‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Gwendoline Christie on Playing the Series’ First Female Villain

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A couple months ago, a minor controversy erupted when the official Star Wars Facebook page posted an image of Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), and some dickhead inevitably stepped in asking how we were supposed to know that was a woman beneath the armor. In all fairness to the guy (who should have known better to lead with “Not to be sexist but…”), most media embeds the knowledge that for something to be deemed feminine, it has to be sexual. There can be armor, but it has to be armor that accents the breasts, legs, and posterior.

 

star-wars-the-force-awakens-gwendoline-christie-captain-phasma-442x600To the eternal credit of the person running the Star Wars Facebook page, they responded “It’s armor. On a woman. It doesn’t have to look feminine.”

 

Christie hopes she’ll have viewers rethinking feminine power with Phasma, and in a new interview with EW, she talks a bit about her mysterious character. Without specifically mentioning the online fracas from a couple months back, Christie commented on how the costume flies in the face of how female characters are expected to dress:

 

“We know very little about her at this stage, but what I think people are drawn to is that this is a very progressive female character,” the actress says. “We see Captain Phasma, and we see the costume from head to toe, and we know that it is a woman. But we are used to, in our media, connecting to female characters via the way that they look, from the way they are made flesh.”

 

While I disagree that we “know” it’s a woman based solely on the costume (part of the great reveal at the end of Metroid was learning that Samus was a woman beneath the armor; again, it’s about flying in the face of traditional designs), the Game of Thrones actress goes on to make the important point that with Phasma, “We are actually connecting to a female character as a human being.”

 

Hopefully this won’t be lip service, and while I would like to pinpoint Phasma as “mysterious”, the entire cast is pretty much mysterious at this point. We know as much about Captain Phasma as we do about Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) or General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). Will the character remain on like Boba Fett or will we get to see her face? What are her motives? Or is she just there to look cool? That may be a triumph for gender equality, but it’s also a failure to create a good character. Hopefully, we’ll cheer for Phasma not just because she’s a progressive female character, but also because she’s memorable on her own merits.

 

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