Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a cowardly film, but actor Oscar Isaac is not a coward.
Isaac, who has played Poe Dameron in the new Star Wars trilogy since 2015’s The Force Awakens, has been vocal over the years about how he viewed the character’s relationship with Finn, a former stormtrooper with whom he escaped death with in TFA and became a close friend to in the films that followed, as a budding romantic story, one he hoped would culminate in an on-screen relationship, which would have been the first example of gay representation in the mainline Star Wars movies.
Isaac has hinted at this as far back as promotional interviews in 2015, and after fans took to the possibility, Disney and LucasFilm higher ups acknowledged it outright in interviews about the follow-up film The Last Jedi. Speaking with Ecartelera (translated by GayTimes), LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy said the company had active discussions about Poe and Finn being an item at the end of the trilogy, but that it wouldn’t be in The Last Jedi. But she left the possibility open, saying that talks for what would become The Rise of Skywalker were ongoing.
Mild spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker follow:
But ultimately, Kennedy’s dangling of making at least one of the three leads of the new Star Wars trilogy queer was all for nothing. In fact, they went out of their way to debunk it after letting fans believe it was a possibility for years.
No, Poe and Finn don’t get together in Rise of Skywalker, as with every other cowardly choice J.J. Abrams and co. made with the movie, Poe instead gets a female love interest in Zorii Bliss. While the relationship never takes off, it’s the only concrete romantic interaction Poe gets, and while that happens Finn is out seemingly being set up with newcomer Jannah, as Abrams attempts to erase his relationship with Rose Tico entirely. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how marketing handled that character leading up to its release.
If that was the end of the story, it would just be another example of Disney, despite its lip service and queer baiting, never having any intention of delivering breakthrough representation fans wanted, not unlike Frozen II and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s an on-screen kiss between two women in the celebration scene at the end of Rise of Skywalker, but if you put a gun to my head right now I could not tell you their names, what they did in the movie, or if they even had names and roles to begin with.
But that’s not the end of the story. Because again, Oscar Isaac is not a coward.
Isaac, in his contractually obligated interviews to promote the film, has been vocal about how he isn’t happy with the decision to not follow through on years of sexual tension between Poe and Finn. It’s not just once either, it’s been several times across different outlets to any interviewer who will listen.
disney must be so tired of oscar fighting for our rights EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY https://t.co/32XQGr1gHh
— vee ???? (@funkyizuku) December 16, 2019
While in some cases the editing and the dynamics between him and his cast mates makes it a joke, in his interview with Variety he spoke eloquently about the underlying reason for Poe not being portrayed as gay in the movie, and it seems to be the underlying thread of Rise of Skywalker as a movie: it’s a coward’s movie by and for cowards.
“Personally, I kind of hoped and wished that maybe that would’ve been taken further in the other films, but I don’t have control,” Isaac said. “It seemed like a natural progression, but sadly enough it’s a time when people are too afraid, I think, of… I don’t know what.”
At any rate, all of Isaac’s sass is probably never going to amount to much because Rise of Skywalker is the wet fart this story is ending on. Unless there’s a sequel to the sequel trilogy some years from now when Disney and friends have stopped acknowledging queer fandom in interviews just to do nothing about it and are actually putting representation in their movies. Then maybe Poe and Finn will get their time in the sun. In like, the 2030s, or something.