Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Justice for Rose Tico

And Kelly Marie Tran
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There were good things and bad things in The Rise of Skywalker. There were elements that were nice in theory but ultimately hollow and unsatisfying (ladies kissing) and there were elements that I didn’t expect to love as much as I did and were thus surprising and satisfying (Ben Solo). There are things we can argue over and excuse and things we can love, but one element of the film is an undeniable failure: The treatment of Rose Tico.

Rose Tico was practically erased in The Rise of Skywalker and honestly, it’s something director JJ Abrams and screenwriter Chris Terrio should be ashamed of. (Chris Terrio had a hand in the terrible Batman v. Superman and Justice League scripts so I assume he doesn’t feel shame). What happened to Rose in this movie isn’t just disappointing, it’s hurtful and unjust.

Rose was the best element of The Last Jedi (yeah I said it) because she showed something no other Star Wars character before her had: what the resistance and the rebellion were fighting for. She was the voice of the people that actually suffered under the First Order and the Empire and she represented the kind of hope and goodness that was the true spark to light the fire of the resistance. She was amazing.

Kelly Marie Train as Rose Tico piloting a ship in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Rose also made people mad, just by virtue of being a woman of color that spoke out against the unfair status quo of her fantasy world, but also against ours. She stood for so much. And so, of course, the worst, most racist and misogynistic parts of fandom hated her and attacked her and the actress that played her, Kelly Marie Tran. Rose was the best of this franchise and the people that hated her and went after the actress personally were the worst. And this movie gave those trolls a win by reducing her role. It hurts.

It’s not just that Rose’s role in The Rise of Skywalker was non-existent, it was the way she was erased. I understand that Abrams might have felt handicapped in the resistance base scenes because he couldn’t use Leia much, but that’s the exact reason why there should have been some kind of subplot there so the resistance could have … mattered? Having something going on back at the base would also have helped the relentless and exhausting pacing of the first half of the film.

It wasn’t just Rose that suffered here. Dominic Monaghan was just … there. On the one hand, he was pointlessly taking lines that could have been Rose’s but on the other, this was a waste of a great actor (not a new move for a Star War). Hell, we could have had an actual plot for the resistance lesbians too! The choice to ignore Rose and the resistance made the whole movie worse along with giving the worst voices in fandom something to crow about.

Rose tice and Rey in rise of skywalker

Rose could have been great on the main mission too. If they were so committed to getting women with Finn and Poe to confirm they were red-blooded space heterosexuals, why not pick up the thread of Rose and Finn’s bond from The Last Jedi? Why not create some tension there with Finn and his obvious feelings for Rey? Why not give Rey a female friend?

I’m so sad at the way Kelly Marie Tran and Rose were treated in this film. They deserved so much more because Rose was a hero we truly needed and deserved. But luckily, we still have The Last Jedi and Kelly still has so many people that love and adore her, including Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

If I take any hope from this it’s that Kelly is an incredibly talented actress and wonderful person and I hope Rian Johnson makes an entire movie around her as is only just and she has a long and amazing career in front of her. We’ll be the first in line to applaud for her next project.

Rose Tico didn’t get the story she deserved but we still love her and Kelly. And so even with this loss, we’re hanging on to that. Because that’s the way we’re going to win, not focusing on what we hate, but saving the things we love.

(image: LucasFilm)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.