On September 2nd, 2020, John Boyega sent out a series of tweets calling Disney out on their mistreatment of POC while filming the most recent Star Wars trilogy. Not even hours later, Disney dropped their trailer for season 2 of the beloved Disney+ original, “The Mandalorian.” They had been teasing the trailer for weeks and they just so happened to release it the day someone decided to call them out. While this may have been a complete coincidence, many fans have reason to believe that Disney used the trailer to drown out Boyega in an attempt to silence him.
John Boyega caught his big break when he entered the Star Wars franchise’s most recent trilogy. He played a stormtrooper who defected to join the Resistance and fight against the very thing that took his life away. But after the first movie, he was tossed to the side. He became a less important character and spent 90% of his screentime yelling for Rey. Now, he’s known for his huge role in the Black Lives Matter movement and has become a voice of hope and reason within the community.
Boyega tweeted about his interview with GQ where he spilled everything he had issues with when it came down to his experience with Disney. In that article he claimed that they had everything laid out for Daisy Ridley, who played Rey, and Adam Driver, who played Kylo Ren, but when it came to main characters of color, they had no idea what to do.
“What I say to Disney is do not market a black character as important and then push them to the side,” Boyega said.
Boyega also suggested that he wasn’t the only one on set treated this way. Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, and Oscar Isaac were all said to have been treated just as inappropriately.
Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico, was one of the biggest plot points of “The Last Jedi.” However, in “The Rise of Skywalker,” she was shown on screen less than 4 times and each time she only had about one line of dialogue. Oscar Isaac, who portrayed Poe Dameron, was given a similar treatment. Isaac was a significant part of the whole trilogy, but many fans were outraged when the Guatemalan-American actor was given a character trait of being an ex-spice runner- the Star Wars Universe’s equivalent to a drug runner.
Boyega has gotten many tweets from others responding to his public call out, many in support but also just as many if not more in dissent. Mark Dice tweeted Boyega directly saying “It’s the franchise that’s toxic. Disney destroyed it. And you kinda suck too. But it was mainly the plots.”
This isn’t the first Star-Wars-related controversy Disney has found themselves in the middle of. In 2016, Disney released “The Force Awakens,” the first movie in their oncoming trilogy. The company teased at there being some kind of relationship between the two male characters Finn and Poe. But, when it came around to “The Last Jedi,” it seemed as though Disney had completely scrapped the idea as if they had no intention to use it in the first place, effectively queer-baiting people into a possible interest in the franchise due to its “diversity.”
All in all, I enjoy the Star Wars franchise, but when it comes down to the treatment of its actors, I’m going to have to say that it’s unacceptable. While Disney has yet to respond to Boyega’s insinuation, I’m sure that if they do, they won’t be apologizing. Even if they did, it wouldn’t change the damage that has already been done.