Monthly Archives: December 2016

To Honor Carrie Fisher, Here Are Some of Leia’s Greatest Moments

“Star Wars” legend Carrie Fisher has died at the age of 60.  To honor a woman that has shaped and influenced so many lives, let’s look at some of the most memorable moments of Leia Organa of Alderaan, a character she embodied to the end.

I  never saw the original Star Wars trilogy in theaters because I wasn’t born until 1984 and I wasn’t a fan when the Special Editions came out (although after seeing A New Hope on video I took my Pocahontas doll and styled her hair into two cinnamon buns). However I will never forget the time when I sat in a theater watching Revenge of the Sith and heard the audience’s gasps and “ahhs” when Padme (Natalie Portman) gave birth to twins and with dying breath, says “Luke” and “Leia”. Then the scene where Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) hands baby Leia to his wife and we see her looking up at her new parents as John Williams plays her memorable theme. Such is the magic of good filmmaking.

One of the things about Star Wars that impressed me when it first came out was the way it broke away from gender norms by having not only a woman who was brave, smart and politically savvy but male heroes who weren’t muscular, hypermasculine and callously violent. Leia reflected on the big screen what many women were fighting against in the 70s and 80s: an unequal, patrifocal society not all that different from the Galactic Empire, while Luke and Obi-Wan were a far cry from their macho, cynical, anti-hero contemporaries (i.e. The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Rocky, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, etc.). Even the much more traditionally masculine Han Solo and Lando Calrissian had to learn to soften up a bit.

I point this out because in all honesty, Leia was never my favorite character in the Original Trilogy. My favorite character was Luke Skywalker because he got the lightsaber, got to fight Darth Vader, got his own starship and the trilogy was focused on his hero’s journey. Leia, on the other hand, has no female rebel officers to converse with onscreen, the introductory scroll to TESB credits Luke as leader of the Rebel Alliance instead of her and Han is the one chosen to lead the Endor Strike Force even though she’d been with the Rebellion a lot longer and was among its top leadership.

But despite these setbacks, there are moments when Leia shines as a shero. To honor Carrie Fisher, here are 18 moments from Star Wars films, books and comics where Leia Organa, senator, princess, rebel, wife, mother and daughter proved that she was the #1 female icon of Star Wars.

1. Leia Lets Darth Vader Know Who She Is

A New Hope

For all the hemming and hawing against the prequels “focus” on politics, people forget that the original trilogy also touched on politics at times and it occurs immediately after C-3PO and R2-D2 escape from the Tantive IV. Leia, surrounded by stormtroopers tells Vader “the Imperial Senate will not sit still for this!” “I’m a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan”. Right away, she lets us know who she is. She sees herself as a senator and diplomat first and foremost. Never for once does she tell anyone that she’s a princess.

2. Leia Tells Han to Knock It Off

A New Hope

Han at this point is selfish and haughty and not making it easy for Luke and Leia. Leia has had it. “Listen! I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but from now on, you do as I say, OK?” Leia gets bonus points for demanding, “will somebody get this big, walking carpet out of my way?”

3. Leia Comforts Luke

A New Hope

Not after Obi-Wan dies but after Han walks away from the Yavin IV mission. Luke is feeling down and tells Leia about his disappointment. I love Leia’s response because it’s something we should all remember when we don’t agree with someone’s choices: “he’s got to choose his own path, no one can choose it for him.”

4. Leia Gives Orders to the Troops

The Empire Strikes Back

Another scene that shows Leia’s leadership skills is before the Battle of Hoth where she stands in the midst of a group of rebel pilots and briefs them on how to fight Vader’s troops. Notice how no one questions her experience, or her sex.

5. Leia Rescues Luke

The Empire Strikes Back

The earliest hint that Luke and Leia are twins. Defeated, crippled and desperate, Luke is hanging on for dear life (literally). He calls out for Obi-Wan, then, through the Force, reaches out for Leia. The camera pans over Leia’s blank expression when she realizes that Luke needs her. She orders Chewie and Lando to go back and rescue him.

6. Leia Kills Jabba

Return of the Jedi

You’ll notice that ROTJ has the most entries of the three movies. That’s because I believe, as character, Leia shines the most in episode 6 (she also stops wearing white all the time). After fooling everyone with her bounty hunter disguise, she’s captured by Jabba and forced into a “dancing girl” outfit as his prisoner. This famous bikini has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years as a sexist example of the male gaze. Even Fisher has admitted she didn’t like wearing it when she was filming Jedi. However she also had some choice words for a dad who criticized the outfit as a bad example for little girls:

“Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.

She’s a prisoner of a giant testicle who has a lot of saliva going on and she does not want to wear that thing and it’s ultimately that chain, which you’re now indicating is some sort of accessory to S&M, that is used to kill the giant saliva testicle. That’s asinine.”

Exactly. Part of the reason this outfit has stayed popular with female fans over the years is because they see it as a symbol of empowerment. A woman forced into a “sexual” situation she had no control over, who turns the tables on her captor and indirectly avenges another captive’s (Oola the Twi’lek) pointless death. What woman wouldn’t identify with that?

7. Leia Befriends Wicket

Return of the Jedi

Some stuck up fans would rather blast an Ewok into the stratosphere. Not our princess. She strikes up a friendship with one of them, Wicket (behind the scenes Carrie Fisher gave Wicket’s actor, Warwick Davis, cookies and chocolate milk. Yum). She goes back with him to his village and even wears a dress they made for her. Thanks to her diplomatic skills, she gets the Ewoks to help the rebels and we get two made-for-television Ewok movies, comics and a cartoon series. Take that snobby fans!

8. Leia Learns About Her Heritage

Return of the Jedi

The most poignant scene in the Original Trilogy. Luke asks Leia about their biological mother, the fact that Leia has gotten visions of Padme proves she’s Force sensitive. Then Luke tells her that Vader is his father. Shock #1. Next he tells her that he’s her brother. Shock #2. Next he tells her he’s turning himself in for the sake of the rebellion. Shock #3. Is it any wonder she collapses from grief into Han’s arms?

And speaking of Han…

9. “I Love You”, “I Know”

Return of the Jedi

Are you surprised I didn’t list that immortal exchange from TESB? Ha! I never understood why people swoon over that scene. After constant pestering from Han about her feelings, she finally admits that she loves him. But Han never tells her how he feels about her. We had to wait until the next movie. During a shootout at a shields base on Endor, Leia gets shot but is able to shoot a trooper, prompting Han to say “I love you” and Leia to respond, “I know”. I wish more his and her merchandise had this exchange instead of the other one.

10. Leia Reassures Han About Their Relationship

Return of the Jedi

Yet despite Han professing his love, he’s still not sure if Leia still loves him. He thinks she loves Luke. But unlike the Han from ANH, the new Han proves his true manhood by not slut-shaming Leia and promising that when Luke comes back, he won’t get in the way. Fortunately for him, Leia reveals that her love for Luke is familial and her love for Han is romantic.

11. Leia Reveals The New Symbol of the Rebel Alliance

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The Force Unleashed

A 2008 multimedia project that includes a video game, a comic, a novel and an action figure line, TFU bridges the gap between episodes 3 and 4 and tells the story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Galen Marek, who is assigned to hunt down any remaining jedi but instead sacrifices his life for the Rebellion. To honor his memory, Leia and Bail Organa open a sheet found in his childhood home decorated with the Marek family crest. Leia announces that this symbol will now stand for the Rebel Alliance. You’ve seen it on lots of Star Wars merchandise.

12. Leia Stands Up For a Caamasi

Star Wars Tales #15: First Impressions

An anti-speciesist story. Leia is visiting Coruscant for the first time with her father and observes a Caamasi get arrested for buying a drink. She loudly protests this injustice to no avail and nearly gets arrested herself. She tells Bail that she will complain about the matter to Palpatine but doesn’t out of (justifiable) fear. Bail teaches her that sometimes change has to happen subtly. He then reveals that he’s arranged a release for the Caamasi and that Leia can go to meet him. His name is Eg’ros Akala.

13. Leia Rebuffs Xizor

xizor_and_leia

Shadows of the Empire

Falleen prince, leader of Black Sun and really gets around thanks to his pheromones. He likes to seduce a female (of any species), bed her and then dispose of her when he gets bored. So it should come as no surprise that between plotting against Vader and plotting against Skywalker, Xizor becomes infatuated with Leia. He nearly succeeds in seducing her but she knees him in the groin.

Xizor: You’re refusing me?

Leia: You got that right.

14. Trioculus “Woos” Leia

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Zorba the Hutt’s Revenge

Another lousy suitor, another lousy prince. Except this one thinks he’s the son of Palpatine and wants to be his successor. Since every king needs a queen, he believes Leia is the pick of the litter. After capturing her, he professes his love for her and proposes. She responds with a slap.

15. “I Would Be Pleased If You Would Join Me”

Sean Cooke, artist who’s done a few Star Wars covers for Dark Horse

I once came across this hard to find picture online and posted it on my Tumblog. I will never forget the way it captures a tender moment between an icon of evil and an innocent little girl. I’ll let the caption speak for itself:

She pulled the comb out of her hair and tucked it in her sash, then went to watch the rest of the sunset from the Great Hall, through the arch.

Lord Vader was already there, standing at the center of the door, a black mountain against the vivid red of the sky. He was aware of her presence, though she wasn’t sure how, or how she knew it.

Well, she wasn’t going to miss the sunset just because he was in her favorite spot. She wasn’t afraid of Lord Vader and it wasn’t bravado, like Father thought.

“Good evening, Your Highness,” he said, “I would be pleased if you would join me.”

You can view the picture here.

16. Prince Isolder Wants to Marry Leia

The Courtship of Princess Leia

Another romantic rival for Han but this time, he’s a good guy. Set four years after ROTJ, Leia, wanting to add more star systems to the fledgling New Republic, opens talks with the Hapes Consortium. However there’s a catch: the Queen Mother wants Leia to marry her son, the dashing Prince Isolder. At a royal dinner Han asks Isolder why would the Queen want Leia for a daughter-in-law when she has no planet or royal house to hail from. Prince Isolder shocks everyone in the room: marrying Leia was his idea. Why? Because he was so impressed with her diplomatic skills.

17. Girls’ Night Out

Vector Prime

The first novel in The New Jedi Order series. Leia is riding in a starship with her daughter Jaina and sister-in-law Mara Jade. Jaina is training under Mara and at first she’s a little jealous of their rapport but also realizes that her sixteen year old daughter is becoming a young woman. She later confesses her feelings to Mara, who in turn confesses her yearning for a child. It’s heartwarming to see some female bonding in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

18. Leia Trains With Yoda

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back

What if Luke Skywalker never survived that blizzard on Hoth? With dying breath, Luke tells Han about Yoda and Dagobah. Han relays the message to Leia, who decides to visit this “Yoda” character – and ends up training as a jedi instead.

I will conclude this tribute with a quote from Tricia Barr who wrote a recent article about the Alderaanian princess in Star Wars Insider issue 144:

“Princess Leia has never quite been embraced by the feminist movement in the same way Wonder Woman has, perhaps because of the perception that Star Wars was a boys’ franchise rather than a pro-feminism vehicle.”

Ah, but how many little girls became avowed feminists after viewing Star Wars for the first time? The intergalactic saga definitely made me a feminist and I believe that George Lucas, in his own way, has contributed to women’s rights as much as William Moulton Marston has. And Lucas could never have done it without the wit and talent of Carrie Frances Fisher.

Goodbye and God bless, Ms. Fisher (and you too Ms. Reynolds). And May the Force Be With You.

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Now, it’s your turn. What Leia Organa, Carrie Fisher or Debbie Reynolds memories would you like to share? Sound off in the comments!

 

 

 

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Dear Hollywood, Drop ‘Alien 5’ And Adapt ‘Alien Isolation’ Instead

dontrun

To the Head of 20th Century Fox,

Request of Current Procedure: produce film adaptation of 2014 horror-survival video game Alien: Isolation, all other Alien franchise projects secondary, current film in production: Alien 5, expendable.

Submitted for your approval: Alien: Isolation takes place 15 years after the events of your 1979 classic where Ripley’s resourceful daughter, Amanda, travels to the exact place where her mother disappeared and boards a space station that has in it’s possession a recorded message Ripley made for her daughter. Unfortunately, Amanda discovers that a majority of the station’s inhabitants are dead, its survivors are territorial, its androids are running amok and a big, scary xenomorph is lurking in the shadows, looking for its next victim. The object of the game is explained best by Wikipedia:

To advance through the game, the player must explore a space station and complete numerous objectives while avoiding, outsmarting and defeating enemies like human occupants or hostile androids. Objectives range from activating computers to collecting certain items or reaching a specific area in the game. The player has the ability to run, climb ladders, and sneak into vents. The player can also crouch and hide behind objects to break the line of sight with enemies, and covertly peek over or lean around to gain view. The player has also the ability to go under nearby tables or inside lockers to hide from enemies.

The alien creature cannot be defeated, requiring the player to use stealth tactics in order to survive. Along the way, the player can use both a flashlight and a motion tracker to detect the alien’s movements. However, using any of these increases the chance of the alien finding the player. For example, if the alien is moving and close enough, the tracker’s sound will attract the alien, forcing the player to wisely use the tracker and remove it as soon as it detects motion. The motion tracker cannot detect enemies when they are not moving and cannot determine whether the alien creature is up in the ducts or on the ground level.

If this explanation of the game’s objective doesn’t interest and/or confuses you, I suggest you pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and watch the game movie here.

Are you done? Good. Here’s why this game has potential to become a movie:

  • We can give Sigourney Weaver a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love that woman as much as the next femgeek, but I want to see another woman hero fight/outwit xenomorphs. And in A:I they succeeded with Amanda Ripley, who’s more of an intellectual hero than an action hero. Nowadays we’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that physical prowess should be the standard for any main female character in an SF movie and that teeters toward the philosophy of “might makes right”. By having an intellectual female hero on the big screen who’s technically savvy, keeps her cool and uses her head, girls (those that are old enough to see the film but are still of an “impressionable” age) will learn that it’s OK (and important) to be smart.
  • It brings the franchise back to its horror roots. One of the reasons why Alien is one of my favorite films of all time is best said by the late, great Roger Ebert:

One of the great strengths of “Alien” is its pacing. It takes its time. It waits. It allows silences. “Alien” uses a tricky device to keep the alien fresh throughout the movie: It evolves the nature and appearance of the creature, so we never know quite what it looks like or what it can do. The 1979 “Alien” is a much more cerebral movie than its sequels, with the characters (and the audience) genuinely engaged in curiosity about this weirdest of lifeforms.

The words I highlighted in bold lead me to an unpopular view: many believe that the franchise started to decline in quality with Alien 3. I believed it declined with James Cameron’s much-loved 1986 sequel when he sidestepped horror for action-thriller and since then every film, comic and video game in the franchise followed in the footsteps of Aliens instead of Alien. Not so with Alien: Isolation and let me tell you, there’s some scary scenes in Alien: Isolation. So scary I was afraid to open any door in my house at night for fear that a xenomorph would jump out at me.

  • It utilizes the technology of the film yet still looks believably futuristic. The technology in Alien reflects the retrofuturism of the 70s even though the story takes place in 2122. Alien: Isolation starts off 15 years after the first film but doesn’t use 2014 technology (the year the game was released). The technology is large, beige and bulky yet that never for once distracts the player/viewer. It works.
  • It centers on a mother/daughter relationship that’s rare in a lot of fiction be it film, TV, or video games. Though I would change that relationship to aunt/niece (see below, though it still centers on female relationships).

However cinema has a history of disastrous video game adaptations (Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, etc.) so some changes may be needed to the story. Here’s some changes I would make if I were to write the screenplay.

  • The first plot change I would make is to start the film (after Ripley’s famous last recording) on the Sevastopol space station where Captain Marlowe and his team discover the xenomorph eggs and Marlowe’s wife gets attacked by a facehugger. She is brought on board with the camera closing in on her covered face… then we cut to our first scene of Amanda Ripley.
  • I don’t understand why the game has Ripley kill some of the other survivors of Sevastopol simply because “they don’t trust strangers”. Can’t she at least reason with them and try to convince them that she’s here to help? Can she walk in her mother’s footsteps and convince them that the best way to survive is through teamwork?
  • Her discovery of her mother’s taped message shouldn’t be interrupted by Marlowe’s threats against Taylor’s life. It should be an isolated scene that the audience should linger on while the second movement to Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 plays.
  • I always found it peculiar that the name of the company that the Ripley’s work for is an English-Japanese hybrid, yet there’s never been a Japanese character in the entire franchise. I might change one of the secondary characters (like Ricardo or Waits) or create an entirely new character that’s of Japanese descent.
  • I might change Amanda’s relationship to Ellen from daughter to niece. Why? Because the deleted scene in Aliens where Ellen asks about her daughter isn’t considered canon (though it’s often been included in many “Special Edition” releases) and for me seemed too left field when you remember that Ripley made no mention of having a daughter in Alien. Why would a single mom (no word on what happened to Amanda’s dad) leave her only child (once again, no word on whether Amanda has siblings) for extended periods of time? It would make more sense for a niece, who has a mother already, desire to emulate the aunt she admires by becoming an engineer and working for the same company, investigate her aunt’s disappearance.

This is the Lady, sole inhabitant of Planet X, signing off.

Now, dear readers, it’s your turn. Do you think Alien: Isolation would make a good movie? What did you enjoy about Alien: Isolation?  What would you change? Sound off in the comments.

 

 

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6 Star Wars Action Figures That Should Be Added to the Black Series

Yesterday, I took a Star Wars Black Series survey at surveymonkey.com to tell Hasbro what I want to see in future Black Series releases. If you take it yourself, you can 20% off your purchase at hasbrotoyshop.com (a word of caution, the survey is heavily 6″ biased, which can be a problem if you lean more towards 3.75 figures like me).

On another related note, I finally, finally, finally got that Ahsoka Tano figure I’ve always coveted. For years I wanted the Vintage Collection Ahsoka Tano figure but it was always priced at over $100. I love to collect, but I’m not stupid so I waited and learned that Hasbro had released the same figure to the Black Series line. So when it was finally available on Amazon, I bought it. Before that, I bought Medal Ceremony Princess Leia, a much needed update of a 1998 version.

Recently, I got myself to thinking: “what other past figures should get the Black Series treatment?” The possibilities are endless. So I’m narrowing the list down to female characters only and they’ll mostly be from before the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm. Also this is going to be an ongoing series so for now I’m going to pick 6 characters. Let’s begin, shall we?

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Padme Naberrie Peasant Disguise

Episode 1’s toy line in 1999 had three Padme figures: her battle gear, her Mongolian-influenced senate dress and her peasant disguise outfit when she first meets Anakin. At the time, Lucasfilm were promoting Padme and Queen Amidala as separate characters to avoid any spoilers. Padme’s battle of Naboo outfit was redesigned and re-released in 2012 to coincide with the 3-D release of The Phantom Menace but there hasn’t been a Tatooine Peasant Padme since 1999.

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Leia Organa Ewok Celebration Dress

Leia channels her inner Earth Mother. This is my third favorite Leia costume after this one and this one. To show off her diplomacy skills, she wears the dress the Ewoks make for her after Wicket brings her back to his village and again after the Empire is defeated. The last time we saw this dress in toy form was as part of some collectible tin collection in 2006. The figure looks like she needs to use the bathroom. A Black Series update is much needed.

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Juno Eclipse

This figure was part of the 2007 multi-media project The Force Unleashed. Juno Eclipse (portrayed by Nathalie Cox) is the Imperial pilot who escorts Galen Marek/Starkiller on his missions to eliminate any remaining jedi and helps him find his humanity (as well as hers) in the process. The only figure of her is her black Imperial Officer uniform. Eventually she joined the Rebellion so maybe when Hasbro gets around to designing her, she’ll have her Rebellion look.

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T’ra Saa

The picture above comes from the 2009 Comic 2-Pack Collection of secret jedi couple Tholme and T’ra Saa, two heroes of the Clone Wars. Not only did the line feature two action figures for the price of one but also came with the Dark Horse comic both characters featured in. No doubt the toys would fetch a very high price today what with Dark Horse no longer holding the reins of Star Wars. Hasbro can release both Tholme and Saa figures separately under the Black Series banner but you know which one I’m more willing to shelve out money for.

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Darth Phobos

Another character introduced through The Force Unleashed only this character functions as a training hologram for Starkiller. She was included in a 2011 5-pack Toys R Us exclusive. Unfortunately that cost at the time, $49.99. Today the lowest price you can get for the pack on Amazon is $149.69. Yup, time to give the gal her spotlight and her Black Series treatment.

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Jabba’s Dancers

OK, I cheated. I said 6 but I’m including these three because how can you split them up. Well, maybe Hasbro can sell them separately or as a 3-pack. Anyway, Rystall, Greeata and Lyn Mei were added to a musical scene in Jabba’s palace in the Return of the Jedi special edition. They were a part of the late 90s Power of the Force line and included in a 30th Anniversary Walmart exclusive with Joh Yowza and Rappertunie. However these gals have been in the same stilted position since 1998! They could use more articulation because they’re, you know, dancers. 

So that’s my first wish list of Star Wars ladies who should be added to the Black Series. Stay tuned for part 2 and sound off in the comments: which female character action figures would you like to see reissued as new additions to the Black Series?

See also: 10 Female Star Wars Characters That Should Be Made Into Action Figures

 

 

 

 

 

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