The untitled Han Solo prequel film has a script from Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan, is being directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, and will star Alden Ehrenreich in the title role. I know the film has an audience, and no matter what I'll see it because it's Star Wars, but my first thought when Disney announced it was, “I'd rather see a Leia movie.”
Speaking at the National Center for Women & Information Technology recently, executive producer of Star Wars Rebels Dave Filoni got to talking about the famous character. Leia's excellent qualities have been extolled by countless fans over the years but they bear repeating, especially from Filoni who knows a little something about the franchise.
“We're in desperate need of balance in our world today. When I look at Star Wars dating back to 1977, we have one of the most probably famous female characters of all time, in all film, in Princess Leia,” he said. “A lot of people I've talked to in recent days have tried to say 'Well she's a princess that needed rescuing.' I have no idea why people think that.”
Me either, frankly. It's what makes not one but two t-shirts from Target that completely misunderstand the character so frustrating. Thankfully, while the original trilogy was ridiculously lacking when it comes to female characters, things have progressed a bit in the Star Wars universe from The Clone Wars' Ahsoka Tano to The Force Awakens' Rey. But Filoni wants to make sure we never forget just how amazing Leia was from the very start.
“If I look at Leia, you know, when we first find her, what does she do? The very first scene we see her in, she's loading the stolen plans to the Death Star into R2-D2,” he said. “That gets overlooked. That is the single most important move anybody does in that franchise. If she doesn't come up with this plan to load these data tapes into R2-D2, they're done. They lose right there. That goes right by everybody, right? And then she sacrifices herself and gets captured while R2-D2 gets to go away. She's a brilliant strategist.”
“What's the next thing she does? She only meets the most important arch-villain in the entire franchise, Darth Vader. But she talks right back to him,” Filoni continued. “He's like so overwhelmed he's like, 'You're part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor, take her away! I can't talk to her.' We know Anakin now, Anakin is smart in some ways but he's not that bright, he can't go toe-to-toe with her. He's gonna get rid of her. 'I can't talk to her.' Because she's smart, she's going to outwit him. She's very independent that way.”
Besides her strength in standing up to both Darth Vader and then Grand Moff Tarkin, Filoni also praises her standing in the universe, “She's part of the Imperial Senate. She's a senator, what is she like, 18 in that film? That's pretty revolutionary for the time, no one's doing that.”
But let's not forget when she meets Luke for the first time either.
“She's in that prison cell. Is she depressed when you see her? Is she down?” Filoni said. “Or is she someone sitting there thinking 'How am I going to get out of here. I need to figure a way out of here.' And then the door opens and here comes this knucklehead in this kind of loose armor and she's like 'Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?' She's just sitting there casually. She doesn't look like someone in prison. I've never seen a prisoner sit like that.”
Is Han a great character? Absolutely. But I'm pretty sure I can predict exactly what a movie of his younger days will reveal – a cocky kid getting into scrapes with his Wookiee pal and pissed off the entire universe as he goes. There's so much more to Leia's story we haven't seen and learning how she developed her most important attributes is exactly the kind of movie I'd pay to see.