Recently the Star Wars Battlefront 2 trailer was released and the most surprising news of all was not only does this game actually have a single player campaign, but apparently it stars a female Stormtrooper. If you haven’t watched it, I’ve embedded it here so you can now. It’s certainly worth the two minutes. Did people complain about the fact that the trailer kind of ignores the chronology of Star Wars? No, not really. Did people complain that the game campaign appears to place you as a member of the Empire instead of the Rebellion? Not from any comments I’ve seen as of yet. Did people complain about the fact that the game makes it seem like the Imperial troops were genuinely unhappy about the end of their tyrannical dictatorship? Not in the slightest. Did people complain that the campaign appears to star a female protagonist? This is the internet. Of course they did.
Now I don’t consider myself a champion of new age thinking. On most days I’m avidly anti SJW thinking in general. I don’t personally care one way or another if a game stars a male or female character as long as it’s written well and plays well. Really, I care a lot more about race in video games than gender the bulk of the time. But what I cannot tolerate is arguments that ignore canon or worse, completely disregard canon when it comes to talking about games and/or movies that are part of long standing, established franchises. The truth is that anyone who says that it doesn’t make sense for the protagonist of Star Wars Battlefront 2 to be a female is blatantly wrong and thus an idiot because they are ignoring canon. And when I say canon I’m not even talking about the literally hundreds of books and comics in the extended universe. I’m just talking movies, mainstream cartoons, and canonized games. And I won’t even count The Force Awakens because that movie goes out of its way to break and disregard the established rules of the Star Wars universe. Nor will I bring up Rogue One, because frankly, I don’t need to. With literally just Episodes 1 – 6 and the Clone Wars cartoon I can easily show why it is completely justifiable for this game to star a female protagonist.
Before we get down to business, let me make it very clear that I am not a fan of the EA DICE Star Wars Battlefront franchise. I purchased the Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition for $20 and I have nothing but regrets about that purchase. If I had a time machine, I would go back just to get that $20 back. My disdain for the franchise comes from the fact that EA DICE felt like it was acceptable to sell me a game that is literally unplayable. No, I’m not saying that the game is so bad that I couldn’t play it. I’m saying they created a game that only works in online multiplayer, has no bots, and has unnecessarily high minimum starting numbers. Meaning, unless I want to play Walker Assault, which I never do, I can basically never play the game I paid for. Unless you count sitting in an empty lobby for Fighter Squadron mode and never actually getting to start a match as playing the game. Don’t even get me started on those four expansion packs I shelled out for. My point is that I’m not defending Star Wars Battlefront 2 because I’m a fan of the franchise. I simply hate bad arguments and make it a point to disprove idiots whenever I can. And again, I’m not arguing that sexists are idiots. I’m arguing that people who make arguments about Star Wars while ignoring, disregarding, or not knowing canon are idiots, and I will not abide them.
First let’s address whether or not there are/can be useful women characters in the Star Wars universe. I hate the term “strong female protagonist.” It’s an overused term that doesn’t actually mean anything. How do you define strong? My grandmother birthed and raised seven children. She never fought in a war. Is she not strong? I prefer the term useful women characters because it actually means something. Useful is defined as “able to be used for a practical purpose or in several ways.” So when applied to a person, let’s say that useful means able to accomplish something meaningful, whether positive or negative. So the issue is not can there be/are there strong women in the Star Wars universe, but rather can there be/are there female characters in the Star Wars universe that actually affect what happens, and accomplish things that are actually important? The answer to that question, again without including The Force Awakens or Rogue One, is an overwhelming absolutely. To be clear, this is not me saying that useful female characters can/are allowed to exist in the Star Wars universe. Obviously, they can. That is an argument some illogical millennial would make without any actual evidence to back it up. What I’m saying is that useful female characters already do exist in the Star Wars universe and have for a very long time, thus justifying the addition of yet another one. Let’s make a list.
It wouldn’t be right to start with anyone other than Princess Leia, played by the late, great, and sorely missed Carrie Fisher. In her time, Princess Leia accomplished many great things, none of which were specific to her gender other than pulling off wearing that golden bikini. She smuggled the plans for the Death Star away from the Imperials and was instrumental in getting them to the Rebel Alliance. She single handedly killed Jabba the Hutt, while wearing the aforementioned golden bikini. She helped lead the ground troops to destroy the shield generator on the Endor moon, ultimately making it possible for the rebuilt Death Star to be destroyed. She was also instrumental in the rescuing of Han Solo even without her killing Jabba. There’s your first example.
Padme Amidala is next on our list. Now I know many people, both male and female, don’t like Padme. But remember, we aren’t talking about strong female characters. We’re talking about useful ones. Padme may not have been a great warrior, wife, or character. But she was a great politician. She is first introduced as queen of Naboo. While it’s not directly stated, it’s assumed that this is an elected position because it has a limited term. The films state that she was so loved as queen that the people begged her to extend her term and she opted to serve as a senator rather than break the tradition of term length. While serving as queen of Naboo, she influences the Galactic Senate to oust Chancellor Valorum and replace him with Palpatine. While this may not be a positive accomplishment in the long run, it shows that she is powerful and able to affect the larger plot in important ways. For the purposes of this discussion, that counts as useful. Some of her other political exploits are stopping the deregulation of the banks during the clone wars with a single last minute speech to the Galactic Senate, as shown in Clone Wars. She also fingered Count Dooku as being a criminal long before the Jedi did. While Padme may not be the most bad-ass of female characters, she certainly has agency within the Star Wars universe and can definitely be considered a useful character.
Ahsoka Tano is one of the most famous Jedi in modern Star Wars fandom. Serving as Anakin Skywalker’s only padawan, she was/is a total bad-ass. She not only supported Anakin to the point of him fighting the Jedi Council when they accuse her of wrong doing, but also led her own ground troops during many battles in the Clone Wars. There are countless moments during the Clone Wars cartoon series where she proves herself to be both useful and strong, even by the sexist definition of the word.
Asajj Ventress is still the most bad-ass Sith in my opinion. I will never forget her opening scene in the Clone Wars micro series by Darren Aronofsky. Damn the rule of two, because she was true Sith material all the way. Even Darth Maul didn’t really perform at her level if we’re being honest. She did so much work that the Emperor himself got scared of her and forced Count Dooku to try to put her down. She gets away and orchestrates a plan that almost takes Dooku out long before the Emperor turned on him. There probably isn’t a more useful female fighting for the dark side since the days of the Old Republic.
Those are just four off the top of my head, but there are also plenty of other valuable and useful female characters who show up throughout the first six Episodes and the Clone Wars. Shakti sat on the Jedi Council. Naboo had multiple female pilots during the assault on the Trade Federation command ship. Senators from all over the galaxy were female. Multiple civilizations in the Star Wars universe are led by female characters such as the Night Sisters. All that is to say that it completely fits in the canon to have a useful and/or strong female character not only starring in Star Wars Battlefront 2, but also leading her own troops.
I really shouldn’t have to take the time to justify a female character, but it’s only 2017 and Trump is the President, so it had to be done. But what I think should be considered the more important topic of debate is not the fact that the main character in the campaign is a woman, but rather her position. Does it actually make sense within the canon for a woman to be leading a group of Special Forces Stormtroopers 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of the Emperor? Note that I’m saying 30 years after the death of the Emperor, because in the trailer the main protagonist states: “I’ve waited 30 years for this. I still remember my last orders. The day the real war began.” Followed soon after by showing the Death Star explode and the death of the Emperor.
This is where things get a little tricky. The movies are intentionally vague on a lot of points about the nature of Stormtroopers, but I believe that Clone Wars does enough to fill in the gaps to a point where the main character can be justified. Again, we are only looking at Episodes 1 – 6 and Clone Wars because those are what the mainstream population of Star Wars fans should be familiar with at a minimum to even warrant being allowed to join the conversation. Also, those are all Disney recognized canon in the current Star Wars universe. Many, if not most of the extended novels, comics, and other Star Wars lore are no longer recognized as official canon since George Lucas sold the franchise.
I’m not going to cite specific episodes of the show for purposes of time, but I’m happy to take the time to provide them if any of the information I cite from Clone Wars is called into question. After the release of Attack of the Clones, it was assumed by the general public that all Stormtroopers in Episodes 4 – 6 were clones. While this is very possible, it is highly unlikely for a number of reasons. In Episode 2, we are told that all clones were made based on genetic material from Jango Fett. In this same film, Jango Fett is killed by Mace Windu. The clones continue to be made despite the fact that the genetic source was killed. In Clone Wars, it is clearly stated that the Kaminoans continue to make clones based on Jango Fett, but that they are running out of genetic material. It is never directly stated in any of the episodes of the show or the films why they don’t/can’t make clones from other clones or that they began making clones from a different host. I believe the reason they never cloned a second person was that it would have led to a fracture within the clone army based on the very human practice of hating those who look different from you. It is also stated in Attack of the Clones that all the clones based on Jango Fett, except for Boba Fett, have accelerated aging. The evidence provided clearly shows that the number of clones and potential future clones was dwindling long before A New Hope. The clones were aging much faster than normal humans and obviously an Imperial army of Stormtroopers that had to come from somewhere.
It is agreed upon canon that A New Hope takes place roughly 19 years after Revenge of the Sith, meaning that Luke and Leia are at most, 20 years old in Episode 4. In Clone Wars we are shown countless moments where races/species on both sides of the conflict, outside of battle droids and clones, also fought in the wars. This means that by the time A New Hope takes place, non-clone troops were a normal part of the Emperor’s (who of course controlled both the Separatist and Galactic Republic armies at the same time during the Clone Wars) military practices and strategy. This also means that even if they had not already run out of genetic material and had continued making clones of Jango Fett (the only person to have been cloned for military reasons during this era in the canon) the last clones would be roughly 18 years old at a minimum and would already be in active duty at that age because of their accelerated aging. They may even be retired by then depending on how late into life the Emperor allowed his troops to be.
In Attack of the Clones it is clearly stated, by the Prime Minister of Kamino, that the clones age at twice the speed of a normal human. This means that by current American military standards, and those at the time of the film’s release, a clone would need to be nine to ten years old (18 – 20 in normal human aging) to be combat ready. This also means that even if the very last clones were made nine years after Revenge of the Sith (which would be considered extremely late), those clones would be just starting out as combat ready Stormtroopers during A New Hope. The Star Wars Battlefront 2 trailer places the female main character as a special forces Stormtrooper at the end of Episode 6. Return of the Jedi takes place roughly four years after A New Hope, meaning that our proposed late birth clones, assuming any of them survived the battles leading up to this point, would be 13 years old (26 in normal human aging). I think enough evidence has now been provided to show that it is very plausible and likely within the canon that Stormtroopers definitely consisted of at least some, if not mostly normal human/humanoid troops by the end of Return of the Jedi. While I cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Imperial Army consisted of female ground troops (because you can’t see their faces), I have provided evidence to show that the Star Wars universe takes no issue with female characters being directly involved in combat. We also know that the Emperor was not a sexist because he not only allowed Count Dooku to take on Asajj Ventress as a pupil, but actively feared her power and ordered her assassination as a way to protect himself from eventually being overthrown. We also know that many rebel troops and pilots were female and the Emperor was an excellent military and political strategist. There is no way that he would actively turn down willing troops because they were women when the enemy was deploying women anyway. That’s just bad strategy.
If you can accept that normal humans were part of the Imperial Army by the time Star Wars Battlefront 2 appears to take place, then you have no choice but to accept that at least some of those humans had to be female. At that point, there’s really no canon based justification for any argument stating that “it doesn’t make sense for a female to be the main protagonist in Star Wars Battlefront 2.” If you want to be a sexist, then be a sexist. But please don’t pretend that your sexist arguments actually hold any water according to Star Wars lore because as I’ve shown here, that’s a bold faced, indefensible lie.