Stormpilot: It’s the fandom pairing of the decade! And it just might come true.
“Girl, please,” you might be saying, but just listen to me! Not only could it happen, but if it does, it’ll change the game forever (and in a good way.) First let’s get into the timeline. Keep in mind: the timeline is intense. Let’s get into it:
• The Lip Bite
Stormpilot fandom all got started when Poe bit his lip and let Finn keep that now infamous jacket (a jacket I’d love to just wear as a regular wardrobe staple, and I don’t even get down with everyday cosplay like that):
• The term “Stormpilot” is created by Tumblr user palizinhas.
The alternate name for the pairing, FinnPoe, comes into play after some felt like the term “Stormpilot” robbed Finn of any personal agency; Poe chose to become a fighter pilot, but Finn never chose to become a Stormtrooper, so some felt like having Finn associated with being a Stormtrooper was being unfair. (But the fact is that he was as Stormtrooper regardless, and he did choose later to not be a Stormtrooper. But this is an argument for another article.) Sites and blogs, such as E! Online, Buzzfeed, Hypable, Vanity Fair, USA Today, Metro, Pink News, Comic Book Resources, The Mary Sue, Bleeding Cool, and MoviePilot (and many more) start showcasing Stormpilot every chance they get, making Stormpilot one of the rare fandom pairings that receive major mainstream attention.
• John Boyega interviews with Shortlist.
When asked about the possibility of Stormpilot becoming real, Boyega, laughingly, shuts it down. “It’s so not true. Oscar [Isaac] wishes it was, though,” he said. “[I]t’s all in his head. It’s a brotherly love, a bromance, that’s for sure.” But he did lend credence to theory that Isaac was actually addressing Poe’s possible crush on Finn when he, Boyega, and Daisy Ridley sat down with Ellen. “I think it’s very subtle romance that’s happening,” said Isaac. “You have to look very closely. You have to watch it a few times, to see the hints. …At least I was playing romance. In the cockpit…there was a deep romance there.” Of course, he could have easily been joking about working with his on-screen buddy BB-8. But fans took this to mean that Isaac’s reading of Poe had the character flirting with the only other person who’s been in a cockpit with him, Finn.
• Rian Johnson’s twitter
Episode VIII director Rian Johnson retweets a Stormpilot photo on his Twitter page, lending substance to the theory that Johnson could be courting the Stormpilot idea.https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/687503266121297924
(As an aside: this meme always gets me going about one segment of the Stormpilot fandom I don’t like. Don’t let me get started on how some of the Stormpilot fandom live to fridge Rey from relationships just because some see her as a threat to Finn and Poe’s possible relationship. Like, Rey doesn’t have to be an avatar for the fans who want Finn and Poe together. She can be her own person without any of her personality or actions centering around who her friend dates. Framing her around Stormpilot is removing any character development she could have. Moving on.)
• The Episdoe VIII Rewrite
A few days later, it’s reported that the Episode VIII script is getting rewrites (along with getting pushed back to a Dec. 15, 2017 release date). It was theorized that a new female character was probably going to be a love interest (possibly for Finn). Not only did the new character’s role get scaled back, but Finn, Poe, and Rey are now getting bumped up. According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit:
Obviously the December date worked out very (very) well for them but I've also heard they are rewriting the script.— Borys Kit (@Borys_Kit) January 20, 2016
I've heard from several sources the rewrites are positive, based on audience reaction to the new characters. People loved them.— Borys Kit (@Borys_Kit) January 20, 2016
So strongly. And Lucasfilm was surprised at how well they were received, according to several sources.— Borys Kit (@Borys_Kit) January 20, 2016
•John Boyega interviews with Radio Times.
Boyega later becomes suspiciously coy about Stormpilot in another interview.
“…[A]s far as I’m concerned, when JJ [Abrams] sat down to go through the script, it was a bromance. But now I’m learning what Mark Hamill said before when he didn’t know that Darth Vader was Luke’s father: you never know what they’re going to pull. I’m looking at the director Rian [Johnson] closely so he can get me involved early, so I can prepare myself. So who knows?” Radio Times also confirms that Johnson “is taking into account fan-led ideas for the latest film[.]”
• J.J. Abrams confirms that gay characters will be a part of the Star Wars movie universe.
“Of course!” said Abrams at the US-Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde Awards (as reported by The Daily Beast).
“When I talk inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course. …To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counter intuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
• Mark Hamill thrills fans (and shocks a few others) when he addresses Luke’s sexuality.
According to The Sun:
“…[F]ans are writing and ask all these questions, ‘I’m bullied in school…I’m afraid to come out.’ They say to me, ‘Could Luke be gay?’ I’d say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer… If you think Luke is gay, of course he is. You should not be ashamed of it. Judge Luke by his character, not by who he loves.”
While this doesn’t relate to Finn and Poe directly, it does set the groundwork for a much more accepting Star Wars landscape (and it’s probably news that was released in the hopes to soften up some of the more homophobic fans).
• Boyega teases fans while discussing if he’d be #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan:
All those cities destroyed by villains not heroes. #teamcap— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 11, 2016
Knowing black panther... I hope he hasn't chosen a side because that would be interesting— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 11, 2016
If I'm in a burning building I hope iron man doesn't have to wait for his badge to come through the post before he saves me. #teamcap— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 11, 2016
Anyway above all #teampoe— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 11, 2016
So now that we have the chronology, what does the timeline mean for the fandom? Or, a more pressing question that needs answering: What does a possible Stormpilot-laden Episode VIII mean for the fandom, in particularly a part of the fandom that has felt misrepresented or nonexistent by the media in general?
If Stormpilot becomes canon, it would send shockwaves, SHOCKWAVES, throughout the fandom, and throughout other fandoms and other media companies. How? Here’s how.
Disney would have put other companies on notice with their courage (or just general human decency) to put fans’ desires above the fear of losing money. Disney has touted their love of equality as a reason folks should visit their parks (what with their LGBT-themed days), and their shows (ABC has been doing well courting LGBT viewers with their Shonda Rhimes-led TGIT lineup and their new Tuesday comedy The Real O’Neals, and ABC Family — now turned FreeForm — has successfully courted a young, socially and culturally-aware market with shows like The Fosters, Pretty Little Liars, and Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments). But Disney’s movies could use some work.
After researching GLAAD’s film audits for one of my articles for COLORBLOCK Magazine, I found that 51 out of 317 roles between 2012 and 2014 are LGBT, and even then, many of the characters are white and gay. When LGBT characters are shown in film, they’re generally in comedies as the gay best friend, sassy secretary/retail salesman/event planner. Just take a look at that one hairdresser from Legally Blonde, the one who goes “The Bend-and-Snap! Works every time!” Or Martin Short’s Franck Eggelhoffer from Father of the Bride, or Adrien Brody’s Sam from the awfully-titled Baggage Claim, or Frank Azaria’s Agador in The Birdcage. (I know The Birdcage is a comedy anyways, and even a comedy I like. But if you want to get really serious, Nathan Lane’s Albert Goldman from the same movie could also be considered a gay stereotype as well.)
Otherwise, they’re shown in a tragic light, such as Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Lola from Kinky Boots, a drag queen who recounts her father disowning her for being a boy in drag and not a championship boxer. The character is also used as a device to open Joel Edgerton’s Charlie up into a more well-rounded character and to set him up with one of his employees, Lauren (played by Sarah-Jane Potts). Meanwhile, Lola never gets his own happy ending when it comes to relationships, but he does get a piece of the new Kinky Boots industry. Or, take a look at Chi Chi from To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Chi Chi is the character who gets the romantic storyline, but she has to give up her love, a small-town young man, because 1.) she was misleading him into thinking she was a biological woman and 2.) Vida (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema (Wesley Snipes) basically tell her that drag queens don’t typically get romantic happy endings.
If Disney goes the extra mile and actually creates Stormpilot as a canonical relationship, then Disney will have set the bar high for other media studios when it comes to showcasing LGBT relationships. Having a same-sex relationship in a sci-fi film (a genre which hasn’t been friendly to LGBT characters), and having that same-sex relationship be a non-white interracial one, would be a balm to a group of fans who feel like they haven’t been properly represented in film, much less the media as a whole. On top of that, Disney might be able to increase their financial returns with Stormpilot.https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/679088384875302916
Conventional wisdom suggests that Disney could refuse to introduce same-sex characters because countries such as China, which has been vehemently against same-sex relationships and LGBT recognition, could decide to refuse Episode VIII and any future Star Wars films. However, even China is changing; their courts had geared up to having their first case regarding same-sex marriage; it’s still unclear as to when the case will actually be heard (because it was delayed for unclear reasons). But the fact that the case has even gotten to this point marks a change in China, and eventually, China will have to realize that they’ll have to tolerate (not agree with, but tolerate) other countries’ acceptance (or tolerance) of LGBT people and relationships in order to increase business relations, especially since China’s Alibaba Pictures and Wanda Group and other studios are buying American production companies and playing a much larger role in Hollywood.
A canon Stormpilot would mean that a part of the fandom that’s remained on the fringes is finally getting some respect. The reason fandom pairings like Stormpilot and ABC’s Agent Carter’s #Cartinelli (Peggy Carter and Angie Martinelli) exist is because either the media doesn’t showcase loving, well-adjusted LGBT relationships or, when they do show them, it involves some trope B.S. Case-in-point, the Lexa situation on CW’s The 100.
Lexa and Clarke were two characters who were in a same-sex relationship on the popular post-apocalyptic show. The 100 seemed like it was was well-aware of the responsibility it had when it came to featuring same-sex relationships, and it seemed like they reveled in that responsibility. But recently, The 100 killed Lexa off. The real reason she was killed off was because Alycia Debham-Carey’s role on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead was interfering with The 100. But the way in which she was killed off, directly after consummating her relationship with Clarke, smacks largely of the trope of the tragic gay character, the character who can’t have a happy ending because she’s not a straight woman.
I interviewed a few Stormpilot fans about how they felt about the media’s response to the fandom, and the consensus was pleasure that their fandom was getting recognized by major media outlets, but also reticence. Since LGBT fandoms have stayed on the fringes, some fear that their fandom will eventually be made fun of by the mainstream and not taken seriously by other fans, not to mention Disney itself.
“Many LGBTQ+ people like myself enjoy queer pairings because we just don’t get them that often in mainstream media. It feels good to see characters that reflect our own sexuality off on adventures. …I’m elated to see that a slash ship is getting generally positive coverage. It helps legitimze LGBTQ+ relationships in general, and it makes possible for more visibility going forward,” said The Geekiary’s writer who goes by the pen name of “Angel.” “On the other hand, we don’t exactly have the best track record with mainstream press understanding fandom culture. It often feels like we are being gawked at, made fun of, or just outright misrepresented. I’m really grateful that, so far, we haven’t had any coverage that’s treated us poorly. With any luck, we won’t and all of my worrying will be for naught.”
If Stormpilot finally came to pass, it would certainly steer Disney in a 21st century direction, but it would also bring much needed legitimacy to the fandom culture that’s deemed “fringe” by the mainstream. The reason fans create their own same-sex (or slash) parings is because they feel they can represent their favorite pairings better than those who have been put in charge. In general, the fans are much more aware of the issues they want addressed and the tropes they want avoided. Stormpilot becoming canon is one thing, but Disney actually listening to what the fans want from Stormpilot is an entirely other thing. Fans’ respect will be earned if Disney proves they’re actually listening to what their fans want.
In any event, the fans have the tailwinds in their favor; tons of sites, big and small, have championed the idea of Stormpilot becoming canon. Or, if they haven’t “championed” it, per se, they certainly know the pairing’s popularity will earn them tons of clicks. With everyone talking about Stormpilot, the ball is in Disney’s court. Do they ignore the dozens upon dozens of blogs and sites and fans who want Finn to be more than Poe’s “buddy” (to use Poe’s own words), or do they actually listen to the groundswell and go for it? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Header llustration by Jones