ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Note - the following article is largely SPOILER-FREE, assuming you already know who's playing Captain Phasma in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens...)

Now, as a whole, the Internet isn't necessarily all that good at tackling social ills. Sure, when we all come together to fight something, we can force vast and substantive change - but for every time that happens, there are likely to be a hundred other instances of the problem that go sadly overlooked. That, after all, is the limit of armchair activism - it can only go so far.

It's reassuring, then, when the Internet's uproar can actually be seen to have made a genuine difference - especially when that difference involves the most eagerly-anticipated movie of the decade: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Specifically:

It Seems We Were All Partly Responsible for Gender-Swapping a Major Character in 'Episode VII'

Specifically, that one - Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma.

Who, as Episode VII screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan recently revealed to Vulture at a press junket, was originally set to be male:

"Everything was happening simultaneously...When the idea came up to make Phasma female, it was instantaneous: Everyone just said, ‘Yes. That’s great.’"

The reason that matters, though?

It Sounds as Though Phasma's Character Was Changed as a Direct Response to Fan Outcry

Remember how, when that first photo of the Star Wars Episode VII cast (the one just above) was released, a whole lot of us were up in arms about the apparent lack of women in the cast, despite it having been, y'know, 2014?

Well, Kasdan's comments sure make it sound as though the folks behind-the-scenes responded to that uproar, and changed the script accordingly. As he noted, the script was still in a state of flux, meaning there would certainly have been scope for the fan response to the first wave of casting to be taken on board:

"We were just casting about for all the characters...I mean, we were making them up at that moment, as costuming and everything else was happening! It’s not like there was a finished script sitting around for months."

The most intriguing part about all of that (other than a major movie studio actually listening to fan concerns about inequality and acting upon them), though?

Gwendoline Christie Didn't Know Anything About It

As in, she only found out that her part had originally been written for a man - incidentally, Devin Faraci over at BirthMoviesDeath has speculated that the part was originally being lined up for Benedict Cumberbatch - a few days ago, when Vulture's Kyle Buchanan told her all about Kasdan's revelation during an interview.

Her response, as it turns out, was pretty darned perfect. First, she expressed exactly what we were all thinking:

"I think that’s great of them, don’t you?...That there was a discussion about that, and an evolution?"

Before noting that even the costume design itself strikes a blow for the same egalitarian, representative ethos that her casting represents:

"That’s what I found interesting about the costume...It’s armor, and it’s entirely functional, and it isn’t sexualized in any way. I remember when I first saw it, I said, ‘Wow’ - not just because it looks incredible, although come on - but because I thought, this is new. I mean, in my own small bubble, this represents the way I think and the way I see things, but it’s not always the way of the world. So for that evolved thinking to be in a Star Wars movie, I think people love that! People have responded so well to that."

The best part about Kasdan's revelation, then?

Every one of us who expressed concern with the inequality expressed in that early image might just have played a part in shepherding a more modern and egalitarian Star Wars movie into the world - and who doesn't want to be a part of something like that?

What do you think, though?

via Vulture


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