"Star Wars" is a veritable landmark in cinematic history, wrapping up its second trilogy of films under the creative direction of George Lucas in 2005 with "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." Though many fans have gripes about one movie or another, most can agree that Lucas did a remarkable job of building his "galaxy far, far away" into a believable and deeply fleshed-out universe for fans to dig their teeth into. Everything from bustling cities, the size of planets, to packed marketplaces in the desert are included, and creatures with all manner of horns, tentacles and tails are ever-present. For all of the diversity packed into the original six films, Lucas still missed one very important detail.
In the first two trilogies of "Star Wars," there are very few women and people of color who serve a purpose beyond being in love with another main character or getting kidnapped. Granted, characters like Princess Leia and Padme are timeless, but their roles are very much in support of other characters. The only notable man of color, Lando Calrissian, was really only present for one movie, and even then, his role was limited to selling out and betraying the protagonists.
When J.J. Abrams took the helm on the newest trilogy, he had already launched a successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise, yet long-time fans were still skeptical of his ability to add on to the massive universe that Lucas had crafted in a cohesive manner. Without spoiling anything, "Star Wars: Episode VII" is breaking every record a movie can break in the box office, and for good reason. The film is not perfect by any means, but it introduces many new and fresh faces to the universe and makes the audience love them almost immediately.
Abrams truly made an effort to include and represent minority and female characters in his new trilogy. Finn, played by John Boyega, an African-American actor, is a Stormtrooper and comprises half of the duo of protagonists in the new film. Along with him is Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a citizen of the desert planet Jakku. These two are immediately relatable and lovable characters, and audiences are almost universally chomping at the bit for more of them.
It is safe to say that Abrams proved himself to fans of the series with "Episode VII." However, and perhaps more importantly, he also proved that the time-honored saga can successfully incorporate female and minority characters in important roles. Finn and Rey are stellar additions to the Star Wars universe that can and will lead the trilogy in new and exciting directions.