‘Star Wars’ places inspiring heroines at the fore of ‘Forces of Destiny’ – USA TODAY
Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, Dave Filoni and others explain the mind-set behind ‘Star Wars Forces of Destiny.’
Star Wars’ newest pop-culture initiative is honoring the legacy of its awesome and inspiring women.
Launching this summer, Star Wars Forces of Destiny is a multi-part campaign comprised of short-form animation, children’s books, apparel and toys featuring the sci-fi franchise’s stable of female characters in movies and TV, from Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia in George Lucas’ original trilogy to Daisy Ridley’s Rey of The Force Awakens and upcoming The Last Jedi (in theaters Dec. 15).
“The portfolio of characters has been the cornerstone of the enduring success of Star Wars,” says Paul Southern, Lucasfilm’s senior vice president of licensing. Strong female leads like Jyn Erso of Rogue One, former Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano and warrior Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels and Padme Amidala in the prequel trilogy have “always been a cornerstone of the storytelling and a really important component in terms of creating that broad appeal.”
Eight animated shorts debut in July on the Disney YouTube channel and Disney.com that feature characters in untold two- to three-minute mini-adventures. Among the tales: Rey saves BB-8 on Jakku and Leia rescues Chewbacca from a Wampa on Hoth (seen in The Empire Strikes Back).
Executive produced by Rebels honcho Dave Filoni, the animation will also feature other iconic characters such as Finn, Han Solo and Anakin Skywalker. Some movie actors reprise their characters, including Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn and Felicity Jones as Jyn, while Tiya Sircar and Ashley Eckstein take on their respective Rebels roles as Sabine and Ahsoka. The first round of shorts — in addition to eight new ones — will be collected as a two-part Disney Channel special in the fall narrated by Maz Kanata, with Lupita Nyong’o returning to her wise Force Awakens sage.
Daisy Ridley reprises her ‘Force Awakens’ role as Rey in new animation as part of ‘Star Wars Forces of Destiny.’
Clothes, home decor and accessories from the Forces of Destiny line debut exclusively in Target stores Aug. 1, the same date new 11-inch “Adventure Figures” from Hasbro hit retail. A hybrid of traditional dolls and articulated action figures aimed for a younger audience, the toys include Rey, Sabine and Jyn as well as Luke Skywalker, Yoda and Chewbacca to resonate with boys and girls alike.
“We want to be as inclusive as possible (and) make sure we represent the inspirational role models from the Star Wars universe,” says Samantha Lomow, senior vice president for Hasbro Brands.
Star Wars weathered a backlash around the holiday release of The Force Awakens in December 2015 with fans outraged about a lack of Rey in toy aisles: The hashtag #WheresRey trended on Twitter and director J.J. Abrams called the situation “preposterous and wrong.”
“We saw the demand for Rey product was very high and she proved to be an extremely successful and engaging character,” Southern says, adding that Forces of Destiny was born out of Disney CEO Robert Iger’s vision after the company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. “He talked about how he felt it was very important that we broaden the audience for Star Wars away from what had traditionally been the core of the people we’d been talking to.”
The Forces of Destiny name originated from early conversations about how to reflect the female characters’ “everyday heroism” presented in the upcoming animation, Beck says. “We talked about the relationship between the Force and Star Wars and how all of these moments and choices actually are the ones who shape our destiny. It’s all about having that relationship into the force that we all have to do good, to be good, to make the right choices and shape our own lives.”