The new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is definitely emphasizing a return to the franchise’s roots. Today’s teaser gave us a voice-over from Mark Hamill as Luke, a glimpse of Harrison Ford as Han Solo and his Wookie sidekick Chewbacca, and shots of the Millennium Falcon in action again.
In the trailer, a voice over, presumably Mark Hamill as Luke, talks about how the Force runs strong in his family. As he says, “My sister has it,” we see the silhouette of a woman, presumably Princess Leia, being offered a light saber by an unknown Jedi. After a moment’s hesitation, she takes it.
And the celebration was endless.
@mktoon If I see Leia use a lightsaber, my nerd fanboygasm will be complete and nothing else in the rest of the movie will matter. :) LOL— Derek Hernandez (@IronChefOR) April 16, 2015
Realizing I have been waiting all of my post-tween life for Leia to pick up a light saber.— Phoebe North (@phoebenorth) April 16, 2015
The expanded universe novels did not emotionally prepare me for the actual sight of Leia holding a lightsaber. #TheForceAwakens— ✨Melissa Grey✨ (@meligrey) April 16, 2015
But is that really Leia in the shot? If it is, is it a flashback from an earlier time? We’ve already seen Leia fight in the original series. And in the extended Star Wars universe, Leia is a strong soldier as well as a leader. But does this mean we’ll be able to see Carrie Fischer hold a light saber for the first time in the franchise?
If it’s Leia, then who’s handing her the light saber?
And if it isn’t Leia, how mad will the Internet be at this obvious fake-out?
Fans are already buzzing with theories. The general popular consensus is that it’s Luke handing Leia his light saber (perhaps post-Empire Strikes Back), but there are also plenty of outliers. The die-hards are convinced that it’s actually Anakin’s Sith light saber. But the rest? Cue mystery.
That is definitely Anakin's lightsaber (and the one that Luke lost in Empire) that Leia(?) is handed.— Matthew (@PunkBoy412) April 16, 2015
More (Luke? Leia handing a light saber to….her daughter?)…— Frankie *wear that mask* (@Smugbug) April 16, 2015
Okay, but someone mentioned Leia holding a lightsaber and I got a (maybe woman's) hand holding a lightsaber. NOT THE SAME THING.— Katie Schenkel writes comics (@JustPlainTweets) April 16, 2015
Even if fans are wrong about the specifics of the scene, it says far too much about the state of gender roles in Star Wars that the simple fact that a woman touched a light saber has half the Internet crying for joy. Despite Leia holding her own at the top of comic charts for Marvel‘s new Princess Leia tie-in series, women in the franchise haven’t fared very well lately. They’ve been overlooked by franchise product development, and sometimes actively ridiculed by members of the fandom. Despite a lack of equal numbers of women in the cast compared to the number of male roles, the new movie does seem to be emphasizing diversity. And the new series of tie-in novels are already shoring up that theme.
During today’s Force Awakens panel, producer Kathleen Kennedy told an ecstatic audience that the Star Wars franchise needs more women. She then promised “a lot of wonderful new characters” for female fans to identify with.
Hopefully, they’ll all get their own light sabers.
Screengrab via StarWars/YouTube