Whenever you hear of a casting for a big budget movie, one often expects to hear big ticket names, names that guarantee a solid box office opening. When J.J. Abrams announced his casting, you might as well have had your google browser opened because half of the cast were practical unknowns. And that wasn't a bad thing.
Right before Star Wars had its opening weekend, Saturday Night Live parodied unseen auditions. In it, we saw lost video tapes of Sofia Vegara, Chris Tucker, and others auditioning to be a part of the new saga. However, it was an admission by John Boyega that stood out. When he is reading the script he laughs at the prospect of an African American storm trooper, only to exasperate that the idea was true. It was comedic for sure, but it was a nod to how genius Abrams and his crew were in their casting decisions.
Often, big budget movies rely on a variety of actors to play to the tastes of audiences around the world. The bigger the name the bigger the box office return. This has often lead to misfires such as Emma stone being cast as a half Asian American in Aloha, a movie that was both incredulous and plain racist. But with Star Wars, the move by the filmmakers showed and embraced the fact we no longer live in a world that is a homogenous one size fits all. While many will argue Lando Carissian was a well needed addition to the Star Wars saga, his mannerisms and character were very one dimensional and served more as a supporting character than an actual member of the holy trinity. It can be seen as a pandering move, but the characters of this movie don't serve as a check on the list of making a pc Star Wars movie.
2015 and 1977 America are widely different but yet share the same characteristics. The character of Rey shows how much of an evolution Leia made from her first days of the buns and her eventual acceptance as a bad ass female figure. Finn's character shows that everyone has a conscious even if trained or asked to follow a differently ideology ( a powerful message that counteracts the efforts of ISIL, a powerful symbol represented in Snoke and The First Order). Even though Poe doesn't have much screen time, the nationality of the character shows you don't have to be a stereotypical white man to save the day. Even Harrison Ford's new take on Han shows how the old guard is skeptical of the new generation's talents but eventually relents that this generation has the stuff to take over the mantle.
Pushing Star Wars in this direction has attracted detractors, but their criticism is based on an ideology that is slowly dying out, or is being shown at Donald Trump's political rallies. The new cast of Star Wars has shown audience members that if you are not of the typical mold, you can save the universe and right the wrongs. It is my hope that future directors take heed of this and begin entertaining the idea that strong female and minority characters don't need to be supporting players. They can be the lead and the heroes we deserve but also need. Now if they make Poe Dameron gay, then the circle is finally complete