The Han Solo prequel anthology film doesn’t have a name — but as of today, it does have a cast.
And boy, it’s uh ... kinda super white.
It’s not helping that baby-faced directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are in the mix, blending in too well, age-wise, with the young Han Solo crew. It’s also not helping that confirmed cast member of color Thandie Newton is absent, leaving Donald “Lando Calrissian” Glover as the lone representative of the Han Solo prequel’s racial bonafides.
Just as Lando Calrissian was the only black man in the galaxy, so is Donald Glover the only person of color in this photograph.
One of the reasons this seems so noticeable is because the new Star Wars trilogy (and its anthology films) has been so relatively diverse, compared to its predecessors. Our main Star Wars trilogy has a woman in the lead, with a black man and a Latino man to fill out its central trio. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s cast is so brown that white supremacists boycotted it (actually, Men’s Rights Activists did that with The Force Awakens, too).
And as a professional observer of Disney, Lucasfilm and our modern Star Wars franchise — I feel relatively confident that the Han Solo movie will wind up adding more actors of color once Disney finishes up its casting, which is still ongoing.
What gets me about this is that Disney should be aware of how this looks.
Looking for women of color in Star Wars casts like pic.twitter.com/H7s9a6kcxu— Tito (@TitoTitoq85) February 21, 2017
What has changed in Hollywood?— Kayla/Marie (@Maria_Giesela) February 21, 2017
Not shit. pic.twitter.com/CzCAfYoGeN
It's hilarious to me they released this photo w/out Thandie after the last time a SW movie did a promo photo w/o PoC https://t.co/xijDYzm4S7— Alanna Bennett (@AlannaBennett) February 21, 2017
Because they’ve been through this before
Nearly three years ago, Lucasfilm released the first official photo of the Force Awakens cast — although we didn’t even know the name of the movie at the time. Much like the Han Solo movie, which we still don’t have a confirmed title for. You can see it above. It was very cool!
It also made a lot of people very apprehensive. It revealed a room of predominantly white actors, producers and the director — excepting John Boyega and Oscar Isaac — and only two female actresses against more than half a dozen men, Carrie Fisher and Daisy Ridley.
In April of 2014, we did not know that Daisy Ridley wouldn’t be the new trilogy’s Royal Love Interest in a Dress but, actually, the franchise lead. In fact, the PR machine of The Force Awakens treated Ridley’s role as lead as a spoiler, not releasing toys of her with a lightsaber until after the movie’s release and making sure that Boyega was holding it in promotional material. We had no idea if Carrie Fisher was in the movie as a cameo or what.
What I’m saying is that given only that picture and that casting information to go on, it looked an awful lot like the new Star Wars trilogy would be following the pattern of the old — a pattern where the only woman in the universe who mattered was the one who got to kiss one of the leads.
The tongue-lashing Disney got for showing off its cast in an unfinished state was so immediate that The Hollywood Reporter noticed it on the very same day, and published a piece reporting that casting for another female role was ongoing. The criticism lasted more than a month — until the company announced that Gwendoline Christie and Lupita Nyong’o had joined the cast.
The Star Wars Celebration convention kicks off on April 13 this year, so it’s possible that Disney/Lucasfilm will expand on the Han Solo movie’s cast within the same time period as in 2014. Hopefully, those additions will include another role or two for an actor of color — heck, let’s dream, maybe it’ll be Sana Starros, who appeared in Marvel Comics’s Star Wars as Han’s former partner who’d married him as part of a con.
And maybe next time Disney will wait a few weeks until its casting is locked down, so we can all freakin’ relax.