Our daughter Ella has always had a penchant for the darker characters. We theorize it may be because many of the bad guys are dramatic, intense and larger than life. It could be their costumes or their command of a room but whatever the reason she loves them.
Dark side Star Wars characters were not an exception. In 2015 as The Force Awakens merchandise started to unveil and Ella learned that Captain Phasma was indeed a women, she was completely taken over by the revelation. I knew that the movie would have a strong female character in Rey and to tell the truth, I was a bit disappointed that my daughter was not as excited about her as Phasma.
As parents, we were cautious about bringing a then almost five-year-old to the new Star Wars movie but going with other Geekling families was important to her and has since become a December tradition. After finally getting a look at Captain Phasma we like so many were left with a lot of questions. Ella came up with a theory that she was a double agent and actually helped in Finn’s escape. This theory came from her assessment of the story and who were we to argue, she just may be right.
So why is it a bit disarming to see our kids really get into dark characters? Looking back on forty years of Star Wars we have seen tons of kids in Darth Vader and Stormtrooper masks championing the dark side, blasting and waving light sabers. This next generation embraced Kylo Ren cosplay before the movie even opened. The new twist with Phasma is that up until now most the Star Wars female costumes were light side based. She isn’t a princess or a queen, she was something totally new for girls to dress as. I don’t think the general public was aware in those early pre movie release days that this new silver stormtrooper could be a woman,. I found Ella’s Phasma Halloween costume in the boys section of the store and tweeted to the costumer maker that it had been mislabeled as ‘boys’.
Ella’s choice in cosplaying a bad guy has opened up a great dialogue about good and bad, light side and dark. She has had to defend her choice and even had to convince naysayer playground friends that Captain Phasma is ‘a girl’. Ella feels equal and powerful under that chrome mask and seeing her stand up for herself and the character is a great thing to witness.
As with all things, there is change and there has already been a balance in the our family force. This happened after seeing The Last Jedi teaser trailer. Ella believes with all her little heart that Rey is indeed that Jedi. With this new revelation, she has become Team Rey these day. It may shift back to her choosing Captain Phasma’s as her part in the new movie emerges.
What we have decided as parents is to not to try to sway Ella in her choices of hero or bad guy worship. There will no doubt be many more conversations as she grows up about power, fairness and responsibility. If she does not fear the dark side, it may as our Jedi Masters teach us help her as she navigates real word struggles.
Let’s face it, the dark side often has totally fun costumes to cosplay.