What the dickens is this? Two posts in one week? Why yes, delicious readers, it is. Devilishly exciting, I’m sure. What on Earth could this one be about then? (The title might give it away somewhat.)
Ah, Star Wars. Lovely, lovely Star Wars. They are smashing movies, all three of them (shusht). And I will judge people based on their preference. Basically, say you don’t like the
Peter Cushing first Star Wars one best, and I put a tiny mental cross next to your name. Oh yes. Whinge too much about the third, or over-idolise the second, and it’s a tinier cross, but a cross nonetheless.
Anyway, this week the cast for the new Star Wars movies was announced. (Though not which one of our heroes was going to die a Tediously Heroic Tear-Jerking Death.) Hurrah! For about three seconds. Hurroo when I saw that in a startlingly courageous move, they’d decided that, yes, it might be forty years later but by gum there was only going to be one new woman and one black guy in this movie! No-one’s going to mistake this shiny new cast as coming from 2014!
After the Internet was sad for a little while, Mr Abrams claimed there’s still a major female mixed-race part to be cast. This is, of course, not any sort of damage control on his part, I assume.
One of the things that came up during the Internet sadness was the idea that, with a few exceptions, female characters had always been marginalised and not very good in Star Wars. Let’s just pretend that’s not one of the most incredibly shit arguments ever for continuing not to bother with excellent numerous female characters and instead tut loudly, for Star Wars, bless its gender-biased heart (SWTOR drives me nuts with this: eight classes, each class has five unique companions; guess how many for each class are women? One, mostly; two if you’re super lucky), still has many a smashing woman in it.
We are, course, entering the world of the Expanded Universe here, and alas, book readers, not your EU. Star Wars books ain’t my thing, nor is the Clone Wars telly. Star Wars games are. Most specifically, the games set in The Old Republic Era, some 3000 years before the movies. It is the best of all possible Star Wars. Except the one in my head.
So let us go a long, long, *long* time ago to have a looksee at the best of the sort of women good ol’ Bioware came up with for gaming delights:
1) Bastila Shan – The thing that always made me saddest about the Star Wars movies was a lack of major female Jedi. I want a lightsaber dammit! And Knights of the Old Republic won me over because not only did I get a lightsaber, but I could fight alongside other women with slightly less cool lightsabers! Bastila is the major NPC of KoTOR. She’s a padawan with a special ability, Battle Meditation, that could turn the tide of the Republic’s war against the Sith. She’s also arrogant, impulsive, overconfident and trying not to crumble under the pressure of, y’know, saving the galaxy. She has a delightful sense of humour, and is delightful to wind up. I love her. If I was in charge of Star Wars movies, it would be starring Bastila. (It also doesn’t hurt that she’s voiced by Jennifer Hale.)
2) Kreia – aka (spoilers) Darth Traya. My favourite Star Wars villain. Darth Vader is cool, but Darth Traya is scary as anything. She’s definitely more of a Palpatine, but lacks his arrogance, and luck at having completely incompetent opposition. She actually has to *work* at manipulating people, and she’s brilliant at it, bringing the Jedi order to the brink of extinction. She spends her time lying, deceiving, and betraying, taking the occasional break to let you know compassion is rubbish. She has a fascinating view of the Force itself, despising it for the control it exerts over life, and doing all she can to destroy it forever.
3) Meetra Surik – the PC of Knights of the Old Republic II, canonically a woman, hurrah! A general in the Jedi Civil War, she destroyed of Malachor V, was exiled from the Jedi Order and cut off from the force, before she returned to the Republic, dispatched three Sith Lords, restored her connection to the Force and single-handedly rebuilt the Jedi Order. Not too shabby.
4) Vette – There’s a character in KoTOR called Mission Vao who’s a wise-cracking Twi’lek rogue from the – oh, it hurts to type – ‘wrong side of the tracks’. She is exceptionally annoying. I thought Vette was going to be the same. But no! Stunningly, it’s the same character archetype, but using MAGIC…or maybe better writing and less yarg voice-acting, she’s suddenly rather delightful as she assists your Sith Lord in taking over the universe, yay. (Ooh, maybe that’s it – less irritating helping a Sith than a Jedi.)
5) Darth Zash – The poster girl for affable evil. Darth Zash is sheer delight. Yes, she wants to kill you and take over your body, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t *like* you! Brilliant, ruthless, and yet always polite and friendly, I cheered when her death didn’t actually mean she was dead.
6) Satele Shan – A descendant of Bastila, the head of the Jedi order is cool, confident and occasionally quite funny. With her in charge, you do get the feeling that maybe the universe is going to be okay after all. Also, she’s freaking awesome in The Old Republic trailers, with both epic lightsaber duelling and blasting down Sith fighters. Take a looksee. (And, yes, that’s Jennifer Hale again.)
7) Kalijo Djannis – Chaotic neutral? I think? I’m terrible at DnD alignments. Mostly I stick with Chaotic Good cause it’s the easiest for me to follow. Anyway, Kaliyo: she’s keen on excitement and shooting things and having fun. She’s totally chilled: killing, not killing, whatever. Lying, not lying…those are pretty much the same thing, right? I love seeing this much lack of giving a fuck in a female character. Tasty, tasty novelty.
8) Kira Carsen – If I got to be a Jedi and have my own padawan, Kira is pretty much all I would want. She has a Mysterious Past, and is Very Funny, and Mocks All The Things. She came to the Order late and struggles with her identity as a Jedi, and with her connection to the Sith. Also she has excellent damage output, which is very hand cause I’m a terrible dps Jedi Guardian.
9) Mako – Occasionally, when playing on the Imperial side of The Old Republic you come across the odd Decent Person. That’s Mako. Yeah, she’s got some mysterious cybernetics and way too many sisters and Republic intelligence is after her, but, essentially, she’s a nice, good-natured person. Who just happens to love bounty-hunting.
10) Darth Zhorrid – Ahaha. Okay, more of a bit part than any of the other characters on this list, but I love her something ridic. Zhorrid is all Chaotic Evil, but better: utterly daft Chaotic Evil who’s no idea just how rubbish she is. She’s lolarious, and I’m only sad that her demise is inevitable. I’d totally have saved her crazy evilicious ways if I could.
And an extra mention for Fem!Revan. Uncanonical, alas and unfairly, for clearly Revan as a woman is way better. Jedi, Sith, Jedi, saving the Republic, destroying the Republic, saving it all over again…I never managed to get the whole way through KoTOR playing as a guy…though I did last longer than in Mass Effect. My feelings on this matter are in no way influenced by the splendid romance with the dashing Republic pilot, Carth Onasi.
And so concludes this lovely list. Now I have to watch something for Verity! I think, since we’re talking about some New Who that I haven’t seen in years and, obviously, I don’t ever wing it on our very serious podcast. Yes. Good.