Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
It’s the kiss heard ‘round the galaxy. No, not the long-awaited smooch between Ben Solo (Adam Driver) and Rey Palpatine… uh, Rey Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. While that was a “for #Reylo fans only” moment, the more consequential, and controversial, lip-lock happens in the final scenes of the film. As the Resistance is celebrating its triumph over the Palpatine-led Final Order, Commander Larma D’Acy (Amanda Lawrence) — previously seen in The Last Jedi as a Vice Admiral Holdo loyalist — finds her girlfriend, an X-Wing pilot, among the crowd and the two share the franchise’s first on-camera same-sex kiss.
It’s only a quick buss in terms of screen time, but it lasts long enough to register with the audiences that have been hoping to see LGBTQ romance represented in the far, far away galaxy that George Lucas created four decades ago. To be fair, the animated series Star Wars Resistance beat The Rise of Skywalker to the punch by several months, revealing in September that aliens Orka and Flix were an openly gay couple. And if you’re a devoted reader of the Star Wars novels, you’ll remember that Imperial deserter Sinjir Rath Velus — a hero in Chuck Wendig’s 2015 book, Aftermath — was similarly out of the closet, the first such character in the official canon.
Still, it’s no small thing that D’Acy and her lover, who isn’t identified by name in the scene, are the first same-sex lovers in the live action Star Wars realm. Reaction on Twitter so far is evenly divided between happiness that this particular barrier has been shattered and disappointment that director J.J. Abrams kept their love in the background.
And then there are those who are disappointed that The Rise of Skywalker didn’t give us the One True Pairing fans were hoping for all along: Poe Dameon (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega). Instead, Abrams pointedly turns their romantic gaze in other directions: Finn spends much of the movie pining for Rey (Daisy Ridley), while Poe angry-flirts with old flame, Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell). The characters’ chemistry and obvious affection for each other has been oft-commented upon across the sequel trilogy, and both Isaac and Boyega have openly acknowledged that there’s something between them. “Personally, I kind of hoped and wished that maybe that would’ve been taken further in the other films, but I don’t have control,” Issac recently told Variety, adding, “If they would’ve been boyfriends, that would have been fun.” Finally, something Twitter can actually agree upon!
Whether it left them thrilled or disappointed, at least American audiences got to see a same-sex kiss in a Star Wars movie; the rest of the world may not be so lucky. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the United Arab Emirates censored the scene before The Rise of Skywalker premiered in that country, and Singapore followed suit. (China, meanwhile, is screening the uncensored version, but to box-office returns that are less than out of this world.)
Concerns about the global market are among the likely reasons that Disney has been slow to feature LGBTQ characters in their blockbusters. Avengers: Endgame was the first Marvel Studios film to feature an openly gay character (albeit in a decidedly minor role), while Frozen 2 notably declined to carry out the wishes of many moviegoers to #GiveElsaGirlfriend. While The Rise of Skywalker is a step in the right direction, the day when we’ll see an openly gay lead character in a Star Wars features still appears to be very far, far away.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is playing in theaters now; visit Fandango for showtime and ticket information.
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