The Star Wars franchise is revered for the limitless possibilities and the imagination of the filmmakers behind the scenes, and while there are countless alien creatures who populate the galaxy they are still not immune to criticism when it comes to depicting diversity as it mirrors the real world. But director J.J. Abrams attempted to change that when he kickstarted the sequel trilogy with his movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and later following up with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Abrams recently explained why he felt this was an important quality that was missing from the franchise to that point.
While appearing alongside his production partner and spouse Katie McGrath at the 2020 Upfront Summit, the couple revealed their reasoning for increasing the diversity in front of and behind the camera for Lucasfilm's historic franchise.
"In the earliest stages, we talked about, 'If we have this moment, this privilege, what do we want to do with it?'" McGrath said about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. "And not from a place of being preachy or feeding people spinach, just from a place of — any time you have a privilege, you have an obligation, period. That's just how we try to live our lives."
She added that Abrams "thought about building this story with the female protagonist, a set of four main characters: One of whom was Latinx, one of whom was a Nigerian Londoner, one of whom was a woman — a white woman — and one of whom was a white guy... How can we find a way to have every kid who's going to go see that movie see a version of themselves, in a way that isn't often considered at scale?"
While diversity is not the main criticism his Star Wars films have received upon release, Abrams recognized that he always tried to do the best they could.
"The truth is that these are things that are meant to entertain people, to make them feel something and hopefully make them feel good," Abrams said. "Obviously, it doesn't always work. It's hard when it doesn't, and when it doesn't, you have to understand it, you have to acknowledge it, you have to examine it."
While Abrams seems to acknowledge the criticism levied toward Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he still has no regrets about his movie which has grossed over $1 billion at the box office since its release.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently playing in theaters.