Star Wars: The Last Jedi saw the introduction of the first WOC into the Star Wars trilogy. Kelly Marie Tran introduced us to Rose Tico and won over America as she played an integral part in the narrative and eventual resolution of the film. In fact, fans were anticipating where things were headed for her and Finn in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. Could this be a match in the making?
So after dedicating so much time in The Last Jedi, why in the world would J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio reduce Rose to being just a background character at the rebel base? To go from being in a quarter, the film to being reduced to substantially an extra is both shocking and could be construed as a criticism of The Last Jedi. Why? What exactly was gained by altogether avoiding an unresolved plot point from episode VIII?
Now one of the writers, Chris Terrio said that the lack of Rose had more to do with the death of Carrie Fisher and their reliance on previous footage than Tran's actual character? If that was truly the case, then why didn't they just write Leia's death in the first act of the film before we even saw Rose? This all seems way too convenient to validate their decision and not even something close to actually plausible.
What's sad is that Disney missed out on a golden opportunity. Instead of seeing her rise from tragedy and take on the first order, Rose was relegated to radar duty. It was almost a way for the writers to put that character in her place. How powerful would it have been Rose joining in that final battle with Finn and Jannah on that Star Destroyer? Jesus, she was allegedly researching how to combat Star Destroyers already. This injustice has already garnered the attention of directors such as Jon Chu (who have already pitched a Disney +) series starring Tran.
What's sad is that this isn't the first time Star Wars has been dismissive of a Women of Color.
Does anyone remember what happened to Val in Solo: A Star Wars Story? You probably don't because of her character being so forgetful but if anyone saw the trailer, it seemed like Thandie Newton's character had a bigger role. It seems that this franchise has made a habit of bait and switch when it comes to women of color but somehow they get a pass. Or at least they used to. There has been a much louder backlash with the treatment of Rose in The Rise of Skywalker that could, hopefully, finally start a pop culture conversation we need to have about women of color in genre movies.
If Disney is attempting to create this look of representation then perhaps they should actually do it. It seems nowadays, the moment we think that progress is being made, we take a step backward, reminding us just how far we have yet to go. Just when it seems that common sense has prevailed, it's evident that these sequels (like Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker) are guided by what tests well.