ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. Twitter: @ExtraTremeerial | Email: [email protected]
Eleanor Tremeer

With Rey helming the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and Kathleen Kennedy leading Lucasfilm into a lucrative new age, the future of Star Wars is female... in everything except the actual filmmaking. So far, the current slate of Star Wars movies have been written and directed solely by men, and as gets another male writer in the form of Jack Thorne, we're left wondering just what a woman's gotta do to write a Star Wars movie round here — especially considering how many women have contributed to the success of Star Wars over the decades.

Your Favorite Star Wars Movie Was Written By A Woman

It's no secret that Hollywood has a severe white, male bias. Some franchises are taking steps to change that, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy seems to have made it her mission to populate the Star Wars galaxy with as many female leads as possible (although they are, so far, entirely white). But while there are more women leading the charge onscreen, behind the scenes the industry still suffers from institutionalized sexism, as women are shoved to editing roles while men do the majority of the writing and directing.

Marcia and George Lucas in the cutting room. [Credit: Lucasfilm]
Marcia and George Lucas in the cutting room. [Credit: Lucasfilm]

This has always been true of . Women have contributed a lot to this franchise, as the unsung heroes who helped Star Wars become a pop culture icon, starting right from the beginning.

A New Hope was a bit of a mess before George Lucas's then-wife Marcia stepped in to do the editing. Inside sources have since reported that Marcia crafted a masterpiece out of the myriad of confused footage — and she also advised Lucas during his initial scriptwriting process, urging him to kill Ben Kenobi, and adding in the sweet "kiss for luck." After their divorce, Lucas took full credit for everything Star Wars, and Marcia's contributions were only really appreciated decades later.

But Marcia wasn't the only woman who made Star Wars the phenomenon it is today. The first draft of The Empire Strikes Back was written by Leigh Brackett, and she would have penned the final draft too had she not tragically died of cancer before the film was made. Today, everyone knows that Lawrence Kasdan wrote Empire, but that's not strictly true — he may have redrafted, but all the main story beats were thought up by Brackett. She even came up with the idea for a twin sister for Luke, though in her version this was an entirely new character called Nellis. Lucas later adopted this idea and applied it to Leia instead.

And of course, who could forget Carrie Fisher's script doctoring, which transformed some of Empire's stilted and confusing scenes into its most iconic. Fisher's edits gave Empire its distinct voice, as her alterations made for more natural and teasing dialogue between Han and Leia.

Fisher's edits helped make 'Empire' everyone's favorite. [Credit: Lucasfilm]
Fisher's edits helped make 'Empire' everyone's favorite. [Credit: Lucasfilm]

Arguably, Star Wars' best movies are those that were influenced by various female editors and writers. So why have none of the new movies been written by women?

New Star Wars Movies Need Female Writers

While it's true that men can write for female protagonists, it's somewhat concerning that so far the sequel trilogy — and anthology movies — have been penned solely by men. Star Wars Episode IX will be Rey's crowning glory, as she finally triumphs over the First Order. Granted, this isn't just Rey's story (gotta give Finn some love too), but she has been positioned as the new Luke Skywalker, the budding Jedi upon which the fate of the galaxy hinges. And it would be really nice to see her final story written by a woman.

It's not like there aren't prolific female screenwriters out there. Kathryn Bigelow, director of Hurt Locker, could give Episode IX a real punch; Melissa Rosenberg, of Jessica Jones fame, would bring both heart and a sharp edge to the story; Amanda Silver is the logical choice to finish what Colin Trevorrow started, as she wrote Jurassic World; Nicole Perlman rejuvenated our love for whacky space opera with Guardians of the Galaxy, and I would love to see what she could do when given the keys to the Millennium Falcon.

Nicole Perlman on the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' set. [Credit: Marvel Studios]
Nicole Perlman on the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' set. [Credit: Marvel Studios]

This isn't just about who's the best person to tell the Star Wars story — though these women, and other female scriptwriters, would do a damn good job with the material. There is a worrying gender bias when it comes to scriptwriters in Hollywood, as men rule over the silver screen with an iron fist. The MCU, for example, has only two female writers to its 35 male writers — and Meg LeFauve hasn't even finished writing Captain Marvel yet. The only way this bias is going to shift is if franchise chiefs make a concerted effort to seek out and hire female writers, and Kathleen Kennedy is no exception to this.

With all that women have contributed to Star Wars over the years, it's about time one was given top billing on a screenplay. Men aren't the only ones who have interesting stories to tell, and it's a shame that so far Rey's tale has been driven solely by men. Here's hoping that before Star Wars' reign is over, the franchise can finally get a main female scriptwriter — oh, and a few female directors would be nice, too.

Tell us in the comments: Who would you choose to rewrite Star Wars Episode IX?

(Source: SyFy, io9)


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