Star Wars has evolved into one of the most popular franchises in the modern era. As the franchise grows it’s surprising to see that the cast is expanding its reach to include more diverse characters, in particular female leads. When thinking back at Star Wars 7, The Force Awakens, I was a bit skeptical at how successful it could be. The initial reception to the lead characters being a black male and a female was polarizing to say the least. Based off of that I figured the movie would be lucky to cross $800 million. My expectations were shattered when the movie managed to garner over $2 billion in total revenue. This time around with a female and Hispanic lead (and no familiar characters outside of Darth Vader), the film has already
make in excess of $400 million.
And this time with much less visceral negativity.
The first successful female lead of a major franchise in the Modern era would probably be Angelina Jolie in her role as Lara Croft (sorry Alien fans but I’m not going back that far). At the time Jolie was able to use her fame to bring an audience to a film project that benefited greatly from her presence. As we move further other films such as Underworld and Resident Evil would see established female leads expand their film series universe, it wasn’t until Jennifer Lawrence portrayed Katniss in The Hunger Games that a star was born because of her film portrayal and not before it. With the growth of The Hunger Games series, other films such as The Divergent Series would benefit from it as well. With the acceptance of the female lead in action / drama film series, new productions including Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and others are now able to be possible mainstream successes.
Now a female lead does not have to have an established brand to carry a franchise into the future. Talent can now be looked at with future projections of her skill, as it should be. As we continue to move into the future, don’t be surprised if other ethnicities are granted the same opportunities.