By Kelsey D’Auben
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has become one of the most successful films in modern movie history.
It had the most successful opening weekend in history, grossing over $200 million in box office sales worldwide. This past week the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel broke yet another box office record, passing both Jurassic World and Titanic to become the second most grossing film of all time. And with this after only 19 days of being in theaters, Star Wars is also expected to pass James Cameron’s Avatar and claim the number one spot shortly.
A new trilogy means one sure thing in the Star Wars world- a new trio set to save the galaxy from the dark side.
First came Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in episodes IIV, X, and XI, then Obi Wan, Anakin, and Padame in episodes I, II, and III.
In The Force Awakens we are introduced to the new team- Rey, Finn, and Poe.
This new group of leading characters is much different than the ones before them. They are made up of a Black man, a Hispanic man, and a woman. This is a significantly more diverse cast than the saga’s previous films that had casts that were nearly all white.
Not to say that this film doesn’t have a largely white cast as well. Rey, the female lead of the film, is white and so are Leia and Han Solo, previous lead characters brought back from the original saga.
Star Wars has always been sure to include strong, kick ass, fighter women in their films.
But this time the role wasn’t of the girl who fell for the Jedi, or the princess who needed saving.
Rey isn’t either of those tropes. Rey is (spoiler alert) the young Jedi discovering her powers – a role traditionally only given to the white male characters.
This kind of representation is a crucial aspect of film and television that often is ignored, especially in big budget blockbuster movies. Nearly every other film on the most-grossing films list alongside Star Wars have all-white, mostly male casts.
Titanic, Jurassic World, and Avengers to name a few. For films that are meant to make money and sell a lot of tickets, they seem to only be marketing towards a select few.
That is one reason why Star Wars is gaining more success over it’s competitors. A wider and more diverse cast is more attractive to wider and more diverse audiences.
More people will be willing to go to the movies and spend $15 dollars on a ticket because they see there is a character there for them, someone they can watch and relate to.
This representation is even more important to younger audiences. Seeing a hero who looks like you, up on the big screen, can mean the world to a child. It gives them someone they can look up to.
Star Wars is the first in what will hopefully become a new wave of representation in television and film, opening doors for new actors and audiences of all genders and colors and creating an industry where everyone is represented and welcome.
Cover Photo Credit: DAVID HOLT/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)