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'Star Wars' Vicious Cycle: Female Character Hated, Redeemed, Loved (Rinse and Repeat)

Image credit: Legion-Media

There were Daisy Ridley's and Kelly Marie Tran's characters before there was Moses Ingram's Reva. Only this time – because third time's a charm, apparently – Lucasfilm finally did it right.

Reva's plot arc outside of the small screen is almost as exciting (and filled with twists and turns) as it is in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' itself. Moses Ingram's character was labeled flat and two-dimensional, hated, then redeemed, and, finally, loved, having had to go through some sort of a classic 3-acts story. If this was a movie, it could easily be titled something along the lines of "Female Character vs Star Wars Fandom: Episode III". But this isn't a movie; this is yet another somewhat scandalous story about Lucasfilm creators trying to welcome new and complex female characters into the 'Star Wars' fold – and fans hating them for it.

Episode I – The Fandom Menace

'Star Wars' fandom actually didn't have a lot of time to come to terms with Reva being introduced into the universe. While the official casting announcement by Lucasfilm came out in the spring of 2021, it was a year later when some of the details about Moses Ingram's character finally surfaced. And thus began another chapter in the long and sad history of racism in 'Star Wars' fandom.

In May 2022, the actress herself was actively bullied on social media, having received thousands of racist comments and messages. Even death threats were made towards her, and that's when the situation turned even uglier. A 'Kenobi' plot leak, suggesting that Reva's going to sacrifice herself to save Obi-Wan, left fans frustrated over yet another potential retcon of the 'Star Wars' lore. Hatred intensified to the point of the actress having to address the situation publicly.

"There's nothing anybody can do to stop this hate, and so I question what my purpose is in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening," Moses wrote on her Instagram.

Mere hours later official 'Star Wars', Disney+ and Lucasfilm accounts on various social media platforms issued statements supporting Moses Ingram, condemning those who send her hundreds of racist and misogynistic messages, and just plainly asking 'Star Wars' fans to "don't choose to be a racist."

And like it often happens, the angry fans mob solidified even more in attempts to defend themselves against racism accusations.

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Fan arguments on Twitter, Reddit and basically any other social media ranged from "It's not racist if the character's just poorly written" all the way to "We loved Mace Windu so we are not racist at all," with every shade of whataboutism in between. The list of Reva's shortcomings was (well, almost) longer than the list of complains about JJ's sequel trilogy, and the general rhetoric was along the lines of "these here are legitimate gripes, not racist and hurtful remarks."

Fans blamed it all on rather unfortunate writing and somewhat lacking acting, complaining how Reva's characterization didn't come across as intended. After all, in those first episodes Reva was introduced as the ruthless, ambitious, do-not-stand-in-my-way-or-I'll-literally-kill-you antagonist. And then it all just… wasn't really there for a lot of 'Star Wars' fans. They mentioned how Reva felt just plain rude and impulsive and ill-tempered to them, a cardboard cut-out of a villain without any actual depth or fearsomeness of a Big Bad With Evil Plans. And her dialogue didn't help much, according to some fans: it sounded rather flat, sometimes borderline on laughable.

Moreover: not just the character, but the actress herself came under fire too: 'Star Wars' fans accused her of "playing the 'I'm the victim' card" to shield herself against all the accusations of bad acting. According to some complains Ingram pretty much failed to convey strong emotion or at least make her character believable enough – all the more surprising given her great acting in 'The Queen's Gambit'.

So, the general consensus (at least in the corner of 'Star Wars' fandom willing to put up a fight against racism accusations made by Lucasfilm) was that Reva was just a boring character, nothing more, nothing less.

Be it subpar acting or a weak script, those fans who got used to undeniably iconic villains such as Darth Vader and Darth Maul just couldn't get behind a "normal woman with a normal voice" being the big villain of the 'Kenobi' series. Reva's characterization didn't win her any points, her actions were predictable and inconsistent (now that's a weird combo), her motivation somewhat lacking… And then it all changed suddenly.

Episode III – Revenge of the Script

You know that moment of epiphany when everything comes together and suddenly you feel like you've finally understood what's been happening all this time? Well, for 'Kenobi' fans the series finale was that very moment. Everything did finally come together, and it turned out that the screenplay wasn't all that bad; it was doing a pretty decent job in hiding Reva's true self and the motives behind everything she did.

What was earlier considered as some sort of unconvincing acting ended up actually making sense – after the finale's big reveal. All these scenes with Reva "trying too hard" and "sounding forced" suddenly got a valid enough explanation: turned out all this time Reva still cared about innocent people, forced to put on a show just to get close enough to Vader; what came off as cringey for many 'Star Wars' fans was actually intentional.

And isn't that what many of us want, to be entertained with "Oh, so that's what it was," to be maybe just a bit deceived only to find out the truth in an emotionally-charged finale of a story?

Well, at least some of 'Star Wars' fans ended up standing corrected and actually agreeing that the Moses Ingram's character wasn't a disaster the fandom made it out to be. Ingram's acting abilities, too, were re-evaluated, with fans finally admitting that, given some good material (like in the episodes 5 and 6) Moses Ingram really can deliver rather brilliantly. And that's how the third act of the "Female Character vs Star Wars Fandom: Episode III" got its satisfying enough ending.

Episode IV – A New Hope

They say that the secret of compelling storytelling lies, at least partly, in being able to flesh out, to acknowledge the change that characters went through. And it feels like this time – again, third time's a charm, apparently – the change was plenty. Lucasfilm finally did at least something right by introducing a female character with enough depth, complexity and solid backstory to silence – however slightly – toxic rhetoric of "It's not racist; it's just the character's poorly written so we're allowed to hate them."

Are Reva's character arc and motivation groundbreaking? No. Are they entertaining and thought-through enough for a mini-series? Yes, absolutely. And the way her story ended was satisfying enough to justify, say, a spin-off series in some distant future. If only because that vicious cycle where 'Star Wars' fans hate female characters and Lucasfilm creators fail, repeatedly, to do them justice and actually make them complex and three-dimensional, needs be disrupted.

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