Leia is the new Disney princess.
When it was announced Disney had bought Lucasfilm, it didn’t take long for people to realize the studio that helped popularize the characters of Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Merida and Tiana had a new royal in the Magic Kingdom: Princess Leia Organa. And despite the fact that the original Star Wars trilogy apparently only had three women living in the entire galaxy (who can forget that cool and steely Ion Controller), our panel has much higher hopes that the new trilogy can deliver on the promise of that original interstellar rabble-rouser and the stronger female roles subsequent Wars adventures have offered.
Ashley Eckstein: I hope the new movie has a really strong, awesome female character like what George Lucas did with Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars. It was shocking that Anakin Skywalker had a padawan, but it was even more shocking that she was a girl. She was the first female Jedi that was a lead in the Star Wars universe. I think they did an amazing job with her and so many of the other strong female characters in Clone Wars.
Mark A. Altman: The world has changed, thankfully. The female action hero has become a very accepted part of the genre now.
Eckstein: In a day and age where now you have The Hunger Games and characters like Katniss Everdeen and so many other strong female characters, the reason something like my company, Her Universe, even exists is that pretty much close to half of all Star Wars fans are women. I think the female fans really are yearning for a really, really strong female character.
Altman: A lot of people point to Ripley in Alien as the first strong female protagonist in a sci-fi film, but that’s doing a real disservice to Carrie Fisher in Star Wars.
Kyle Newman: She stands up to everybody.
Altman: Leia takes command immediately. She cuts Luke Skywalker down to size in the Death Star cell block, and when she says, “Get this walking carpet out of my way,” you know who’s in charge.
Chris Gossett: “You came here in that? You’re braver than I thought.”
Eckstein: We made a shirt that said, “Self-rescuing princess.” I admire Princess Leia, and I think she set the standard for all of these strong female characters, and I hope that continues.
Newman: When I woke up today, the first e-mail I saw was from a long-time friend. She and her husband live in Singapore, and they sent me a picture of their daughter all excited, dressed like Princess Leia. She hasn’t even seen the movies, and now they’re throwing her a Star Wars birthday party in Singapore. I was like, “There’s a little girl dressed as Princess Leia. She doesn’t even know the movies, but something about the character pulled her in.” She was hooked before she’d even seen the movies. It was just like, “There’s the next generation already.”