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George Lucas Fired Back At Critics Who Think Star Wars Is 'All White Men'

George Lucas has never been one to mince words, and while accepting an honorary Palme d'Or at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival on May 24, he was quite honest about certain complaints about the first six films in the "Star Wars" saga centering white, male characters. "They would say, 'It's all white men.' Most of the people are aliens! The idea is you're supposed to accept people for what they are, whether they're big and furry or whether they're green or whatever. The idea is all people are equal," Lucas said (per Variety).

Lucas proceeded to defend the franchise's track record, bringing up a number of main, supporting and background characters which have existed in the universe going all the way back to "A New Hope." "In the first one, there were a few Tunisians who were dark, and in the second one I had Billy Williams, and the [prequels], which they were also criticizing, I had Sam Jackson. He wasn't a scoundrel like Lando. He was one of the top Jedi."

While he's willing to defend the franchise's record on how it portrays women and non-white characters, Lucas did note that one group of sentient beings are discriminated against in the "Star Wars" universe.

Only robots are discriminated against in the Star Wars Saga

George Lucas told the audience at his Cannes speech that only one group of sentient beings are discriminated against in the "Star Wars" universe: droids. And it was a deliberate gesture intended to make a pointed remark about prejudice.

"That was a way of saying, you know, people are always discriminating against something and sooner or later, that's what's going to happen," he said. "I mean, we're already starting with AI, saying, 'Well, we can't trust those robots.'" One wonders if he's read "Star Wars: Dark Droids."

Lucas is very passionate about the importance of female characters in the "Star Wars" saga and believes that the strength of characters like Princess Leia Organa ("Star Wars" legend Carrie Fisher) and Queen Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman, who's open to returning to her role) are vital to the universe's general story. "Who do you think the heroes are in these stories? What do you think Princess Leia was? She's the head of the rebellion," Lucas said, citing examples at how in the original films Leia was the one running the show. "And it's the same thing with Queen Amidala. You can't just put a woman in pants and expect her to be a hero. They can wear dresses, they can wear whatever they want. It's their brains and their ability to think and plan and be logistical. That's what the hero is," he concluded.

The "Star Wars" universe — and the concept of hat makes a heroic character in that world — continues to expand with "Star Wars: The Acolyte" set to begin streaming on Disney+ on June 4.