Finn, John Boyega’s AWOL stormtrooper, has been acknowledged as one of the leads in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, but a poster released in China has stirred up some controversy by shrinking the character substantially — very substantially.
In the new poster (contrasted with the U.S. version above), Boyega seems more like an afterthought than one of the stars of the film, tucked away in the corner between Han’s blaster and an enlarged BB-8. ScreenCrush reports that the character was downsized by more than 50 percent for the new poster, and some are suspecting that it may be due to the color of his skin.
While the poster does make other changes — like removing Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), and Chewbacca entirely — that tiny little image of Finn looms the largest.
In a vacuum, it might seem like folks are overreacting, but this is just one of many troubling signs that race is still a factor in the movie business. Some of the emails uncovered in last year’s Sony hack, for instance, contained discussions which acknowledged that films with black lead actors don’t seem to do as well in certain foreign markets.
In addition, Yahoo points out that Lionsgate recalled marketing material for 12 Years a Slave after Italian posters highlighted Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender at the expense of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played the main character in the film.
Seems like this sort of thing is becoming a trend, and a disturbing one at that.
In today’s movie market, the international box office tends to account for the majority of domestic blockbusters’ overall gross, a reality that has already had an effect on marketing materials, and may be encouraging less principled executives to rethink casting black actors in major roles.
We can only hope that, in the future, studios respond to racial prejudice as firmly and gracefully as Boyega himself did when faced with backlash over his casting in The Force Awakens. Said the actor via Instagram “To whom it may concern … Get used to it.”