Perhaps it is in part because of the influence of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, but it looks like finally, after decades of 100 male Star Wars action figures for every one female figure for kids to play with, times may be changing. It was sad for two generations of girls–and boys–that you could quickly list all the named women characters of Star Wars, both from the original trilogy: Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma, and only a few more with the prequels: Padme, Shmi, Adi Gallia, Zam Wesell, Dorme–and Beru again–with even fewer made into toys that would allow kids to see themselves in Star Wars characters. Disney was surprisingly slow to integrate Daisy Ridley’s Rey into all the various toy lines early last year, but recent announcements indicate the franchise is trying to catch up. A new line of 11-inch format dolls from Hasbro looks to be a step in the right direction.
One of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration 2017 announcements is Disney and Lucasfilm’s Forces of Destiny, a series of animated shorts highlighting the heroism of the women of Star Wars. Although it would seem adding the women of Star Wars to each of the other toy lines in the franchise also makes sense, Forces of Destiny attempts to bridge action figures and the traditional Barbie-type 11-inch doll. The release announcing the new doll line made clear that these toys aren’t about make-up, mirrors, and dresses. “Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage or Ahsoka’s tenacity,” said Kennedy.
The toy line is also taking a cue from a successful G.I. Joe toy series, calling the toys “Adventure Dolls,” which will feature hands that can hold weapons and feet that aren’t pointed like traditional dolls (that were intended to allow for high heels). The Forces of Destiny dolls will be anchored by a web series of animated features in July, followed by an eight-part series on the Disney Channel this Fall that will include the voices of the actual Star Wars film actresses, including Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens’ Rey), Felicity Jones (Rogue One’s Jyn Erso), Tiya Sircar (Star Wars Rebels’ Sabine), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels’ Ahsoka) with narration by Lupita Nyong’o (The Force Awakens’ Maz Kanata).
Here is a preview for the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny:
Finally, with only four months to the premiere, Lucasfilm and Disney released their first official movie poster yesterday for Star Wars Episode VII. Shown above, it was painted by Drew Struzan, well-known for many film posters of the past, including his series of posters from Episodes I-VI. Having a poster by Struzan was on the checklist of required elements fans expected to see this year, along with a soundtrack by composer John Williams, the Force, and at least one character saying “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Check out our review of a recent book about Struzan here and documentary here at borg.com.
Also revealed yesterday was a cast photo of the main characters of the coming Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One. Other than a guy with a Han Solo parka, there’s not much really screaming Star Wars about the photo. In fact, it could be from a Firefly spinoff or something from any sci-fi franchise or even something from the Suicide Squad.
The stars of Star Wars: Rogue One are Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Diego Luna (Elysium, Milk), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen (Blade II). Rogue One has begun principal photography. Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is directing the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star. The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy. Wait–Death Star? Which Death Star?
Lucasfilm announced big news this week: the top level slate of creative talent behind the first film of the next Star Wars trilogy. Moving away from screenwriter Michael Arndt, Lucasfilm handed over writing duties to Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams. Kasdan had served as consultant during the pre-production phase, and they couldn’t have selected a better choice than the screenplay writer for Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Silverado (not to mention Body Heat, The Big Chill, and The Accidental Tourist) to bring his experience writing great movies to this project.
It’s a mix of young and old, with the established Kasdan working with relative newcomer J.J. Abrams, whose credits include the last two Star Trek films, along with top duties on Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, Fringe, and Lost. Yes, he’s young, but he’s no slouch.