John Boyega joins a galaxy far far away
It was one the biggest movie events of the year- and it was only a teaser trailer. In the US, people bought tickets to other films just to see it minutes earlier than on the internet. Some of the biggest websites crashed under the traffic load of millions of movie fans jamming F5 on their keyboards. But this is all part and parcel to a new Star Wars film.
Yes, the first footage of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ was debuted online and in select US cinemas last week in an internet stopping moment of pure pop culture. There were many stand-out moments that sent even the most casual fans back to their childhoods including: an x-wing race across the sea, a hilted lightsaber and the glorious return of Millennium Falcon.
For me though, what I came away thinking about most was young John Boyega. Boyega, a 22 year old born in London to Nigerian parents was previously best (only?) known for his role in 2011’s British monster movie ‘Attack the Block’. Now he has suddenly become one of the most famous people in the world, his brief performance being viewed on YouTube more than 20 million times in 24 hours.
As an admirer of his work in ‘Attack the Block’ I felt happy for this person whose career I’ve followed, to suddenly blow up. But what hit me even harder is that the first new footage in eight years of the mainline Star Wars saga, one of the biggest most iconic movie franchises of ever, opened with a young black kid from Peckham.
The Star Wars franchise is somewhat notorious for its lack of black characters. Other than Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian and Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu space seemed to be a lot more diverse in alien species and robots then it did in race. By opening with this footage (which has now, inevitably, become a meme) director JJ Abrams is clearly trying steer the franchise away from these thoughts and make everyone feel included in this universe.
Boyega is said to play a major role in this film which releases in December next year. So we still have a while before we find out why this black British storm trooper is panicked in the middle of the desert, but the diversity on show (futher bolstered by the casting of Lupita Nyong’o) has certainly ‘awakened’ my interest in the force once more. Naturally, not everyone is happy about this new age of Star Wars inclusivity, hard-core fans are often resistant to change, but writing on his Instagram seem ready for any negativity, and gave the perfect response:
‘I’m in the movie but as a star wars fan I am very excited! A year is a long wait’ ‘To whom it may concern….
Get used to it. :)’.
‘Stars Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ opens nationwide in theatres on the 18th of December 2015.