Solo: A Star Wars Story: Qi’ra and the problem with Star Wars’ female protagonists


It seems like Solo: A Star Wars Story is relying on two obvious clichés for Emilia Clarke’s character, Qi’ra. Why does it have to be this way?

Over the years, Star Wars has done a lot when it comes to (admittedly white) female representation. How many times have we here written about Princess Leia and what she means to us? Same with Rey and Rose, at this point. We like these characters because they refuse to be just one thing, are presented with real flaws or things they must overcome and ultimately inspire us to be better in real life.

But as information about Qi’ra, the female lead of Solo: A Star Wars Story, starts to arrive, we worry that honestly, Star Wars might have missed the mark with her. It’s not just the romantic angle that the film’s marketing has already started to play up.

It’s that the movie appears to be going for a particularly tired pair of clichés when it comes to Qi’ra. Alden Ehrenreich has said explicitly that she’s “very important” and that “they’ve known each other for a long time,” which suggests that she’s effectively a childhood friend.

And then we get to the second problem. Ehrenreich’s take on her even adds that she’s better at “working the system,” which honestly makes it sound as though they’ve taken a look at Leia, made her a criminal, and then added in a background element to make Qi’ra seem different enough to pass.

That, to quote the recent Deadpool 2 trailer, seems like “lazy writing.” At this point, it’s starting to look like Star Wars can still talk a good game when it comes to women — but, as Buckie Wells has pointed out, it’s also failed to hire any of them to direct (but can find new movies for the showrunners of Game of Thrones) and seemingly can’t break out of repackaging the same standard look even years after sites like Black Girl Nerds have commented on it.

It’s possible that Solo will end up surprising us. Maybe Qi’ra’s secretly a redhead. But even that can’t be the big move that Star Wars makes with its female protagonists here after 40 years.

Next: 4 burning questions for Solo: A Star Wars Story

Leia broke new ground. Rey and Rose are starting to break new ground.

But it’s a shame that right after Rose, Qi’ra is moving us back to what we’ve seen before.