slave leia retired

The original Star Wars trilogy goes out of its way to paint Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia Organa as a force to be reckoned with. She’s a better shot than Luke Skywalker, an intelligent commander of Rebel forces, and more than capable of calling Han Solo on his B.S. When she is captured by the gruesome Jabba the Hutt and forced to wear a skimpy costume, she takes back her own freedom, strangling her captor and freeing herself. Leia is one of the toughest and most empowering women in all of popular science fiction.

So it is disconcerting that the popular image of the character for the past three decades has revolved around that skimpy outfit she’s forced to wear during the first act of Return of the Jedi. Out of context, it’s the worst possible way to portray such a beloved character with so much to offer. “Slave Leia” may be iconic, but not necessarily in a good way. However, a new rumor, straight from a veteran Star Wars artist, claims that Disney and Lucasfilm are well aware of this, and that the scantily clad version of the character may soon be retired for good.

This news comes hot on the heels of Fisher telling Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley to stick her guns and not allow any of the new movies to exploit her sexuality. “You should fight for your outfit. Don’t be a slave like I was,” Fisher told her, “You keep fighting against that slave outfit.” It sounds like the woman who wore the “Slave Leia” metal bikini (which recently sold at auction for $96,000) has some awfully strong feelings about it. If that was the defining image of you, and not you kicking Stormtrooper ass, you’d have strong feelings, too.

And that brings us to comic book artist J. Scott Campbell (who has done plenty of Star Wars work in the past) who says that Disney is currently in the process of removing any and all occurrences of “Slave Leia” from future merchandise. Here’s his quote, taken from a Facebook thread (via Making Star Wars):

Daisy Ridley won’t have to fight against anything. Disney is already well on it’s way to wiping out the ‘slave’ outfit from any future products period. You will NOT see and future merchandising featuring the slave outfit ever again. Trust me.

Campbell elaborated further in another comment, claiming that artists aren’t even allowed to draw Leia in a sexy pose:

Very. I’ve heard it from two sources. We can’t even draw Leia in a sexy pose at Marvel, let alone in that outfit! We also had a 3-D SL statue killed at a major manufacturer because there will no longer be any SL merchandise.

Although this is about as far from confirmed as you can get, this carries just enough weight since it comes from someone who has been given marching orders from Disney and Lucasfilm in the past. He even provided a series of variant covers for the first issue of Marvel’s new Star Wars comic, so it’s not like he’s out of the loop. Here’s one of his covers, for the record:

j scott campbell star wars cover

In all honesty, the “Slave Leia” costume being slowly retired can only be a good thing for Star Wars in the long run. With Leia returning to the saga in The Force Awakens as a vital leader of the Resistance (aka, the good guys), most of the new toys and merch will want to play up the fact that she’s a soldier first. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that “Slave Leia” toys exist and that so many fans enjoy cosplaying in that outfit, but it  is a problem that it’s become the default version of the character in many instances. The narrative needs to be readjusted.

In any case, this is the kind of choice that gels with the saga’s new direction. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy hasn’t been shy about wanting to inject more diversity into the Star Wars universe and so far, she’s lived up to her word. The Force Awakens stars a woman and a black man. The upcoming Rogue One features an equally diverse ensemble. If Kennedy has her way, a woman will be helming a Star Wars movie very soon, and she’s smart and progressive enough to make it happen. The message is clear: the new Star Wars stories are for everyone, including girls. Your heroes are more than their metal bikinis.

I was recently in a big-box retailer and decided to swing through the toy section to see if the Star Wars toys were still as sold out as ever. They were. Except for the “Slave Leia” toys. They had a ton of those. And those will continue to linger even as Captain Phasma toys fly off the shelves. Welcome to the future. It looks awfully bright.

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