“Men didn’t have problems with Leia”: Kathleen Kennedy Blames Male Star Wars Fanbase for Making the Franchise Toxic Despite Failing to Create a Single Likeable Female

As The Acolyte is set to make its premiere next week, Kathleen Kennedy has a take on why female characters haven’t been working in the Disney Star Wars era. Kennedy puts the blame on the toxic male fans of Star Wars who allegedly unleashed personal attacks on the actresses playing female characters. However, fans replied to Kennedy’s accusation sharing that Disney’s Star Wars has failed to create a single likeable female character.

“men didn’t have problems with leia”: kathleen kennedy blames male star wars fanbase for making the franchise toxic despite failing to create a single likeable female

Daisy Ridley in a still from Kathleen Kennedy’s Star Wars franchise | Lucasfilm Ltd

The Acolyte will feature Amandla Stenberg in the lead role as Mae, a former Padawan learner who becomes a dangerous warrior. The show will introduce several female characters and Kennedy’s comments have made fans doubt whether they are written well in the series.

Fans Counter Kathleen Kennedy Who Blames Male Fans For Making Star Wars Toxic

“men didn’t have problems with leia”: kathleen kennedy blames male star wars fanbase for making the franchise toxic despite failing to create a single likeable female

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in Kathleen Kennedy’s Star Wars franchise | Lucasfilm Ltd.

Kathleen Kennedy has some insights into the reception of female characters in Disney’s Star Wars projects during an interview for The New York Times. Kennedy spoke about the new female-led show from the galactic franchise, The Acolyte, along with showrunner Leslye Headland. The Lucasfilm President shared that women in the franchise struggle with the toxic fandom attacks.

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Kennedy shared that the Star Wars fandom is male-dominated. These fandoms often get personal with their attacks on the actresses who played these female characters. Kennedy shared that it was terrifying to operate within a giant franchise like Star Wars, where the actresses had to meet the expectations of such a toxic fandom. Kennedy shared with The New York Times:

I think a lot of the women who step into Star Wars struggle with [toxic fandom attacks] a bit more. Because of the fan base being so male dominated, they sometimes get attacked in ways that can be quite personal… Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation — it’s terrifying.

Fans did not agree with Kennedy’s claims and shared that it was not the problem of a toxic fandom but of poor writing. One fan shared that these toxic men had no problems with Carrie Fisher‘s Princess Leia because she was one of the only well-written female characters in the entire franchise. Another fan shared that the lackluster scripts did not help the talented actresses either.

The fan pointed out how Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico was sidelined in The Rise of Skywalker after her online harassment. One fan commented that Kennedy considered criticizing bad writing and bad acting as an attack as well. Another fan shared that Star Wars ruined Tran’s Rose and Moses Ingram’s Reva Sevander with bad writing. Some of the fan reactions read:

As fans suggested, there’s still a chance of recovering some of these female characters in the franchise. Daisy Ridley‘s Rey is getting another shot at leading the franchise and the filmmakers should make sure to deliver the best for her character, learning from the mistakes in the trilogy. Fans really hope that The Acolyte could also deliver some well-written female characters.

The Acolyte Showrunner Found One Inspiration That Kathleen Kennedy Wanted Nothing To Do With

“men didn’t have problems with leia”: kathleen kennedy blames male star wars fanbase for making the franchise toxic despite failing to create a single likeable female

Amandla Stenberg in a still from The Acolyte | Disney+ & Lucasfilm Ltd

The Acolyte hired Netflix’s Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland to serve as the showrunner. Headland took inspiration from the most unlikeliest place that Kathleen Kennedy had erased from Star Wars. Headland shared in an interview with StarWars.com that she adapted some elements of her series from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

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Kathleen Kennedy de-canonized the SWEU when Disney took over the franchise to allow more creative freedom for the new directors. It was a list of Star Wars material other than George Lucas‘s films and The Clone Wars animated series. Headland shared about using those materials in The Acolyte with StarWars.com:

There’s also some EU lore that I decided to put in because I thought it was so cool and no one told me I couldn’t.

Longtime fans would be able to relive the lore of the Extended Universe in some form in the new series. The first season of The Acolyte will premiere on Disney+ on June 4, 2024.

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