By Megan Bianco
With the news that original Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz passed away on Sept. 23, we’ve lost another mid-20th century blockbuster icon. It’s strange when multiple celebrities from one generation start dying off, as it truly feels like the end of an era. Most surprising to me were Carrie Fisher and Margot Kidder’s deaths.
They stood out because both had become active in their franchises’ legacies, particularly at fan conventions. Secondly, they really don’t seem that old by contemporary standards (aged 60 and 69 respectively). Since Fisher’s death, there have been countless stories told about how Princess Leia Organa from the 1977-83 period of the Star Wars franchise was a fan favorite. Not only from the obligatory fanboys who might have experienced their first crush, but also from female fans.
Princess Leia was for many movie viewers their first time seeing a damsel not only in distress, but who also knew how to work a gun (or blaster). She wasn’t afraid of danger and talked back to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo regularly. It was similar with Kidder’s Lois Lane of the original Superman movies from 1978-87. She’s genuinely funny and cute thanks to excellent timing and screenwriters like Robert Benton and Tom Mankiewicz.
And, of course, each had their share of sex appeal thanks to Fisher’s “slave Leia” costume in Return of the Jedi (1983) and Margot’s racy photoshoot for Partner Magazine during the Superman II (1980) press tour. But beyond their beauty and witty dialogue, each ended up setting a high standard for future love interests or female supporting characters in science-fiction film.
Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) was almost like a 1930s equivalent of Leia with her sass and no-nonsense. Lea Thompson’s Lorraine Baines McFly isn’t a particularly complex character in the Back to the Future trilogy (1985-90). But as Thompson has noted in interviews, it’s amusing to see a girl from the repressed 1950s as sex-obsessed.
All four ladies are usually a part of the same, overlapping fanbases as they’re not only from the same era, but also shared many of the same production crews. Fisher and Kidder were even friends in real life back in the day. Female fans who were inspired by Leia to aim for leadership positions were joined by girls who wanted to become journalists like Lois.
Had Leia, Lois and Marion not existed, who knows what would have influenced Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity from The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) or Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (2003-07).
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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