The diversification of the film industry has been a hot talking point for a while now, since many of the biggest blockbusters and tentpole projects tend to be headlined by white men and directed by white men. However, the major studios are taking steps towards amending this issue. In the coming years, Marvel and DC will release projects such as Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther; while Daisy Ridley's Rey is being featured front and center as one of the leads for December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
There are also strides being made behind-the-camera to mix things up, as Warner Bros.' standalone Wonder Woman film will be helmed by Patty Jenkins - and ideally, they won't be alone in hiring a female director to make one of their movies. According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, there will come a day when a woman calls the shots on a Star Wars film.
Kennedy was recently at the Most Powerful Women Summit to discuss the role women have had in shaping the future of the Star Wars brand. In an interview with Fortune, she talked about how a significant portion of the creative team for the franchise is made up of women, and how that has impacted the decision-making process:
"Fifty percent of our executive team are women. Six out of eight of the people in my Story Group are women. I think it's making a huge difference in the kind of stories we're trying to tell."
Rey is hardly the only female protagonist that Lucasfilm will debut in the near future. Felicity Jones has been pegged as the main character for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and it's been reported that Rian Johnson is looking to add two strong female leads for his Episode VIII (with Gugu Mbatha-Raw snagging one of those parts). While it is exciting that Lucasfilm is at the forefront of mixing things up in regards to starring talent, it's important that they do it for the right reasons (and not just for the sake of diversity).
Kennedy seemed to be aware of this when she talked about the possibility of a woman Star Wars director:
"It is going to happen. We are going to hire a woman who’s going to direct a Star Wars movie. I have no doubt. On the other hand, I want to make sure we put someone in that position who’s set up for success. It’s not just a token job to look out and try to find a woman that we could put into a position of directing Star Wars ... If we do want to bring a woman in to direct a Star Wars movie, we want to make sure that it’s somebody who’s passionate and really, really wants to do a Star Wars movie. We don’t want to talk somebody into it."
The first and foremost priority for Lucasfilm should be finding the best fit for whatever project they're developing, regardless of race or gender. No doubt, though, there are female directors whose style and vision would mesh with the Star Wars franchise (ones who are interested in accepting the job, too) - and besides, it's not as though one is going to be hired on a project as big as a Star Wars movie strictly because they're a woman. Kennedy seems confident about such a hiring taking place at some point, so that is encouraging to hear.
As for what film could be handed off to a lady, that's a mystery for now. The only Star Wars movie in development without a director is the third Anthology film, which is tentatively slated for release in 2020. It's possible that this movie (rumored to be about Boba Fett) will be the one, or perhaps Lucasfilm has plans that go into next decade (who's up for Episode X?). Regardless, there's a lot of time between now and then, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.