Star Wars’ J.J. Abrams Responds To Backlash Over Female Characters

Holdo and Leia in The Last Jedi

It's been two month since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the generations of fans are still reeling from Rian Johnson's wild sequel. Johnson purposefully subverted fan expectations, and provided a capsulated story that expanded the universe and turned the franchise on its head. Because The Last Jedi took so many risks, there are plenty of purists out there who weren't too pleased with the latest installment in the Skywalker Saga. In particular, there is a certain section of the fans who seemed tiffed that there are so many major female characters in the current trilogy. And now J.J. Abrams, who will be finishing the trilogy with Episode IX, has responded to this specific type of backlash.

Star Wars is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in Star Wars. If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars. You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did [Star Wars: A New Hope] and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.

Well, that was honest. J.J. Abrams doesn't seem too concerned about Star Wars fans backlash, especially when it comes to female characters. This makes a great deal of sense, as it was Abrams who crafted the world of the new trilogy, and made the true badass hero of the trilogy Daisy Ridley's Rey.

It's true that many of Star Wars: The Last Jedi's main players were female, which was a step forward in regards to inclusion and onscreen diversity. In addition to Leia's command of The Rebellion and Rey's tutelage under Luke, Rose Tico and Vice Admiral Holdo helped to flesh out the story. Laura Dern's Holdo has one of the most powerful moments of the entire film, and it certainly seems like Kelly Marie Tran's Rose will be back for the next installment.

J.J. Abrams' comments to IndieWire also touched on his process while developing Episode IX. When asked if fan reactions and criticism are affecting the way he's approaching the trilogy's final chapter, Abrams said:

Not in the least. There's a lot that I would like to say about it, but I feel like it's a little early to be having the Episode IX conversation ... I will say that the story of Rey and Poe and Finn and Kylo Ren --- and if you look, there are three men and one woman, to those that are complaining that there are too many women in Star Wars --- their story continues in a way that I couldn't be more excited about and cannot wait for people to see.

It's clear that J.J. Abrams is super jazzed to be working on Episode IX, and completing the trilogy he began with 2015's The Force Awakens. Now we'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes down.

The next installment in the Star Wars franchise is Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25, 2018. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.