What? Did I just say a film with a female lead fell short? Yes, I did.
I enjoyed Rogue One a lot. It was the darkest of the Star Wars movies - but that was a good creative choice for a movie that segued straight into one called, after all, "A New Hope." For the kind of movie it was - an action-packed heist, it was good. Great visuals, as one expects from Star Wars and ILM.
There were a couple of pacing issues - the prologue was a little bit long. And it was very much battle after battle - but it was still enjoyable. The ending was inevitable, necessary, and yes, dark. But necessary.
So, what's the problem?
The problem was two fold.
1. Jyn Erso was not that interesting a character. She was actually less interesting than Leia.
2. The biggie:
Jyn Erso was the only member of the core team who was female.
Yes, we did see plenty of other women. Genevieve O'Reilly was great as Mon Mothma, and I liked Sharon Duncan-Brewster's Senator Palmo. We saw female pilots, and heard female voices during the battle scenes. (And Palmo was also black, which was nice to see). And, of course, we got nice racial diversity with Diego Luna (Mexican) as Cassian Andor, Donnie Yeng (Hong Kong Chinese) as Chirrut Imwe, Wen Jiang (Chinese) as Baze Malbus and Riz Ahmed (British Pakistani) as Bodhi Rook. In fact, Felicity Jones is the only white member of the "core team." For Jedha, where Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus was from, the casting director hired only Asian extras for the street teams, implying that Jedhan people look Chinese. Which I liked.
Which was awesome.
But she was still the only female member, and as my husband pointed out "They've just turned the token woman into the lead."
Now - I am not sure what I would have done. Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus were too awesome, and you will not tell me, even if you work for Disney, that those two were "just friends". I am fairly sure they are the first on screen same sex couple in Star Wars. I wouldn't want to mess with that.
And Cassian Andor's character would not have felt right to me as a woman as a woman.
So, where could they go? Bodhi Rook. The Imperial pilot. This would have shown women more in the Imperial hierarchy (which we do see in TFA). And having another woman on the team would have moved away from "Well, we have the woman, look, there she is. Happy, right?"
The same thing happened in TFA, so I'm wondering if this is going to be the new trend. By making the one woman the lead, they deflect criticism - but how about moving more towards gender parity in general?
Don't get me wrong, I am very happy to see a more diverse Star Wars. Very happy indeed. But they could still improve a bit.
And on a sad note: R.I.P. Carrie Fisher. (I'm actually still a tiny bit too upset to write a good obit. Not even sure why this one is hitting me so hard...)