

Yeah, you read that right. After buying or being gifted ninety-six Lego Star Wars sets, and out of 267 human and alien minifigures, I only have nineteen women!!! A paltry 7% of my minifigures are women and the other 93% are men!!! Allow me to break these numbers down even further…

Not including Darth Vader, I have six different versions of Anakin Skywalker in my collection but only two renditions of Padmé Amidala. I have four different versions Obi-Wan Kenobi, and two versions of Master Yoda, but two of the exact same Ahsoka Tano. And, while I am happy to have Asajj Ventress, I also have two versions of Clone Commander Gree in his Battle of Kashyyyk camouflaged armor.

I have three varieties of the Mandalorian Sabine Wren from the show Star Wars Rebels, a positive fact for sure but, then again, I also have three versions of the Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus. While my collection includes two versions of Ezra Bridger, I only have one Hera Syndulla minifigure. I have two versions of Rey from The Force Awakens, and I happily have Maz Kanata as well, but I also have five First Order stormtrooper, all with male faces if their helmets are removed. I’ve got four mini-incarnations of Han Solo, three of Luke Skywalker, two of Chewbacca, but only one Princess Leia. Heck, if I did include droids in these numbers, I have more mini-renditions of R2-D2, C-3PO, and Chopper than of Princess Leia.

Sabine and Kanan
My three Sabine Wren minifigures with my three Kanan Jarrus minifigures.

Of my thirteen Rebel pilots, only one is a female: an A-Wing pilot. This is even more absurd when one realizes that the Rebel U-Wing Fighter (set #75155), which I have in my collection, came with a male minifigure even though the solitary U-Wing pilot we see in Rogue One is a woman! Not counting Jyn Erso, of my seven Rebel soldiers, not a single one is a generic female. I have eight Mandalorians but none are women even though some Mando warriors in The Clone Wars animated series are women. And in my collection of Jedi, the only women I have are Ahsoka Tano (whom I already mentioned), Luminara Unduli, Barris Offee, Stass Allie, and Satele (a character from The Old Republic MMO). 

Before going any farther, I am going to pause and acknowledge that this reality is partially my fault. When I began collecting Star Wars Lego sets in the year 2012, it did not occur to me at the time that the more I added to my collection, the more I was creating an astonishingly male-centric battalion of minifigures. Sets have come and gone with female minifigures that I either didn’t buy or were not gifted to me, minifigures like the Jedi Shaak Ti, the bounty hunter Sugi, and the First Order Captain Phasma. But while I am partially culpable in creating this unequal representation within my own collection, there is an even greater issue at play. Specifically, The LEGO Group just doesn’t create enough minifigures based on female Star Wars characters and there is an overemphasis placed on creating multiple versions of male figures. In the past year, I have sought to only purchase sets that include female minifigures and, to say the least, it has been really tough because Lego simply does not have enough sets that come with women. 

Shopping for Lego Sets

In February 2017, Lego unveiled new Star Wars sets on store shelves in the United States and, as a collector, the male-to-female minifigure disparity was palpable. Of the fourteen sets that arrived (not counting large-scale buildable figures), only one came with a woman: Battle of Scarif (set #75171) which includes Jyn Erso wearing her Imperial Ground Crew disguise from Rogue One. Otherwise, not a single set that arrived in stores had a female Star Wars character. Adding insult to injury, the Micro-Fighter U-Wing (set #75160) came with a male minifigure even though, again, the U-Wing pilot we encounter in Rogue One is a woman. Talk about discouraging.

But wait, it gets even worse! Of the thirty-four Star Wars Lego sets that hit store shelves in 2016, there was a total of thirteen women in minifigure form. The set Assault on Hoth (set #75098) alone comes with twelve men, Toryn Farr being the lone woman in the set and 1/13 of 2016’s female minifigures.  Additionally, it is worth mentioning that of the nine large-scale buildable figures Lego introduced in 2016, three were of female characters: Rey (#75113), Captain Phasma (#75118), and Jyn Erso (#75119).

The year 2015 gave Star Wars fans thirty-five Lego sets but only nine minifigures were women. Coming with the First Order Transport (set # 75103), Captain Phasma is intimidating in her unique chrome stormtrooper armor; however, remove her helmet and one will be disappointed to discover a solid black head without any facial features. As well, six large-scale buildable figures were also introduced in 2015 but none were of female characters from the saga. 

In 2014, thirty-two sets with minifigures were available for purchase but only two of the minifigures in 2014 were women. Two!!! Plus, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the Sandcrawler (set #75059) that arrived in 2014 includes Uncle Owen but DOES NOT include Aunt Beru. In fact, this is no different than the previous version  of the Sandcrawler (the 2005 set #10144) which also included Uncle Owen but not Aunt Beru. 

Hera and Ahsoka
2014 female minifigures: Hera Syndulla (green) and Ahsoka Tano (orange). Syndulla came with The Ghost (set #75053) and Tano with Coruscant Police Gunship (set #75046).

Twenty-nine Lego Star Wars sets hit store shelves in 2013 but just six minifigures were women. Additionally, a female Jedi padawan was included with a promotional set given to journalists at the premier of The Yoda Chronicles in May 2013.

In the year I began collecting Star Wars sets, 2012, Lego sold twenty-six different sets that contained minfigures. Yet, there were only seven women scattered among all sets. For comparisons sake, the set titled Palpatine’s Arrest (set #9526) comes with six male minifigures alone.

2011 offered nineteen Lego Star Wars sets with eight female minifigures distributed among them.

Store shelves in 2010 were stocked with seventeen Lego Star Wars sets, and out of those there were three women in minifigure form. Two of those women – Aayla Secura and Ahsoka Tano – were included with the 2010 Clone Turbo Tank (set #8098). Again, in comparison, Luke Skywalker was included in four different sets in 2010. 

Eighteen Star Wars sets were sold in 2009 with a total of five female minifigures distributed among them. It is also important to note that in 2009 Lego released six limited edition Collectible Display Sets available at San Diego Comic-Con. Each Display Set came with three minifigures apiece. Two of those Collectible Sets came with a single female each: Ahsoka Tano in one and Asajj Ventress in another.

In 2008, the year The Clone Wars movie and television series debuted there were sixteen Lego sets and five minifigures that were women. Of those five female minifigures, one was Juno Eclipse, a character from The Force Unleashed, a popular video game which also debuted in 2008.

And before 2008, from 1999 when Lego first introduced Star Wars sets up to 2007, there was, so far as I can tell, ninety-seven sets sold in the United States that contained minifigures. Yet, out of those ninety-seven Star Wars sets, there were only twelve female minifigures spread among twelve different sets. Once again, by way of comparison, over that same eight year span, Han Solo was included in nine sets, Anakin Skywalker in eleven sets, Obi-Wan Kenobi in twelve sets, and Luke Skywalker in twenty sets.

Now, to arrive at these numbers, I relied on two websites, Lego.com and Brickset.com, while also falling back upon my many long hours of shopping for Lego Star Wars sets. This being said, I readily admit that I may have miscounted in some way, shape, or form as I calculated these numbers. And, if so, I am happy to fix any miscalculation. Plus, I should also mention that I kept my count strictly focused on the sets that reflect a scene or vehicle from Star Wars, and which also come with minifigures. In short, I did not consider any of minifigure key chains or magnets, or count any of the Lego Star Wars books/video games that may come with minifigures. Nor did I include any of the polybags that only include a minifigure (none of the minifigure polybags have ever, so far as I can tell, come with a female character anyway). I did, however, include the annual Lego Star Wars Advent Calendars in my count. The first arriving in 2011, each Advent Calendar comes with a handful of minifigures; however, through 2016, not a single female minifigure has been included in any Advent Calendar.  

Clarifications being stated, it is safe to say that The LEGO Group has done an outstandingly terrible job of offering female minifigures in Lego sets. With Star Wars popularity growing by leaps and bounds thanks to Disney’s 2012 takeover of the franchise, Lego stands to profit even more in the years ahead from the sale of Star Wars sets. Yet, the utter lack of female representation in the form of minifigures, dating back to 1999 when Star Wars sets were first offered, is an egregious reality that absolutely needs to change going forward. While Lego has certainly offered a handful of more women in the past couple of years, the lack of women should stunt any applause The Lego Group deserves. Even more must be done to fix this gender imbalance, and as a fan of Star Wars and of Lego, I am prepared to stop purchasing Lego Star Wars sets and spend my money elsewhere if the imbalance is not adequately corrected.

Fixing the Problem: Part I

So what could be done to rectify the gender disparity? Well, for starters, The LEGO Group should stop thinking about the Lego Star Wars brand being made solely for young and growing boys. In a response to my inquiry about the imbalance of male-to-female minifigures in their Star Wars sets, a customer service agent with Lego replied by stating:

Our research and experience shows that girls and boys experiment with their gender identity while they play, and they often tend to express themselves differently. Statistically, play themes like LEGO® Star Wars™ have more fans among boys and LEGO Friends is more popular with girls. Based on this research, we tailor our advertisements to a target audience of builders, which is reflected in the resulting print or media campaign.

I certainly do not deny that boys and girls express themselves differently when they play with Lego sets, or any toys for that matter. Nor can I speak to the research that The LEGO Group conducts in their product testing as I am not privy to the way their research unfolds, or the data they collect. But I can say this: the notion that “play themes like LEGO® Star Wars™ have more fans among boys” might be verified by research but it is not in any way a reason to exclude minifigures that reflect the multitude of human and alien women in Star Wars. It might be more boys gravitate to Lego Star Wars than girls, but if that is so then Lego should be doing even more, not less, to incorporate female characters in Star Wars sets so that young boys, as they play, can be empowered by, and grow in respect for, the women in their every-day lives. 

And so, the importance of fixing this issue is greater than just ensuring that I, as an adult collector, have more women among my minifigures. No, this issue is truly about values, about the way we teach children, and particularly young boys, to respect and admire women. As well, it is also about showing young girls who enjoy Lego Star Wars that the women they encounter in the saga – all women, not just Princess Leia, Jyn Erso, or Rey – have value and are critical components of the galaxy far, far away. Through the power of play, The Lego Group has the capacity to help boys and girls alike be positively impacted by female Star Wars characters, not at the expense of male characters, but in tandem with them. And, it is my hope, that The LEGO Group considers, and enacts, new ways to incorporate Star Wars women into their popular toy sets.

Fixing the Problem: Part II

So, what are some ways and steps that The Lego Group could start taking to close the gender gap among Star Wars minifigures? One very small but incredibly important step is when a set is created which reflects a scene/vehicle in Star Wars, female characters should never be replaced by a man. That both U-Wings come with a male pilot who replaces the female pilot from Rogue One is not only disappointing, it’s just pathetic. Either someone at Lego didn’t do their homework, not realizing the pilot in the film was a woman, or a conscious decision was made to replace her with a man. Regardless as to how it happened, it shouldn’t have happened, period.

Lego Soldiers
In Battlefront, the Rodian (green) and Duros (blue) are playable characters, both of which are male. The female alien one can play as is a Twi’lek.

While honoring female characters by not replacing them with men, The LEGO Group can also include more women by identifying when/where female characters show up throughout the series and, in turn, ensuring that they are included with sets. Assault on Hoth could have very easily included Princess Leia in her Hoth outfit, and Aunt Beru should have accompanied Uncle Owen with the Lego Sandcrawler(s). Or, consider the two smaller sets that reflect the popular Battlefront video game: Rebel Alliance Battle Pack (set #75133) and Galactic Empire Battle Pack (set #75134). In Battlefront, one can play as a male OR female character, changing at random whenever one chooses. This being the case, there was absolutely no reason for female soldiers to be excluded from either battle pack. A female trooper could have easily replaced one of the four Rebel soldiers, while the Imperial technician in the Empire pack could have been a woman. When Battlefront II arrives, and if Lego plans on creating new Battle Packs or sets based on the upcoming game, I hope that the Imperial protagonist of the game not only receives her own figure, but that more women are included as minifigures as well to honor the games gender diversity. 

Seventh-Sister
The Seventh-Sister.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Rebels Season 2, Episode 5: “Always Two There Are”

My hope is also that Lego not only finds ways to include more generic females in sets – pilots, soldiers, cantina patrons, etc. – but that they additionally create minifigures based on female characters who appear in the two popular animated series. While Duchess Satine of Mandalore and Mother Talzin were, at times, critical to the plot of The Clone Wars animated series, neither have ever been given minifigure treatment. Nor has Bo-Katan, the female Mandalorian warrior who was part of the Death Watch terrorist group, although Pre Vizsla, leader of the Death Watch, has been rendered in minifigure form. Additionally, Jedi Master Adi Gallia, a member of the Jedi High Council, and Jedi Librarian Jocasta Nu, are great female characters from The Clone Wars who could become minifigures. As for the show Star Wars Rebels, while the Imperial Inquistor known as the Fifth Brother is included in Captain Rex’s AT-TE (set #75157), his popular counterpart, the Seventh Sister, is nowhere to be found. Likewise, while the popular Grand Admiral Thrawn accompanies The Phantom (set #75170), Governor Arindha Pryce, who appears in Rebels Season Three, has yet to become a minifigure but would be perfect addition in a set based on the show.

The designers at Lego could easily create minifigures for Duchess Satine, Mother Talzin, Bo-Katan, Adi Gallia, Jocasta Nu, the Seventh Sister, and Governor Arindha Pryce, including them with sets that reflect their canonical endeavors. In turn, as Mother Talzin is the leader of the Nightsisters, it would be equally appropriate for a Nightsister Battle Pack to be sold that contains a handful of the Dathomiri witches. It would also be appropriate for The LEGO Group to branch out into other mediums of Star Wars storytelling, such as novels and comics, to create more female minifigures. Women such as Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, Norra Wexley, Everi Chalis, the Jedi Depa Billapa, Dr. Aphra, Sana Starros, Ciena Ree, Evaan Verlaine, and the Zabrak Jas Emari, and many more could be rendered as minifigures to be sold individually in polybags or with new sets based on these other storytelling mediums.

AuntBeru
Aunt Beru deserves a Lego Minifigure
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Of course, the foundation of Star Wars are the array of movies that fans of all ages have grown to love, and while the franchise needs to continue to do a better job of promoting female characters on screen, The Lego Group should never-the-less continue to find ways to incorporate women from the movies in sets and polybags far more often. Main characters like Princess Leia, Padme Amidala, Rey, and Jyn Erso will undoubtedly continue to given minifigure treatment, although my hope is they will appear with more frequency. Yet, I also want to see other women from the films, supporting and/or minor characters being given minifigure treatment more often or for the first time. Mon Mothma, Captain Phasma, Maz Kanata, Shmi Skywalker, Bazine Netal, Sy Snootles, Jessika Pava, and, of course, Aunt Beru are just a handful of female characters who could be included in Lego sets that reflect the canon of Star Wars films.

Finally, in wanting The Lego Group to create more minifigures based on the human and alien women in Star Wars, I also want more Star Wars stories to incorporate women in leading, secondary, and background roles. Certainly, the franchise has done a good job at this in a number of ways, but more work still needs to be done. As a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I will continue to advocate for women to shine within the Star Wars canon, something that all Star Wars fans should demand. At the same time, as an avid consumer of Lego Star Wars, I will continue to advocate for Star Wars women to be given greater treatment as minifigures. 


If you are passionate about this topic, and wish to see more female Star Wars characters turned into Lego minifigures, then follow the link below and contact The Lego Group.

Lego Customer Service

 

Heir to a Criminal Empire

When I saw The Clone Wars movie for the first time, I was profoundly struck by the fact that Jabba the Hutt had a child – Rotta the Huttlet. This unexpected fact immediately added a whole new dimension to the notorious crime lord. No longer was he just the King of the Star Wars underworld, driven only by the desire for profit, power, and prestige. Instead, he was also tender and caring, a parent who loved his Huttlet and would stop at nothing to protect his “pedunkee mufkin” (punky muffin).

When Rotta is kidnapped at the film’s outset, Jabba sends bounty hunters to track down his child and the culprits. When the heads of the bounty hunters are returned without their bodies, a desperate Jabba turns to the Republic/Jedi and Separatists/Count Dooku for help. For Jabba, the return of his son is far more important than the perception of weakness asking for help might create. In turn, one of the most truly genuine expressions of affection in all of Star Wars – at least in my opinion – comes when Rotta is returned to his father. I am always moved by the scene, overcome by Jabba’s voice, his expression, his sheer joy and obvious relief when he sees that his  “mufkin” is safe. You can FOLLOW THIS LINK to watch the scene for yourself, and while you might not have the same experience I have, I think you will at least see understand what I am saying about Jabba’s joy and relief. Plus, Rotta is also clearly relieved when he is back in his father’s arms, a happy child with his equally happy father.

Returned
Rotta the Huttlet is returned to his father, Jabba the Hutt.

Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

So what has become of the adorable Huttlet from the The Clone Wars movie? Well, I have no idea. Since his introduction in the film, Rotta has been an otherwise invisible character in Star Wars. After I saw the movie, I was certain that Rotta would be making a number of appearances throughout the Star Wars canon, that his character would be expanded. Instead, Rotta appears in just one episode of The Clone Wars  (“Sphere of Influence”), he received an indirect mention in the episode “Hunt for Ziro,” and has a couple of mentions in a handful of Star Wars reference books. And that is it. I keep expecting him to show up somewhere else in the canon, but as time goes on, my optimism that he will reappear has started to wane.

And this really REALLY bothers me. Rotta is the heir to Jabba’s criminal empire for crying out loud!!! HOW IS THAT NOT A BIGGER DEAL!?!?! Unless Rotta died before the events of Return of the Jedi, the young Hutt HAS to factor into the Star Wars universe again. Period. End of story.

As it stands right now in the post-Return of the Jedi universe, the death of Jabba not only created a power vacuum in the criminal underworld, but it threw the Hutts into chaos. In the novel Aftermath, for example, we learn that although Jabba has been dead for months, the Hutt Council had not yet determined his successor. Given this small fact, it would hardly be surprising if the reason Jabba’s replacement had not been determined was because the most dominant and influential Hutts were fighting among themselves, concerned only for their individual self-interests. The thing is, Jabba already has a successor who can take his place on the Council, which leads me to wonder if the Hutts had not yet “chosen” a successor because they didn’t want to give Rotta the seat. With Jabba dead, it is likely that other Hutts wanted to deny Rotta the power his father had, and keeping him from the Council is one way to do this. Moreover, with the godfather dead, and his son still young, many Hutts would assuredly try to move quickly to assimilate Jabba’s holdings into their own. Again, a way of denying Rotta his rightful power/wealth while bolstering their own.

Of course, I cannot say with certainty how the Hutts have acted after Jabba’s death because there is such little in the canon to work from. Regardless, my point is ultimately that in the wake of Jabba’s demise, no matter what  the situation really looks like, Rotta should be  the one to step up and take over his father’s legacy. Honestly, think about the potential Rotta offers the post-Return of the Jedi canon. His father dead and the Hutt Clan in chaos, the young Hutt – just a teen in Hutt years – could begin his own rise to power in the underworld, ruthlessly reorganizing the entire Clan. You heard me: ruthless. This wouldn’t be the cute and adorable Huttlet we meet in The Clone Wars movie. Oh no, this would be a Hutt who had started learning the tricks of his father’s trade, who was being groomed to eventually take over the family business – and the family business is deadly. That said, I am picturing a scenario where Rotta orders the execution of the remaining members of the Hutt Council, a way of showing all other Hutts that he is in charge and that you do not cross him. How intensely cool would that be!?!?!

But rebuilding his father’s empire and becoming the top Hutt isn’t the ONLY story worth telling about Rotta. No, there is another layer to this story, a deeper one that could help drive Rotta’s ruthless nature – a desire for revenge, a desire to kill the one called “Huttslayer.” I am referring, of course, to Leia, the term “Huttslayer” being given to her by members of the Nikto species in the novel Bloodline. Since we learn in the novel that a recording of Leia killing Jabba exists, and that the Hutts are in possession of all but one copy, there is every reason to believe that Rotta would have eventually watched the video. In turn, it is hardly far-fetched to imagine a scenario where Rotta seeks to bring Leia to justice – “Hutt justice” – and make her suffer for killing his father. In fact, while I know a lot of people will undoubtedly disagree with this, I am even open to Rotta getting what he wants – the death of the “Huttslayer.” Will that story actually happen? No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean I am closing the door on the idea. Good storytelling needs unpredictable and difficult moments, situations so gut-wrenching that you are not only repulsed but you can’t stop yourself from wanting to know what happens next. To me, that is what Rotta killing Leia would do, it would punch us in the gut, totally changing the trajectory of the Star Wars universe, but we wouldn’t be able to turn away because we would HAVE to know what happens afterwards. 

Leia_Choking_Jabba_2
Leia becomes the “Huttslayer,” killer of Jabba.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

In fairness, I am not saying a story involving Rotta going after Leia would HAVE to end this way. Hell, maybe following the events that will transpire in Episode IX, Rotta seeks justice in a Republic court, bringing Leia to trial for killing his father. The possible outcomes are limitless! Still, my point is ultimately that a story involving Rotta and Leia SHOULD happen, if only as a way to get Rotta back into the Star Wars canon. Then again, Rotta should already be a bigger factor in the canon. Frankly, Rotta’s absence isn’t just confusing, to me it is outright pathetic, a clear sign that after he was invented as a plot device in The Clone Wars movie, no one really knew what to do with him. Well, I know what to do with him. Disney/Lucasfilm can just give me a call and I will get Jabba’s “pedunkee mufkin” back into the fold, following in his father’s footsteps as the King of the Star Wars underworld. 


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

The Compassion of a Jedi Master

Set more than twenty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, author Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline provides a captivating glimpse of Princess Leia – now a Senator – as she navigates the political turmoil of the New Republic. The book adds a great deal of insight into the post-Endor universe and I highly recommend that Star Wars fans read it. My  intention in this post, though, is not to provide a full-fledged review of the the novel. Instead, what I really want to do is share just a couple of thoughts I had while reading Bloodline, a couple of connections that got me excited. So, let’s get down to business…

star-wars-bloodline-cover-168539
The cover of Star Wars: Bloodline.
Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

At the outset of Bloodline, an emissary from the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth addresses the Galactic Senate, briefly explaining that his planet has historically been the target of Hutt oppression, and that this oppression was doubled under Imperial rule. Emissary  Yendor goes on to explain that with the decline in power of the Hutts, other criminal factions – most notably cartels run by the Niktos – have arisen to fill the power vacuum. In particular, he notes that a Nikto cartel run by a Kajain’sa’Nikto (red Nikto) named Rinnrivin Di possess the greatest threat to the people of Ryloth, and beseeches the Senate to investigate Rinnrivin Di’s criminal activities.

For those of you who have watched The Clone Wars animated series, and specifically the Season 3 episode “Supply Lines,” you may recall that the episode features a Kajain’sa’Nikto Jedi Master named Ima-Gun Di. Well, the moment I read the name “Rinnrivin Di,” the lights and sirens went off in my brain and I immediately wondered: are the two Nikto somehow related?

Honestly, I have no idea. It certainly could be possible, but “Di” could also just be the “Smith” of the Nikto species. Still, it sure is interesting that the two have the same surname, and it really makes me wonder if Claudia Gray or someone on the Lucasfilm Story Group had the idea of connecting Ima-Gun Di and Rinnrivin Di in their OWN bloodline.

What makes this all the more fascinating, though, is that Master Ima-Gun Di led the Republic effort to defend the planet Ryloth – and the Twi’leks – against a Separatist invasion. While Master Di’s only appearance is in “Supply Lines,” and only in a handful of scenes at that, these few moments in the episode are enough make us understand quite a lot about him. Ima-Gun Di is tactically gifted as a general, holding out against a far superior enemy and we watch as he concocts a plan to bottleneck the Separatist forces. But we also see that he is a true friend of the Twi’leks as he works tirelessly to protect them from the oncoming battle droids. This is no more apparent than when Master Di personally oversees the rear-guard action that will cost him his life, selflessly fighting and dying “for the Twi’leks” so they can “live to fight another day.”

Ima-Gun Di Image 1
Jedi Master Ima-Gun Di
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 3, Episode 3), “Supply Lines”

One Nikto with the surname “Di” fighting on behalf of the Twi’leks, another many years later causing harm to the Twi’leks. Again, it really makes one wonder if the connection between these two is intentional…

But I don’t want to belabor the connection. It is definitely worth pondering, but I have another thought to consider about Ima-Gun Di and the Twi’leks, one that relies on a little more information found in Bloodline, and elsewhere, about the Nikto species.

One piece of that information comes during  Emissary Yendor’s address to the Senate, but it comes not from the Emissary but instead from c-3PO. Turning to Leia as she listens to Yendor’s presentation, C-3PO states that “The Niktos served the Hutts for centuries. They’ve never had a truly independent government of their own. Hardly even a world of their own, really.” In fact, the first Niktos we meet in Star Wars appear in Return of the Jedi and are henchmen for Jabba the Hutt. Furthermore, we also see Nikto enforcers serving the Hutt Clan in The Clone Wars, and learn from Star Wars: Uprising that Nikto stalkers are utilized whenever Hutts feud with one another.

Nikto Stalker
A Nikto Stalker.
Photo Credit – Lucasfilm/KABAM

Now, it is certainly possible to raise some thoughts and questions about the relationship between the Niktos and the Hutts. In Bloodline, Rinnrivin Di himself tells Leia that his “people have their reasons for hating the Hutts.” But my interest here is not to speculate on what those “reasons” happen to be. Rather, for the sake of this post, I am far more curious about the relationship between the Niktos and the Twi’leks. Since the Hutts oppressed Ryloth for centuries, and the Niktos served the Hutts as henchmen, enforcers, and stalkers, it is safe to assume that the Twi’leks had many negative encounters with members of the Nikto species who were acting on behalf of the Hutts. In fact, Princess Leia strikes at very heart of this point in Bloodline when she notes that “Ryloth has never had much in the way of resources, and whatever they had was traditionally taken away from them by either the Niktos or the Hutts.”

So what the heck does all this have to do with Jedi Master Ima-Gun Di? Well, since the relationship between the Niktos and Twi’leks was tenuous at best, how then would the Twi’leks have reacted to a Nikto Jedi Master leading the defense of their homeworld? Imagine, for example, being a Twi’lek parent whose young daughter was ripped away from them by Nikto enforcers to be taken and made a slave in the palace of a Hutt. Now, imagine seeing a Nikto Jedi Master step off a Republic gunship – how would it make you feel?

You see, as I read Bloodline and thought about the possible relationship between Ima-Gun Di and Rinnrivin Di, I also found myself thinking about the possible emotions the Twi’leks may have experienced seeing, or simply knowing, that a Nikto was fighting FOR them when their planet was under threat. I can easily picture the look of shock and/or surprise on the face of some Twi’leks when they first saw Ima-Gun Di, wondering if this Kajain’sa’Nikto was really to be trusted.

Ima-Gun Di Image 3
Master Di speaks with Twi’lek freedom fighter Gobi Glie.
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 3, Episode 3), “Supply Lines”

But I’m also certain that Master Di knew that members of his species, working on behalf of the Hutts or in their own self-interest, were responsible for a great deal of Twi’lek suffering. As a Jedi Master and as a Nikto, Ima-Gun Di must have been aware of what his presence on Ryloth would mean to many Twi’leks. This is why I think it would be brilliant for a Star Wars writer like Claudia Gray to create a story – even if it is only a short story – that shows us Master Di’s arrival on Ryloth and his subsequent interactions with the Twi’leks before we meet him in The Clone Wars. This story could provide a little background on an otherwise unfamiliar Jedi Master, insight into the beginning of the Ryloth campaign, but most importantly it could show us the compassion of Master Di as he worked to heal some of the pain the Niktos had inflicted upon the Twi’leks.

Of course, this is not to suggest Master Di could single-handedly mend every wound, especially since he had a battle to fight, but perhaps his example and legacy could serve as the future for understanding and reconciliation between the Twi’leks and the Niktos.

Star Wars: Padmé

Since writing my post on The Funeral of Padmé Amidala a while back, Padmé has continued to pop into my brain from time to time. But recently, it has been more than sporadic episodes – I’ve just not been able to stop thinking about her. This hardly means I haven’t been contemplating other awesome Star Warsie things, but for some reason my brain would just loop things back to her. Admittedly, it was a bit perplexing, but don’t take that to mean I dislike thinking about Padmé because I think she totally rocks. It’s just that lately she has been taking over my brain waves more than usual and I couldn’t figure out why.

Well, I couldn’t figure out why until just the other day when I was sitting on the couch and realized that Padmé is nowhere to be found these days. Sure, she lives on vicariously through Leia (and perhaps Rey?), but otherwise, Padmé feels like a distant memory, having been relegated to the sidelines of the Star Wars universe. In fact, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I have come to realize that Padmé is getting shafted. Consider this  – as of right now, the stories of the main characters from both the Original and Prequel Trilogies are being continued with the obvious exclusion of Padmé.

What gives? Are Anakin, Obi-Wan, Leia, Han, and Luke just more interesting than Padmé? Is Padmé just unworthy of having her story continued in a meaningful way? I certainly grant that the stories of all characters must, at some point, come to an end but there is no way her story is finished, right? There is so much we don’t know about Padmé, so many questions that need to be answered! Here are a handful that come to mind:

  • How and why did she become the Queen of Naboo at such a young age?
  • As the Queen of Naboo, how did she handle the aftermath of the Trade Federation’s invasion? Did she have regrets about how she had handled the crisis, about trying and failing to keep Naboo out of a war?
  • What was her relationship like with Palpatine in the years between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones?
  • Were there other attempts on her life, similar to the one we see at the beginning of Attack of the Clones?
  • How did she and Anakin navigate their secret marriage, particularly early on in the weeks after they wed? Did she ever confide in anyone close to her (like Dormé) that she was married to Anakin?
  • Besides the adventures we see her go on in The Clone Wars, did she have any others?
  • What was her feelings/reaction to the discovery that she was pregnant? How did she explain her pregnancy to the people around her (i.e. – other Senators, her family)?
    Padme and Dorme
    Padmé sits with her handmaiden Dormé.
    Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Like I said, these are just a handful of questions that come to mind as I think about Padmé. And while I accept that not all of them will be answered, I certainly hope and anticipate that some, heck even just one, eventually will be. Which brings me to this thought:

At the very least, Padmé deserves her own Five-Part Comic Series.

While I would absolutely love to see Natalie Portman reprise her role as Padmé on the big screen, I am also realistic in knowing she most likely never will unless it is a very minor cameo. In lieu of a film, I really believe Padmé would be a great character for a comic series, even a short one. This is precisely what we saw with the Princess Leia comic, a short, five-part series that allowed us to view Leia in her element, being a leader who isn’t afraid to make decisions and put her life in danger for the greater good. I see no reason why the same couldn’t also be true of Padmé. Heck, it already is true of Padmé, as we’ve seen her time and again step up as a leader, taking charge of situations, putting her life on the line, and doing her duty for the benefit of others. A comic series would be a way to not only add a new layer to Padmé’s story, but could serve as a way to dynamically expand upon her great qualities.  

But one of the other important things about the Princess Leia comic is that while we see Leia take the mantle of leadership, we do so while also getting into her mind. This was particularly important for the series as it takes place in the days/weeks after the destruction of Alderaan and the events of A New Hope. As such, we see first hand that she is struggling with the destruction of her homeworld and family, all of which helped to motivate Leia, as the last royal of her planet, to track down and safeguard any remaining Alderaanians.

Padme2
Padmé tells Anakin that she is pregnant. I wonder what she was thinking before/during/after she told him?
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I believe the same mix of external and internal would be perfect for Padmé as well. Depending on when/where it took place, the series could serve as a way for us to enter into Padmé’s mind, to really experience her motivations, feelings, and struggles. Padmé would certainly get to shine as the story unfolds, and I hardly think the series should be a case study in the psychology of Padme Amidala, but it would be fascinating to get a more personal glimpse of her thoughts. But only a glimpse – even fictional characters should be allowed their privacy.

Lastly, as a final thought, I should mention that I think Padmé deserves to be the center of attention for a rather simple reason – there are far too many male characters dominating the Star Wars landscape. While I love that there’s an Obi-Wan & Anakin comic series, and that Poe Dameron will be the center of attention in an upcoming series, I can’t help but wonder why Princess Leia is the only female character who has received her own  comic run. Well, that could easily be changed with a step in the right direction if Padmé Amidala were given a chance to standout in a series of her own.


Check out these other posts about Padmé Amidala:

The Funeral of Padmé Amidala

The Death of Padmé Amidala

The Funeral of Padmé Amidala

Who in their right mind would spend their time thinking about Padmé Amidala’s funeral with some many other awesomely cool Star Warsie things happening???

It’s a rhetorical question — I would spend the time thinking about it.

Sure, this is probably not the most exciting or in-depth post you will ever read from me, but sometimes there are moments when something in the Star Wars universe just keeps pestering me and I can’t get it out of my head. This is one of those moments. I have been thinking about Padmé’s funeral a lot, lately, and decide I had to share the love.

PLUS, to make things even more exciting, the latest issue of the Darth Vader comic (which came out this week) has an incredibly direct reference to the funeral. In fact, it serves as one of the major plot points in the issue. All I can surmise is that this was a sign from the universe that I was supposed to write about Padmé’s funeral this week, especially since I bought the comic AFTER I had written half of this post. Crazy!

Padme's funeral procession passes through the streets of Theed. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Padme’s funeral procession passes through the streets of Theed.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Of course, before this reference in the 10th issue of Darth Vader, the only canonical reference to Padmé’s funeral was the 45ish seconds at the end of Revenge of the Sith. In the scene, Padmé’s body is transported through the streets of Theed as thousands of onlookers pay their respect. Here is a link so you can re-watch it for yourself: Funeral Procession.

Now, I could sit here and come up with something intelligent to say about the nuances of a royal funeral on Naboo, especially now that Darth Vader provides a little more insight. But I am no expert in the conduction of funerals, and I would rather not try to sound smarter than I really am. Really, the most I could say is that Padmé’s body is most likely heading from the funeral ceremony to its final resting place. Nor am I interested in over-explaining the somber feel of the scene – after all, it is a funeral procession so of course it is somber! You hardly need me to explain why all the people and aliens in the scene look so sad.

So what the heck do I want to talk about? Answer: The little girl who appears in the procession for all of two seconds.

The Little Girl

For the longest time after watching Revenge of the Sith, I was oddly fascinated with the little girl who appears in the funeral procession. Honestly, I just couldn’t figure out who she was or why she was even in the funeral procession. This also means that for the longest time I forgot I could just look up the credits of the film.

Pooja Naberrie Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Pooja Naberrie
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Long story short, she is Padmé’s niece, Pooja Naberrie, and was portrayed by Hayley Mooy. If nothing else, you just learned a fun piece of Star Wars trivia. You’re welcome!

Pooja and her older sister Ryoo (who you can also briefly but barely see in the procession), along with their mother/Padmé’s sister Sola, were originally slated to appear in Attack of the Clones. However, their scenes were cut in the final edits (you should check out the deleted scenes from the film if you get a chance). In what would have been an opportunity for audiences and Anakin alike to meet Padmé’s family, including her parents, the meeting just doesn’t happen.

Well, to be fair, we didn’t get to meet them, but perhaps Anakin did meet them at some point. I don’t know. Anyway, back to Pooja…

Like I said, I have always been fascinated by Pooja’s two-second appearance. Of course, knowing that she is Padmé’s niece gives her screen-time some justification. She is family and is mourning her aunt so what more is there to really say about her? Well, like I said, Padmé’s funeral, and Pooja’s inclusion in the procession, have been pestering me lately. For some reason, my brain just couldn’t drop it. Why is Pooja so important? What about her, besides her relationship to Padmé, makes her so damn interesting?

Oh wait, Pooja and her sister are Luke and Leia’s cousins. Wait, Luke and Leia have cousins!?! What the hell!?!? Are they all going to meet at some point!?!?!

Leia viewing the portrait of one of Naboo's former queens, Padme Amidala. Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics - Princess Leia Issue # 002

Leia viewing the portrait of one of Naboo’s former queens, Padme Amidala.
Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics – Princess Leia Issue # 002

I have no idea if, by the end of Return of the Jedi, Padmé’s parents or sister would still be alive, but it is entirely likely that Pooja and her sister would be. And here is the thing: it is only a matter of time until the story is written where Luke and Leia learn about Padmé. Heck, in the Princess Leia comic, Leia even stops to reflect on a stained glass portrait of Padmé when she travels to Naboo, having no idea who this woman actually is! Eventually the the twins are going to discover who their mother was, so why not let Pooja be the one to break the news to them?

Personally, I think this wouldn’t just be a cool way of approaching the revelation, but it would essentially build new meaning into Pooja’s very brief on-screen appearance. No longer would she just be an obscure little girl walking in a funeral procession. Instead, we would see her in a new light, knowing that this child will one day reveal the truth to Luke and Leia about who their real mother was. As her niece, Pooja could provide insight about Padmé that the twins could otherwise not gather from a non-familial source. Plus, in what would be the ultimate connection to her on-screen appearance, Pooja would be able to share details about being at the funeral, explaining that Padmé was so loved that the streets were packed with mourners, human and Gungan alike, who came to pay their respect.

Like I said, eventually Luke and Leia WILL discover who their mother was, and they will want to learn more about her, so just let Pooja have the honors. Honestly, it would be a damn shame if she just continues to be the obscure little girl who shows up for a couple seconds at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Besides, I think Pooja could end up being a very cool female character in the post-Return of the Jedi era. But I will leave that thought for another post.


Check out these other posts about Padmé Amidala:

Star Wars: Padmé

The Death of Padmé Amidala

Would Princess Leia’s “Real Mother” Please Stand Up…(Part 2)

Spoiler Alert: This piece contains information from the Princess Leia comic series.

My wife and I will take the girl. We’ve always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us.” – Bail Organa

In the first part of this two part analysis, I examined the continuity issue between Return of the Jedi, where Leia describes her mother to Luke, and Revenge of the Sith, which shows the death of Leia’s mother when Leia and her brother are only minutes old. I will spare you a full rehashing of the first piece as you can go read it yourself, but I should note that, to date, no fix has come down from the people at Lucasfilm to settle this issue. Given the new commitment to continuity and canon in the form of a Lucasfilm (Star Wars) Story Group, which oversees all aspects of continuity in the Star Wars universe, I feel it is necessary for continuity issues like this be patched up for the sake of minimizing confusion.

That being said, the question then is how can this particular continuity error be fixed? I noted a few solutions in the previous post, but also explained why these knee-jerk fixes would not adequately hold up. For this second piece, then, I want to present a possible solution that I think could work based off of how I personally interpret the scene in Return of the Jedi. Of course, I will hardly suggest that this solution will make everyone happy. Instead, I hope that by presenting it, and those of you who add to it or provide your own solutions in the comment section, will inspire the Story Group to act in the future to reconcile this confusion.

So, without further ado, here is what I propose…

Bail Organa has deceived his adopted daughter for her own safety.

I am led to believe that the woman whom Leia is describing to Luke in Return of the Jedi is a real person Leia actually knew in the flesh. To me, this makes sense given the intimacy of the scene and what Luke is asking of Leia, wanting to know something about the mother they share but whom he never knew. However, if she is describing a real person, then the question becomes who exactly is this woman she is describing? I will come back to this in a moment, but first, let’s talk Revenge of the Sith for a second.

After Luke and Leia are born, and once Padmé dies, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Bail Organa make the decision to split up the twins lest the new Emperor discover them. Ultimately, the danger the twins faced was too great to keep them together.

Baby Luke being given to Aunt Beru Photo Caption - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Baby Luke being given to Aunt Beru
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Luke was taken to Tatooine by Obi-Wan to live with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and Kenobi stays to keep a watchful but distant eye on the boy. In turn, Bail Organa agrees to adopt Leia, noting that he and his wife had considered adopting a baby girl. In one of the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith, the viewer sees Leia being presented to the Bail’s wife Breha, the Queen of Alderaan, who holds the child and then the scene ends. But it is what happens immediately after this scene ends where the lie to protect Leia is instituted.

Immediately after the scene cuts out, an unknown woman enters, walks up to Bail and Breha, and the child is handed to her. This woman is a close and loyal confidant of House Organa, and she will raise the baby for only a short time, until Leia is old enough to form an image of this woman in her mind as her “real mother.” This is precisely what Bail wants and expects to happen, that Leia will believe this woman is her mother. When Leia is still very young, a situation will arise that causes this woman to leave Leia. Perhaps, fully committed to the deception, this woman actually does die. This would line up with what Leia says to Luke. Or, perhaps the woman’s death is a ruse, and instead, the woman goes into exile, far away, into the Outer Rim or even into Wild Space, living in solitude where Leia will never find her or encounter her again. If Obi-Wan Kenobi can hide from Darth Vader, surely this woman can hide from her pretend daughter.

With the woman’s “death,” Bail and Breha Organa step back into the picture, officially adopting the young, orphaned Leia as their own. She will be raised and loved as though she were their daughter. As she grows, the memory of the other woman in will begin to fade, and she will only recall images and feelings. Leia will see herself first and foremost as an Organa, as the Crown Princess of Alderaan, the child of Bail and Breha Organa. Yet, Leia will still know that she was adopted, and that she only knew for a short time was her “real mother,” as she would have no other reason to believe otherwise. Perhaps, even Bail and Breha reinforce this from time to time, speaking about her “real mother,” describing her to the child.

But why is this even necessary, why the lie in the first place? Precisely because Leia is in danger from the moment she is born.

Darth Sidious and Darth Vader would know that Kenobi left Mustafar with Padmé. What they would not know, though, is that Kenobi, Yoda, and Bail Organa were present when Luke AND Leia are born. Recall that the Sith Lords knew Padmé was pregnant, but they did not know that Padmé was pregnant with twins.[i] After the children are born, in order to protect them, the two Jedi and the Alderaanian Senator decide how best to protect each child. What is presented at the end of Revenge of the Sith, then, is an elaborate series of deceptions in order to throw Sidious and Vader off the trail. Whereas Luke is hidden remotely on Tatooine in the Outer Rim far from Coruscant, Leia is essentially hidden in plain view on Alderaan and will become not only the Crown Princess of House Organa but Alderaan’s Senator. What I am suggesting, then, is simply one more layer to the deception, one that Bail Organa concocted as a fail-safe, one that protects Leia even from herself.

Put yourself into Bail Organa’s mind for a second as he traveled with the child back to Alderaan after Padmé’s death. Knowing that he would have to tell the child one day about her mother, Bail knew he could never tell her about Padmé Amidala. If he was to do so, and Leia slipped up and spoke about Padmé publically as her mother, the result could be devastating…Vader could find out. Yet, Bail would also know that he had to ensure no questions would be asked about the child who is suddenly in his care. Remember that Bail was present at the Jedi Temple when the Jedi Purge began, and was also a close confidant of Padmé’s in the Senate. Certainly, the new Empire would be watching him closely and may inquire about the identity of his new daughter who just happened to appear right after the late-Senator Amidala was laid to rest.

To throw them off the trail, then, Bail had to create the ruse to ensure that Leia would never speak of Padmé publicly, and to guarantee that the Empire would not discover Leia’s true origins. This was why the woman was necessary, to act as a temporary buffer against watching eyes, and as a long-term deception to ensure Leia would never be questioned about her ACTUAL mother. In short, what Leia never knew could never hurt her.

Leia viewing the portrait of one of Naboo's former queens, Padme Amidala. Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics - Princess Leia Issue # 002

Leia viewing the portrait of one of Naboo’s former queens, Padmé Amidala.
Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics – Princess Leia Issue # 002

Furthermore, in the second issue of the Princess Leia comic series, Leia arrives on the planet Naboo only days after the destruction of the First Death Star. There, in the streets of the capital city of Theed, she comes across a portrait of Queen Amidala. Viewing the mural, she is taken aback when she thinks the woman in the mural turns and looks at her, though she dismisses this and continues her journey through the city. Leia is completely unaware who this royal figure is/was, none-the-wiser that she was standing in front of a portrait of her ACTUAL mother. Then again, there is also nothing to indicate in this second issue that Leia even knows that her real mother was from the planet Naboo. Why would she? Leia believed her real mother was a beautiful and kind Alderaanian, and that she died when Leia was very young.

A Final Thought

As modern-day myth, Star Wars lends itself to different experiences and interpretations, and that is why I love it. When I watch the movies, read the books or comics, sit down to watch The Clone Wars or Rebels, and play the video games, I engage IN and WITH the myth-making. The way I experience and interpret Star Wars is meaningful to me in a way that, at times, may line up with the way others interpret it and, at other times, will be entirely my own and fundamentally different than others. So, while my experience leads me to believe Leia was discussing a real woman she was led to believe was her real mother for her safety, others might see something different. As one person noted in a comment on the previous post, perhaps Leia had a connection through the Force with her mother, and she is describing the impression of Padmé that was left there by the Force.[ii] Either way, it is a matter of how one wishes to experience and interpret the scene, and since the Story Group has not provided a definitive fix in the new and official canon, one can believe what they wish: that Leia is describing a flesh/blood woman she thought was her “real mother” OR someone she feels connected to through the Force.

One way or another, though, I hope we can all agree that it would be great to see this continuity error get a fix and, while they are at it, maybe we could also get to experience a story in which Luke and Leia finally learn more about Padmé Amidala, their real and actual mother.


[i] Remember how Vader taunts Luke on the Second Death Star: “So, you have a twin sista…your thoughts betray her, too.” This is the moment Vader realizes he has a daughter.

[ii] Go check out the comment thread from Part I. Lots of great thoughts and ideas!