The Rebel Alliance now seems a little bit less like a galactic Boys Club.
The final battle against the Death Star in “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi” (1983) used to have a bit more of a woman’s touch as it’s been revealed that there were actually three female Rebel pilots taking on TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers as they waited for Han Solo and the gang to blow up the shield generator bunker on Endor (ah, old war stories!).
There were three unnamed lady pilots in “Jedi,” two of which can be seen in the extras for the Blu-ray release of the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Both of them were A-Wing pilots, with one even getting a line (“Got it,” which was actually dubbed by a male actor in post-production) before getting shot down by a TIE Fighter seconds later. The second pilot is, surprisingly, considerably older … and could now indeed be the inspiration for a new wave of fan fiction (she’s a retired Rebel vet who’s allowed to come back for one last hurrah against the Empire after being deemed too old for duty during the Battle of Yavin in “A New Hope,” perhaps?).
There was a third female pilot in the Battle of Endor as well. French actress Vivienne Chandler didn’t make it into the Blu-ray extras, even though she spent three days on the “Jedi” set and had an entire line of dialogue between herself and another pilot. She also got to fly the much more iconic X-Wing, the ship of choice for her Rebel colleague, Luke Skywalker. Even though actual footage of her in full Rebel mode doesn’t seem to exist, she’s managed to stay a part of the “Star Wars” universe as she’s now a staple on the convention circuit.
There’s been no official explanation as to why these characters were cut, though fan speculation suggests that the filmmakers may have deemed the sight of ladies getting blown to smithereens to be too intense for moviegoers … especially when one could pass for your grandmother.
We have a feeling a lot of the Rebellion’s apparent gender discrimination will have dissolved in time for “Episode VII.” “Star Wars” needs women, and “Star Wars” will get them if Disney has anything to say about it.