"In the case of the LGBTQ community, it was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film," Abrams told Variety, explaining that he wanted Star Wars to look "more the way the world looks than not."
"I'm giving away nothing about what happens," he said. "But I did just say what I just said."
Now that Rise of Skywalker is in theaters, though, we can give it away. And while the representation is (unfortunately) not all that integral to the plot of the movie and thus, no major spoilers follow, here is your minor spoiler warning.
The LGBTQ character is Commander Larma D'Acy (played by Amanda Lawrence), first introduced in The Last Jedi as the right-hand woman to Laura Dern's Vice Admiral Holdo. She has a single line in this movie -- informing Finn and Poe of some Resistance news -- then during a celebratory scene later on, is glimpsed sharing a kiss with a female pilot.
In truth, it was probably never going to be Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), as many fans and Isaac himself wanted. ("I kind of hoped and wished that maybe that would've been taken further," he said.) But Rise of Skywalker also introduces a new character played by Keri Russell and makes enough room for her to establish a flirtatious relationship with Poe, so it would have been nice had more cinematic real-estate been committed to the movie's historic LGBTQ representation than a blink-and-you-miss-it kiss in a wide shot featuring a fourth-tier character.
(Which is no disrespect to Commander D'Arcy. Obviously, we stan.)
And ultimately, the kiss is historic -- in so much as a same-sex kiss happened for the first time in Star Wars -- and delivers on its promise more than the "exclusively gay moment" in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast. But it's not exactly the win the community was hoping for, either, considering other strides Abrams and co. made to increase representation in this trilogy.
Is this a case of a director over-hyping something and expectations going unmet? Or are LGBTQ people only palatable in the Star Wars verse when it's profitable but also easily excisable when it hurts their bottom line? Representation always matters, and this is a small step in the right direction; but hopefully the next will be a large leap.