Star Wars: The Force Awakens was by far the biggest movie of last year, taking in over $2 billion worldwide, becoming just the third movie to accomplish that feat, behind Titanic and Avatar. Still, the movie wasn't without its detractors, with some fans upset that the story was much too similar to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. A new report surfaced today raises an interesting point about diversity amongst the cast, since it features no confirmed gay characters, something the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) wants to change in Star Wars: Episode VIII.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was praised by many for having a diverse trio of heroes including a strong young woman, Daisy Ridley's Rey, an African-American male, John Boyega's Finn and a Latino male, Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron. While GLAAD did praise the movie's ethnic diversity, the organization wants Disney to go even farther, by introducing gay and lesbian characters in Star Wars: Episode VIII. The report also reveals that only two studios, Disney and Paramount, featured no gay characters in any of their movies released last year. Here's an excerpt from GLAAD's new report, courtesy of Variety.
"As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film. 2015's The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written into the stories."
Last year, the Star Wars novel Lords of the Sith introduced the first ever gay character in the Star Wars canon, an Imperial official named Moff Mors, who is a lesbian. That story takes place after Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, so it isn't known if there are plans to bring Moff Mors or other LGBT characters into the Star Wars movie canon. Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams did reveal in February that future Star Wars movies will feature gay and lesbian characters, although he wouldn't offer any specifics. And Mark Hamill had this to say about Luke Skywalker possibly being gay in the Star Wars franchise.
"I just read online that JJ is very much open to that. In the old days, you would get fan mail. But now fans are writing and asking all these questions: 'I'm bullied in school ... I'm afraid to come out.' They say to me: 'Could Luke be gay?' I'd say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer. If you think Luke is gay, of course he is. You should not be ashamed of it. Judge Luke by his character, not by who he loves."
After The Force Awakens hit theaters last year, many fans theorized that Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, is a gay character. And many have been very outspoken about a possible gay relationship between Poe and Finn, played by John Boyega. No one officially associated with the sequel has com right out and confirmed Poe as being gay. Boyega has hinted that Finn is not gay, but LucasFilm and Disney may be leaving it ambigious and open to interpretation.
As for Star Wars: Episode VIII, writer-director Rian Johnson revealed last week that they have passed the halfway point of principal photography. Very little is known about the story or the new Star Wars characters that will be introduced in this movie, which is set for release on December 15, 2017. While it's certainly possible that this upcoming sequel could feature LGBT characters, we likely won't know for sure until it hits theaters next December. We'll be sure to keep you posted with more updates on the expansive Star Wars universe as soon as we have more information.