The final chapter of the epic Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker, finally hits theaters this week, and although there are so many questions about what becomes of the many characters we've grown to love over the past four decades, there's also something many LGBTQ+ fans of the franchise are begging to finally know: do we exist in a galaxy far, far away?
WARNING: MAJOR STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Picking up a year after where 2017's The Last Jedi left off, The Rise of Skywalker starts with the Resistance (or what's left of it) still recovering from their last encounter with the First Order under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke. Using the most diabolical forces of the Dark Side, the infamous Emperor Palpatine has mysteriously re-emerged back to life as the leader of the Sith and is planning, once again, to completely take over the galaxy and put a permanent end to the Jedi. Without spoiling too much, the rest of the movie focuses mostly on our main hero Rey (Daisy Ridley), the last known Jedi and de facto face of the Resistance, as she tries to put an end to the Emperor's wicked plot despite attempts by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to lure her to the Dark Side.
Though they were mostly kept apart in the two previous Star Wars films, Rey also finally gets to team up with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on an urgent Resistance mission, and their dynamic feels a lot like the beloved friendship between Luke, Leia, and Han Solo. Of course, many Star Wars fans know that ever since they were introduced to us in 2015's The Force Awakens, viewers wanted more than just friendship between Finn and Poe.
So will The Rise of Skywalker give loyal FinnPoe shippers and LGBTQ+ Star Wars fans the queer romance and representation we've been desperately wanting for the past 42 years? Yes and no.
In the climax of the film, a celebratory kiss is exchanged between two minor Resistance characters who both happen to be women. While I admit I was pleasantly surprised to see said kiss (my friend and I loudly gay-gasped the moment it happened at the press screening we went to), it was literally a blink-and-you-miss-it moment that, unfortunately, wasn't really anything substantial. Yes, it's nice that queerness was finally explicitly shown in a billion-dollar, Disney-owned property, and yes, it's nice that LGBTQ+ folks finally got acknowledged in a vast universe of all sorts of diverse, intergalactic beings—I just wish we could have received a little more than a short smooch towards the final act of the final film in the Skywalker saga. (It felt like writers JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio took a page out of The Legend of Korra's playbook, but I digress...)
And while we did get a speck (not a crumb, a speck) of LGBTQ+ rep, it wasn't from Finn and Poe, the two characters fans have been feverishly shipping together for years. In fact, it feels like The Rise of Skywalker goes out of its way to reinforce the notion that Finn and Poe aren't a thing, despite their actors John Boyega and Oscar Isaac even admitting their two characters have chemistry and that they wished they could have explored that more on screen. In the film, Poe is given a love interest in the new character Zorii (Keri Russell), and the fling between Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn is really played up, especially during dramatic, emotional moments in the final battle with the Sith. The decision to make two unimportant background characters queer felt like such a waste, especially since more of an impact would have been made if two main characters, especially ones with as much chemistry as Finn and Poe had their queerness confirmed in canon.
Despite these problems, The Rise of Skywalker didn't do anything that other films and TV shows haven't, shoehorning a small but pleasant queer moment in wherever was convenient. Is too little, too late? Oh yeah. Is it something that LGBTQ+ pop culture fans are already used to? Unfortunately.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.