“Solo” Delivers the Most Meh “Star Wars” Film Yet

Solo Picture

I went to see Solo this past weekend with my husband and in-laws, and it was…fine.

This isn’t the emotion you expect a Star Wars film to inspire. Most Star Wars geeks are either love-it-or-hate-it on every single Star Wars film ever. (For the record, I loved The Force Awakens. I found The Last Jedi harder to digest, but I think it was the better movie overall. I was extremely disappointed in Rogue One, mostly because it could have been great if it had focused more on character development. The aught-era prequels don’t count in my universe, and frankly, I think Return of the Jedi is underrated.)

So Solo was…fine. Again. I’m not sure there are any other words to describe it. Amazing how the most beloved character in the franchise could be the star of a film so unmemorable that I literally had trouble describing what it was about 10 minutes after we left the theater.

My husband–who is both a Star Wars fan and a cinephile–fell asleep in the theater.

So what was the problem? Honestly, I think there were a few things. Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Han, is all right, but he can’t even come close to matching the raw charisma of Harrison Ford. Ford is so associated with this role that it’s hard to watch the movie without comparing the two. There’s too damn much going on in this movie, and it’s too long. The way it’s structured, it could have easily been divided into two films (although maybe I shouldn’t give Disney ideas).

Also, quite frankly, the film has a Prequel Problem (TM). Why should we care about the relationship between Han and Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke)–the central catalyst for the whole film–when we already know she doesn’t show up in any other movie in the series? We already know that the younger, more idealistic Han is going to turn into older, jaded Han. We already know he’s going to meet Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tantooine and fall in love with Leia. And frankly (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS, just in case you’re really that far behind) we already know that Han’s going to die at the hands of his own son. Why should we care about Han’s past with characters who don’t matter? Qi’Ra doesn’t set Han on his collision course with destiny; Luke and Leia do.

nullBut I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the shining star of this movie: Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. He manages to both honor Billy Dee Williams’ performance and add something totally new to the character. He pivots seamlessly from the cocky Lando we know and love to a more emotional character than we’ve ever seen before. Forget Solo…if The Powers That Be don’t use their Star Wars saturation to produce a Lando Calrissian movie starring Donald Glover, that would be a crime against a galaxy far, far away.

How Should Star Wars Handle Carrie Fisher’s Death?


It’s only been three weeks since Carrie Fisher’s sudden and untimely death, but already the question has emerged: how will the Star Wars franchise handle Fisher’s death? We already know that Fisher completed filming before her death, and that she’ll have a larger role in Episode 8. But that still leaves filmmakers with a dilemma for Episode 9, the final act of the new trilogy.

A few days ago, rumors emerged that Disney was negotiating with Fisher’s estate for the rights to use her digital image, which was, not unexpectedly, met with the predictable freak-out on the internet. The next day, Disney denied the rumors.

But that still leaves Disney with a problem. If Leia was, as reported, supposed to have a significant role in Episode 9, how should the franchise handle her death?

This isn’t the first time an actor has died or left a franchise, so it’s not like there isn’t precedent. Based on how this has been handled in the past, Disney has four options.

The Dumbledore Option

Beloved British actor Richard Harris–the guy played King Arthur, FFS–played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies. But Harris died shortly before the premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Michael Gambon replaced him as Dumbledore for the remainder of the series.

Pros: To me, this is the best option. There’s no getting around the fact that Fisher is dead. But Princess Leia is an integral part of the Star Wars universe, and ending her story prematurely would be a disservice to the fans who have followed this story for 40 years. This way, Disney can say, “Yes, Carrie Fisher is dead, and we’re not going to hide that with camera tricks or digital imaging. We’re going to bring in a different actress as Princess Leia, so that we can finish telling the best story we can and honor the character that Fisher created.” Not to mention the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of roles out there for late middle-aged women. I’m sure there are many talented actresses who could bring something unique to the role.

Cons: Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing her, no matter how talented. Whoever replaces Fisher is going to have a hard time living up to that, and will likely be torn apart by critics and fans alike.

The Grand Moff Tarkin Option

Disney may have denied that they are negotiating with Fisher’s estate for the rights to her digital image, but you can’t tell me this hasn’t crossed their minds. Just last month, Disney successfully used CGI, along with a stand-in actor, to bring Peter Cushing back to play Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One. Cushing died in 1994.

Pros: This would allow Fisher to “perform” the role that she originated 40 years ago. And personally–as I wrote in my review of Rogue One last month–I thought the use of CGI to replicate Cushing was amazing! I’ve spoken to some casual fans of the series, who had no idea that Cushing was dead, and that his performance was a digital rendering.

Cons: Cushing had been dead for 22 years by the time Rogue One released, and he was never as integral to the Star Wars franchise as Fisher. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, you know that Fisher has died, and the wound is much more recent. I’ve also spoken to fans who thought that the digital rendering of Cushing was creepy and unrealistic. Based on the reaction to Cushing’s appearance, I feel like viewers will likely spend more of their time scrutinizing the digital rendering of Fisher than paying attention to the story. Then there’s also all the ethical questions raised by this technology to consider, specifically pertaining to how much control actors have over their voice and images, even after their deaths.

The George McFly Option

Crispin Glover played Marty’s awkward father George McFly in Back to the Future. But when he famously refused to return for the sequels (over disputes over money or the script, depending on who you ask), filmmakers reduced the role and used a combination of another actor and splicing in footage of Glover from previous films to conceal the absence.

Pros: With a reduced role in Episode IX, Fisher’s absence will be noted but less noticeable. Filmmakers can also use a combination of recasting, CGI effects, and archive footage to have Leia in the film to a limited degree instead of writing her out altogether. This is probably the option that will get the least backlash from fans.

Cons: It may be the safest option, but it’s also the least satisfying. Leia has been an integral part of the Star Wars universe from the beginning, so to turn her into a bit character does a disservice to both the story and the fans. This option is also not without ethical implications; Glover successfully sued over the use of his image and facial prosthetics in the Back to the Future franchise. (That said, I think Disney will be smart enough to negotiate the necessary rights with Fisher’s estate ahead of time. Which, to be honest, is going to be a necessary evil no matter how Disney resolves this.)

The Sarah Connor Option

When Linda Hamilton elected not to reprise her role as Sarah Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, filmmakers killed her character off-screen. (We’re told she died of cancer years before the film is set.)

Pros: Since Disney does have the option of negotiating with Fisher’s estate, as well as access to all of Fisher’s archive footage and the Lucasfilm digital technology, we’ve got to assume they’d be able to come up with something better for our beloved princess than offing her unceremoniously off-screen. Story-wise, Kylo Ren has already killed one of his parents; it would make sense that he might kill another. It would also be a great way for filmmakers to say, “We can’t replace Carrie Fisher. We’re not even going to try.”

Cons: Killing Leia might be a salve to Fisher fans, but I don’t know that it would serve the story. Han Solo’s death was probably the most shocking moment in the Star Wars franchise–and one could argue it’s one of the most shocking moments of film history. Wouldn’t killing Leia just dilute that?

TL;DR: All of these options SUCK, because all we really want is for Carrie Fisher to come back and finish playing the role she originated in 1977. But I hope that Disney will think long and hard about the best way to serve the story, the character, and fans of Carrie Fisher.

Rogue One: A Good Movie That Should Have Been Great


Rogue One is a good movie. But it could have been a great one.

So let’s start with the good stuff. This is the darkest of the movies in the Star Wars universe. Not necessarily the bleakest—I think that award goes to The Empire Strikes Back—but thematically and tonally, it is the darkest. The irony here is that the movie spends a lot of time talking about the necessity of hope. It is, ultimately, hopeful—but it also shows you that the cost of hope can be insurmountably large.

It feels much more like a war movie than the other films in the Star Wars universe. Yes, tragic things happen in the other films, but they’re so largely focused on the hero’s journey that they feel, by and large, like adventure movies with coming-of-age themes. In Rogue One, we’re focused more on the scope and the costs of the decades-long rebellion against the Empire—one that has lost almost all hope.

Anyone who has watched A New Hope knows how our rebels’ mission—stealing the plans for the original Death Star—is going to turn out. But still, director Gareth Edwards has managed to give us a movie that is exciting and suspenseful. He’s aided in no small part by a great cast, led by Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso.

I’m absolutely in love with the fact that they brought the long-dead Peter Cushing back as Grand Moff Tarkin. When I heard they were going to digitally insert him into the movie, I figured he’d be in the background for maybe a few seconds, but no—he’s actually got a substantial role in the story! The process of bringing Cushing back involved CGI, a stand-in, and a voice actor. Others disagree with me, but personally, I thought it looked fantastic. I would not have known that there was anything different about Grand Moff Tarkin if I didn’t realize that Cushing had been dead since 1994. (Also, I really, really hope his estate got compensated for this!)

(On a side note, I’m very excited to see where this technology goes as it improves. Could we get a screwball comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and George Clooney? This is a thing that absolutely must happen!)

As for the not-so-good…

The movies in the Star Wars universe are at their best when their focus is on characters. That’s where Rogue One fails. Story-wise, Rogue One had the potential to be better than The Force Awakens. Rogue One charts out entirely new territory in the Star Wars universe, whereas much of The Force Awakens feels—purposefully, I would argue—like a re-tread of A New Hope. But The Force Awakens introduced new characters, showed you who they were and what their motivation was, and made you care about them. By the end of the movie, I was completely invested in the fates of Rey and Finn.

But the characters in Rogue One—even Jyn herself—feel terribly underwritten. There are six—six!—leading rebels in Rogue One. Each of the characters seemed to have potential, and if Rogue One had been a television miniseries the large leading cast could have been an asset. But in 2 ½ hours of screen time, each of them kind of blends into the background. If they had halved the leading cast, and dug deeper into each of them, the movie would have worked much, much better.

And so we’re left with a movie that could have been—should have been—incredibly powerful and emotional. Instead, when I left the theater, I was like, “Okay, that happened.” Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the movie. But it’s disappointing when I think about how much better it could have been.

Wizard World Wrap-Up

I had an amazing time at Wizard World Comic Con in Las Vegas this past weekend.

I spend most of the convention at the California Coldblood Books booth, where I was signing copies of The Demon Within.

12795052_10207632807191163_4813128790918041458_o (1)

Yes, this is really me. And yes, I am really signing my book.

Yes, you heard that right.

It’s been nearly six years since I started my first draft of The Demon Within, and now it’s out in the wild—unofficially. Although official release won’t be until April 6, attendees of the conference were able to get some early, signed copies. I also have confirmation that Amazon started shipping copies earlier this week, some of which have already arrived. (Not sure about Barnes and Noble or other online sites.)

But the first copies went out into the world at Wizard World last weekend. For those of you who bought copies—thank you, and I hope you enjoy!

I was able to sign most of them, I think, but I know a few of you came to the booth while I wasn’t there. If you’d like, e-mail me (my contact info is available here) and we’ll figure out the best way to get the book signed and personalized for you.

While I was there, I got to spend time with Robert Peterson, editor extraordinaire and the author of The Odds. He had preview copies of Omegaball, a young adult futuristic sci-fi about a disabled young woman who is a superstar in the vicious sport Omegaball on the Darknet (a virtual reality), and has to decide whether she wants to live in the real world or spend the rest of her life inside the Darknet. I haven’t had a chance to read it since Bob’s latest round of revisions, but I can tell you from seeing the preview copies this weekend that it looks and sounds amazing.

I also got a chance to meet Adam Korenman for the first time, the author of When the Stars Fade, a military sci-fi novel set in outer space. He was just amazingly cool, and we got to commiserate about our respective revision processes (and troubles thereabouts). I got a signed copy of his book before I left for the weekend, which my fiancé—who was practically salivating when he heard the book description—now has stashed in the TBR pile on his nightstand.

1493362_10207633098998458_3034795754885792943_o (1)

Bob, Adam, and me during a rush at the CCB booth.

I also participated in two panels. The first, the “Spoilerific Force Awakens” panel on Saturday, was moderated by Bob; Adam, Jessica Tseang, and I were the panelists. Jessica is a comic book historian and the founder of Little Geek Girl, which targets young girls under the age of 12 and helps them pursue their “geeky” interests. This was the first time I’d met Jessica, and she was an incredibly knowledgeable, articulate panelist—not to mention incredibly friendly. It was my first panel, ever, but she immediately put me at ease.

…And then we spent 45 minutes talking about The Force Awakens. The main thing that we learned is that 45 minutes is not enough time to talk about The Force Awakens.

On Sunday, I moderated a panel called “The Women of ‘Doctor Who.’” Yes, indeed, I did go from losing my “panel virginity” one day, to moderating the next. It was…pretty friggin’ terrifying, actually. I’m good in front of an audience. I did theater and public speaking competitions, including impromptu speaking, growing up, and my day job now requires me to stand in front of an audience all the time. But I still get butterflies in my stomach at the thought of going up in front of people and not knowing what I’m going to say. I get through it. But the anticipatory jitters are still a bitch.

But I got through it, and it was an amazing experience. Adam and Jessica were panelists again. The panel also included Dr. Travis Langley, the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight and the editor of the upcoming Doctor Who Psychology: A Madman With a Box; and Dr. Janina Scarlet, a psychologist who runs Superhero Therapy, which is devoted to incorporating characters from pop culture into evidence-based therapy. Janina is also a contributor to Doctor Who Psychology.


The “Women of ‘Doctor Who'” panel (L to R): Jessica Tseang, me, Travis Langley, Janina Scarlet, Adam Korenman.


I was moderating a “Doctor Who” panel with the people who literally wrote the book on “Doctor Who.” I was seriously outclassed.

All in all, it was a great panel. I could talk about “Doctor Who” forever, and the audience was enthusiastic and had some great questions. I was surprised, and pleased, to get such a great turnout on a Sunday, which is usually the sleepiest day of conventions. Once again, 45 minutes wasn’t nearly enough time, and I feel bad that I had to rush both the panelists and the audience during the Q&A portion. Several audience members came back to speak to me at the CCB booth afterwards, which was great. (I also may have lost track of time late Sunday afternoon at Travis and Janina’s booth, with several of the attendees, having a conversations about the merits—or lack thereof—of Clara Oswald as a character. This is what happens when you put too many “Who” fans into a room together.)

It was a great conference, and I’m only sorry it’s over.

My Thoughts on “The Force Awakens”


I’ve been wanting to write some thoughts about Star Wars: The Force Awakens since I saw it back on opening night. However, I was so busy with the move and then my vacation that I never got a chance. J and I just saw the movie again in the theater, and I have a little bit of time to spare before my big New Year’s Eve plans. So I wanted to jot a few things down while I was thinking about them.



SPOILERS!!! (Really, at this point, do I have to spell it out for you?)



–The movie totally holds up upon second viewing. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, emotionally riveting, and the new characters make their mark, so much so that I find myself just as invested in the fates of Rey and Finn as the fates of Luke and Leia.

–I’ve heard a lot of criticism that The Force Awakens is too much like A New Hope, and there’s certainly a solid argument to be made about that. I don’t agree. To me, the storylines and characters were different enough that I didn’t find myself drawing parallels to A New Hope—most of the time. Plus, I figure a lot of the parallels can and will be attributed to Force-y stuff, everything comes full circle and all that. But the story of A New Hope is about fighting the Empire and blowing up the Death Star. The story of The Force Awakens is about finding Luke.

–That said, there is one place where I felt the movie suffers creatively because of over-reliance on the previous films: in the First Order’s Starkiller Base. Even the Resistance fighters act like the Starkiller Base is same shit, different day when they’re plotting their destruction of it. I can almost hear my editor’s voice in the background telling them to go back to the drawing board, to be more inventive, and to resist the impulse of automatically going with your first idea. Clearly, Bob Peterson did not work in the writers’ room for The Force Awakens.

–But—and this is a really big but here—the film also delivers an emotional punch more powerful than anything the original trilogy delivered: the death of Han Solo. I’ve heard Han’s death compared to the death of Obi-Wan in A New Hope, but there are some huge differences there. We had half a movie to get to know Obi-Wan before Vader cut him down; we’ve had almost 40 years with Han. He’s the most beloved character in a beloved franchise. His death at the hands of his and Leia’s son is devastating, as it should be. And yes, I saw it coming. I suspected it would come early in the movie, when Kylo Ren revealed Han was his father. I knew it would come when Han and Kylo Ren confronted each other on a catwalk over a gigantic, bottomless pit. I think that only made it worse, not better. Everyone saw it coming except for Han, the guy who’s always smarter and faster than everyone else in the room. He’s too blinded by the love for his son. And it kills him. And I spent the last quarter of the movie crying. Both times.

–Following that, the reaction shots of both Leia and Chewie after Han’s death are amazing. The contrast of Leia’s restrained, understated devastation with Chewie going ape-shit is great, and perfect for both of their characters. Both Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew just killed it in those scenes.

–After I saw the movie for the first time, I figured Rey was Luke’s daughter with an unknown woman, and after seeing it a second time I am even more confident with that theory. Rey looks very much like a young Natalie Portman did in The Phantom Menace, first of all. Her affinity for mechanics and her piloting gifts parallel both Anakin and Luke. Not to mention the fact that no one else we’ve seen in the series so far has had such a natural gift for the Force except the Skywalkers. Plus, Anakin and Luke’s light saber chooses Rey. And R2-D2 reactivates himself right after Rey arrives on the planet. And that little droid always does seem to know more about what’s going on than anyone else.

–My theory is that, after Kylo Ren’s betrayal, a young Rey was hidden on Jakku for her protection. I’m guessing there’s about a 10-year age difference between her and Kylo Ren, which would have made him a teenager at the time. Teenagers were always assholes, even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I’d estimate Kylo Ren to be in his early 30s now, and Rey to be in her early 20s.

–Finn. Ah, Finn. I loved Finn. I love that his story is unlike any other we’ve seen in the series so far. This is one place where the team got creative, and it worked: a Storm Trooper with a conscience. It’s great. I can’t wait to see his hero’s journey, and I can’t wait to see how he develops after he throws off the rest of his First Order conditioning and learns some other practical skills besides killing things.

–I also heard a rumor that Finn’s father would turn out to be none other than Lando Calrissian. If the powers that be are listening: PLEASE don’t do this. I would love to see Billy Dee Williams back, but one of the strengths of Finn’s story is that he is unconnected to anyone else. Plus, do you see how problematic it is to have only two prominent, living black characters in this universe, and have them both be related?

–Also on the genetics front: will they ever explain how the hell Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher’s genetic combined to create Adam Driver???

Overall, I loved the movie. Love, love, love. I can’t wait for the next one to come out in 2017.

Burning Questions About Star Wars: A List


So here’s the thing: I love the original Star Wars trilogy. Love, love, love. My fiancé and I are going to see The Force Awakens tonight, and in anticipation of that, we’ve been re-watching the movies. (Not the prequels. I wouldn’t do that to myself again.)

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a few gaps in Star Wars that didn’t matter so much to me when I was 13. Lingering questions. Unclear motivations. Illogical actions. And after months of digging into my own book to find these types of things and fix them, they bug me more than they used to.

Maybe some of these would have been answered if I’d gone back and watched the prequels again–though I did read the Wookiepedia entries on them–but to me, by and large, the prequels created more questions than they answered. It was like Lucas made the prequels without re-watching his original trilogy.

Maybe some of these are answerable. I’d love to hear thoughts. But here are my burning Star Wars questions.

  1. Why didn’t Obi-Wan or Yoda remember R2-D2 or C-3PO when they encounter the droids again in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back? Maybe there’s an easy answer to this one, like the fact that Obi-Wan and Yoda spend most of the original trilogy flat-out lying to Luke, but…
  2. Why doesn’t R2-D2 remember Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Darth Vader? C-3PO’s memory was erased at the end of Revenge of the Sith, so he gets a pass. But R2? Not so much. You think he would have mentioned to Luke while they were flying into the Death Star together, “Hey, you know that guy in the goofy mask behind you? The one that killed Obi-Wan? He’s your dad, BTW.” Guess R2’s supposed “friendship” doesn’t mean that much.
  3. If ObiWan and Yoda are trying to hide Luke and Leia from Vader, why do they hide Luke on Anakin’s home planet, with Anakin’s stepbrother, sharing Anakin’s last name? Honestly, this just seems like poor planning.
  4. If Luke and Leia are the only hope for defeating the Emperor and Darth Vader, why don’t Obi-Wan and Yoda begin training them sooner? So Obi-Wan just waits for the battle against the Empire to fall into his lap, and then takes a naïve, untrained farm boy to face off against Darth Vader—who, unbeknownst to Luke, is his father? That’s just poor planning. I mean, I know Uncle Owen would have been against it, but Obi-Wan couldn’t have managed to Jedi Mind Trick him?


    “Hey kids, did we ever tell you about that time your mom almost banged your uncle? That was hilarious!

  5. If Luke and Leia were always intended to be siblings, what was with all the flirting and kissing and making out in the first two movies? Because seriously, those would be some awkward Thanksgiving dinners…
  6. How the hell has Boba Fett developed such a cult following? Because from my perspective, all he did was capture Han Solo and get eaten by a sarlaac.
  7. Why are the Jedis so anti-sex? Because seriously, Anakin might not have turned to the Dark Side if they just let him get laid every once in a while.
  8. How the hell does Leia remember her mother? Leia implies in Return of the Jedi that she remembers her mother vaguely. But we all know that Padme died like, two seconds after Luke and Leia were born.
  9. Are we supposed to sympathize with Obi-Wan and Yoda? Because from where I’m sitting, they continually lie to and manipulate Luke to kill Vader. (See also: Dumbledore.) Earlier, Anakin turned to the Dark Side because Obi-Wan and Yoda were so damn controlling (and, again, because they wouldn’t let him get laid.)
  10. When the first Death Star was such a miserable failure, why did the Empire build another Death Star? Someone should have chimed in and said, “Maybe this whole Death Star initiative is a bad investment,” amiright?


    Or maybe it’s just the Star Wars creators who were sexist…

  11. Are the Jedis sexist? Because seriously, did everyone forget about Leia? By the time A New Hope begins, she’s already a monarch and an Imperial Senator, and she’s actively fighting the rebellion. Luke is a speeder pilot and would-be moisture farmer on a middle-of-nowheresville planet. Seems like she would be in a better position to be the Jedi savior. Yet Obi-Wan has been covertly monitoring Luke his whole life. Hmmm.
  12. How come Obi-Wan and Yoda both disappeared when they did, but Qui-Gon and Darth Vader did not? I mean, it could have been that whole “Dark Side” thing, but I thought Qui-Gon was one of the good guys?
  13. If the overarching story of the Star Wars prequels was Anakin’s descent into the Dark Side, why does The Phantom Menace focus on Anakin’s path toward the Dark Side, why does The Phantom Menace focus on a trade dispute that takes place 10 years before any of the events that lead Anakin to the Emperor’s side occur? It’s like that entire movie is one really long prologue.
  14. Why exactly does everyone hate the Empire so much? I mean, yeah, they’re kind of control freaks, but if I’m just a moisture farmer on Tantooine, it doesn’t affect me much. (Of course, I guess if blowing up Alderaan is an example of their governmental policies, then…yeah, they suck.)
  15. Why are Luke and Leia the only hope for defeating Vader and the Emperor? An entire rebellion has formed to defeat them, but it all comes down to one barely-trained Jedi–and his completely untrained sister as a backup plan? For that matter, where the hell have Obi-Wan and Yoda been for the past two decades? Like, instead of waiting around with their thumbs up their asses for Luke and Leia to grow up, why didn’t they take their immense Jedi powers and use them to aid the rebellion sooner? Just think of this, kiddos: if it hadn’t been for Obi-Wan and Yoda’s incompetence, none of this would have ever happened.




New “Star Wars” Poster–and a Rant

Disney has just unveiled the official poster for The Force Awakens.

Cue Beth geeking out.

Cue Beth geeking out.

Here’s what I’m seeing here:

OMG, EVERYONE IS BACK!!! There’s Han and Leia and Chewie and R2-D2 and C-3PO and…wait, where’s Luke?

Daisy Ridley as Rey is front and center, with John Boyega as Finn right beside her. She looks incredibly badass. Love that! She also very strongly resembles the Skywalker women, particularly Natalie Portman as Padme. Coincidence? Probably not. (Just hope she’s a stronger character than Padme. Natalie Portman deserved so much better.)

The way Kylo Ren looms over all of them…very interesting.

Is that another Death Star?

But here’s my rant: I discovered the new poster on this Yahoo article. Scroll through the comments section (which one should probably never do if one wants to keep one’s sanity), and you’ll discover comment after comment of racist, sexist garbage, basically all equating to the same thing: “How DARE they make a Star Wars movie with a female lead and a black lead!!! Damn you, PC Hollywood liberals, diversifying everything I hold dear!!!”

It burns me that in 2015 we still see and hear this garbage. Listen up: casting women and minorities in larger, more prominent roles isn’t an attempt to “PC” the movie; it’s an attempt to get with reality. And the reality is, guess what, women and minorities exist! And many of us have been dying to see representations of ourselves on screen.

I am a woman who loves science fiction and fantasy. I have also loved Star Wars for a very long time. If Rey gets to take a more prominent role in the new trilogy, even the lead, that would be AMAZING! Honestly, in the pre-Katniss era, who were the female leads of sci-fi/fantasy? Ellen Ripley, of course. Sarah Connor, maybe, although she always played second fiddle to her own son. Leia got to do some cool stuff, but she was never the lead of the movie. To make matters worse, the big thing most people remember is Leia in her slave-girl gold bikini, when she was held captive by Jabba.

Is this what comes to mind when you think of Princess Leia? Yeah, I thought so.

Is this what comes to mind when you think of Princess Leia? Yeah, I thought so.

And if John Boyega as Finn is the lead–which was my speculation upon seeing the second teaser trailer a few months ago–that’s also amazing. I recently had a conversation on Facebook about this article discussing why Hermoine Granger was cast as white in the Harry Potter films. The answer, I think, should be obvious: our media and culture assumes everyone is white unless proven otherwise. And in some cases, we take it a bit farther and assume everyone should be white unless proven otherwise.

The leading roles in the Star Wars universe have all, up until this point, been playing by white actors. So…a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…they had exactly the same racial dynamics as we do in the United States in the present (or 1977/1999)? Really? Not all heroes have to look like blond-haired, blue-eyed Luke Skywalker. Good for J.J. Abrams for figuring that out.

And you know what? I’ll cop to doing the same thing. When I read a book sometimes, I have to check myself, because I’ll assume Character X is white, and then get caught off-guard when a description tells me something else. But I realize that this is my own failing, and it’s something I try to work on.

Representation is important. It helps to eliminate the “otherness” of other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, etc. It also helps you broaden your horizons and realize that not everyone is exactly like you.

The bottom line is this: if you write off a movie, or a book, or a TV show, because the main characters don’t look like you…that’s on you.

Look, the new Star Wars movie may suck–God knows, the prequels did. But it won’t be because of the race or gender of the lead characters.

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser

I know I’m very behind on posting. I’ve been busy trying to finish up the rewrites on The Demon Within. But they’re done now, yay!!! Now I’m waiting for feedback from my editor. But we are on track for a December 2015 release.

At any rate, I promise I will write more soon…but for right now, I will leave you with this:

OMG OMG OMG OMG SQUEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! I am so fangirling out right now.

We don’t know very much about it yet, but based on the two teasers we’ve seen so far, I’m guessing John Boyega is the male lead, and Daisy Ridley is the female lead. Ridley looks a hell of a lot like a young Carrie Fisher. Could Ridley’s character be the daughter of Leia and Han Solo?

Is Boyega’s character really a Storm Trooper, or is this merely a convenient disguise?

Looks like we’re going to spend some time back on Tantooine.

Darth Vader’s burned-out mask…I got chills. And upon rewatch, I noticed the sound of Vader breathing in the background. Interesting. Also interesting how Luke uses present tense to describe his father. Hmmm.

Mark Hamill’s voice over…Hamill has aged physically since Return of the Jedi, but man, he sounds exactly the same.

“Chewie…we’re home.” AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!