Star Wars may be getting increasingly diverse on-screen, but behind the camera, Lucasfilm is stuck in the white, male status quo.
On top of Episode IX, a Han Solo stand-alone and two spin-off film trilogies, Star Wars is getting a live-action TV series. After an initial tease in November, Lucasfilm announced plans to move forward with a Star Wars series for Disney's upcoming streaming service, to be written and executive produced by Jon Favreau. Many fans, who were hoping this series might be the first to give a woman or person of color the creative reigns on a Star Wars project, aren't happy with the choice.
Favreau, an actor, director, and producer who helmed 2008's Iron Man, 2016's The Jungle Book, and the upcoming 2019 The Lion King, has already set foot in the galaxy far, far away as a voice actor on the 2008 animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and an unknown acting role in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story. In a statement in the Lucasfilm's press release, Favreau expressed his joy: “If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe, I wouldn’t have believed you," he said of helming the new series. "I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure."
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy fully endorsed the pick in her statement, and also seemed to anticipate the backlash. "Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe," she said. "This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base."
Fans weren't convinced, despite Kennedy dropping the d-word. (It didn't help that the Star Wars Twitter announced the news while many were celebrating the achievements of women for International Women's Day.) You didn't have to wait long for the disapproving tweets. "No, guys, it's totally cool that another white guy is running a #StarWars franchise, Kathleen Kennedy's got it all figured out," IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller wrote.
"Do better, Star Wars," wrote Black Girl Nerds TV Editor Constance Gibbs. "Let women of color be in charge of major stories in the franchise, especially because I would trust them more to hire WoC/diverse directors, writers, producers."
Many noted the irony of celebrating International Women's Day with the news.
Others called on Lucasfilm to honor Frances McDormand's suggestion in her fiery Oscar acceptance speech: Add inclusion riders to require diversity hires on Star Wars projects.
Even brands are getting in on the criticism, including Alama Drafthouse movie theater, which came under fire in September for enabling sexual harassment in the workplace.
For now, at least, fans must resign themselves to another white guy calling the galactic shots. The untitled live-action Star Wars TV series has no release date, but we're sure to hear more soon.
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