On International Women’s Day of all days, Lucasfilm issued a press release naming “Iron Man” helmer Jon Favreau as the newest filmmaker to join the “Star Wars” ranks, named an executive producer and writer of the live-action TV series set to debut on Disney’s streaming service. This announcement and its decidedly poor timing have received backlash from fans wondering why no women, or person of color, has been hired to helm a “Star Wars” project.
Per the official announcement, Favreau will be developing the series for Disney’s new “direct-to-consumer platform” — aka Disney’s own personal version of Netflix, which it has been developing for launch in 2019.
Favreau’s hiring doesn’t come as a surprise, given his history with Disney. He directed the first two entries in the ‘Iron Man’ trilogy, directed the ‘Jungle Book’ and is currently directing the live-action remake of ‘The Lion King’. But the fact that Disney and Lucasfilm have yet to give a non-white man the opportunity to spearhead a “Star Wars” project on any sort of creative level cannot be ignored.
In the official announcement of his hiring Lucasfilms’ President Kathleen Kennedy didn’t ignore this problem:
“This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base,” she said as part of her statement. Theoretically, Jon Favreau could include an inclusion rider that would help diversify the cast, writers, directors and other crew members.
Since the Disney purchase in 2012, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has hired a variety of filmmakers to helm “Star Wars” projects. J.J. Abrams (twice), Rian Johnson, Colin Trevorrow, Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Josh Trank, Ron Howard, Gareth Edwards (and perhaps Tony Gilroy), David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and now, Jon Favreau. That’s 12 filmmakers in 6 years, and each one of them is a white man. As they say, two is a coincidence; there’s a trend…and 12 is, well, problematic to say the least.
It’s great that Kennedy and Lucasfilm are promising that a diverse team will be involved with the new series. But change comes from the top, and as the Color of Change report noted last year, “white showrunners tend to exclude Black writers, with 69 percent of white showrunner shows having no Black writers at all.”
There’s a major sea change in the air and “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman” are just two shining examples of what kinda of creative and financial success can be wrought through allowing diverse voices to tell their stories.