C. Molly Smith
December 21, 2017 7:00 am

Star Wars has given us amazing, empowered women, with kick-ass moments to match. In the OG films, Princess Leia was fierce, fiery, and intent on bringing Darth Vader and the Empire to justice. In the prequels, Padmé was a queen and, later, a senator who inspired hope in her people. After that, The Force Awakens introduced us to Rey, who promptly showed she was much more than a Jakku scavenger, but instead one with the Force — and General Leia was along for the ride. And now, in The Last Jedi, we have more Rey and Leia — plus, newcomers Rose and Vice Admiral Holdo.

The Last Jedi paints all four as strong, determined, and upstanding — and between them, this might be the most ferociously feminist Star Wars film yet.

Yeah, I said it. Because while Star Wars has had its empowering moments with female characters before, it hasn’t on this scale. This is the first Star Wars film to feature multiple female leads after all. And just consider the major highlights of what the women accomplish.

For starters, Rey, grows stronger with the Force each day — or, at least, more in control. At the beginning of the film, when she’s training with Luke, we see her lifting small rocks via the Force; and by film’s end, she’s lifting huge rocks like it’s child’s play to help what’s left of the Resistance escape from the closing-in First Order. Not only that, but with Luke gone, it’s implied that Rey will be the (new type of) Jedi to lead the Resistance. So yeah, Rey’s a BOSS.

Then there’s Rose, who emerged from her her behind-the-scenes post on the Resistance support crew to, along with Finn, attempt to break through the First Order’s defenses, shut down their tracking system, and allow the Resistance to escape undetected. While their plan didn’t exactly go as, well, planned, she was extremely heroic in that mission, and elsewhere — like how in the final, climactic battle, she put her life on the line to save Finn from his suicide mission. (And IRL, Kelly Marie Tran is the first Asian-American actress to lead a Star Wars film.)

Meanwhile, Leia showed true leadership. (And is also so Force sensitive she can fly? I have questions, but that was dope.) We got a taste of it in The Force Awakens, but she has a much bigger presence here — which we see when she repeatedly puts Poe in his place, and imparts to him that there’s a smarter way to go about war. It’s not all about blowing things up and acting rashly, she explains, but rather, the Resistance needs to use its head to keep its heroes alive.

Holdo, who is so over “trigger-happy fly boys,” echoes that sentiment. She picks up where Leia left off when the General is hurt in battle, and devises a plan to get the Resistance to a former base, where they can safely contact their allies without the First Order even knowing. Better yet, she shows her true dedication to the cause, when she remains behind to manage the main ship while others flee to safety — and when the First Order attacks the escape pods, she goes into lightspeed to wipe out the attacking ship.

It’s maybe the ultimate, and most badass, self-sacrifice in the Star Wars universe to date, so much so that it almost makes up for the fact that Star wars took Laura Dern away from us as quickly as they introduced her into this world.

Take a moment to let all these moments sink in, and it’s like these ladies get their Wonder Woman/No Man’s Land moment, multiple times, and HELL YES TO THAT.

But what’s best of all is that the women of The Last Jedi shine — just as people. When Rey and Kylo Ren face off as he’s leaning a ‘lil more to the Dark Side, for instance, it feels like a fight between two characters — Rey vs. Kylo Ren, Light vs. Dark, good vs. evil (ish), and never woman vs. man.

Of course it’s amazing, as a woman, to see Rey, Rose, Leia, and Holdo thrive on-screen — fighting for the greater good and saving the galaxy. Hell, it’s even exciting to see Captain Phasma kick-ass in the name of evil, and more of that would’ve been great. But The Last Jedi treats men, women, and (some) alien creatures alike as equals, as it should, and it perfectly addressed an imbalance…

In the moments in which Poe seems to challenge Holdo’s leadership not so much because she’s a woman, but because she embraces her femininity with her purple hair, elegant gown, and accessories to match — he makes a comment about how she’s not what he expected, then proceeds to undermine her and mansplain — Holdo immediately shuts that down. Like, love you Poe, but LITERALLY NEVER QUESTION LAURA DERN’S INTENTIONS *ESPECIALLY* BECAUSE OF THE WAY SHE LOOKS.

All this is to say that the women of The Last Jedi are totally badass and amazing and I would love for them to be my BFFs, and I also love that they’re badass as people. More of that please, thank you.

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