Captain Phasma

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Captain Phasma
Star Wars character
Captain Phasma.jpg
First appearance The Force Awakens (2015)
Created by J. J. Abrams
Portrayed by Gwendoline Christie
Voiced by Gwendoline Christie
(Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Ellen Dubin
(Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises)[1]
Helen Sadler (Star Wars Battlefront II)[2]
Designed by Michael Kaplan
Information
Gender Female
Occupation Stormtrooper commander
Affiliation First Order

Captain Phasma is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise, portrayed by Gwendoline Christie. Introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Phasma is the commander of the First Order's force of stormtroopers. Christie confirmed that the character would reappear in the next of the trilogy's films, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the character also made an additional appearance in Before the Awakening, an anthology book set before the events of The Force Awakens.

J. J. Abrams created Phasma from an armor design originally developed for Kylo Ren and named her after the 1979 horror film Phantasm. The character was originally conceived as male before being changed to female. Phasma appeared prominently in promotion and marketing for The Force Awakens, but the character's ultimately minor role in the film was the subject of criticism. Nonetheless, merchandise featuring the character found success and her figure was the bestselling of all Force Awakens action figures on Amazon.co.uk.[3]

Concept and creation[edit]

Gwendoline Christie portrays Phasma in the films

The character's creation was inspired by a rejected design for Kylo Ren.[4] Costume designer Michael Kaplan came up with the concept of Kylo being "the Lord of the Stormtroopers, in bright shining silver armor".[5] Kaplan had a strong image in his head of what this concept should look like, which concept artist Dermot Power turned into an illustration,[5] this image, however, was immediately denied by director J. J. Abrams. Later, producer Kathleen Kennedy found the design, reacting positively and calling it "fantastic".[5] Abrams then used the design to create a new character, Phasma,[5] he named Phasma after the 1979 horror film Phantasm because her armor reminded him of the film's spheres.[4][6] Kaplan intended for the visuals of the First Order to contrast with that of the Resistance, appearing in colors like "black, teal blue, and steel gray", with stormtroopers being updated to be more simplified and modernized. Kaplan designed the character believing it would be "extremely cool" to have a silver armored character in the film.[7]

The character was not originally conceived as a woman, but rather was changed from male to female during casting, less than three weeks before principal shooting began.[8] Phasma thereby became the second on-screen female Star Wars villain,[9] after Zam Wesell,[10] with Captain Phasma, the filmmakers wished to "push the boundaries" of traditional roles for female characters.[9]

Actress Gwendoline Christie, who had previously played Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones, was first officially confirmed as Captain Phasma in a Vanity Fair spread released May 4, 2015,[11] following its leak.[12] Christie fought heavily to appear in the film, continually insisting her agent get her a part in it.[13] Christie was not aware that the character was originally a man.[8] Christie took inspiration from her armor—"it's very high-functioning, it's very imposing and it's not malleable at all"—in how to play the character; in playing Phasma, Christie felt encouraged to experiment more with the gesture of a character.[9][14]

Phasma's armor took Christie roughly forty-five minutes to put on.[15]

Character[edit]

The commander of the First Order's stormtroopers, Captain Phasma is described as a "tough veteran commander" and one of a "commanding triumvirate" of the First Order alongside Kylo Ren and General Hux.[16] Christie compared Phasma to Boba Fett in the sense of being a character who, while not "at the forefront of the action all the time", still has "a lot of impact",[9][17] the actress called the character "a malevolent force" who takes pleasure in her cruelty, something she attributed to a perceived difficult journey to becoming the only female stormtrooper of rank.[15] To contrast with other stormtroopers in the franchise, Christie portrayed Phasma with both some femininity and sassiness.[15] Glen Robert Gill, writing for Bright Lights Film Journal, saw Phasma as "the demonic or negative emanation of the maidenly anima".[18]

Phasma is depicted wearing salvaged chromium armor,[16] which in The Force Awakens' visual dictionary is established as coming from a Naboo yacht once owned by Palpatine.[19] It is said to serve "primarily as a symbol of past power".[19] Christie recognised the character's helmet as both being futuristic and having medieval elements.[15] Chris Laverty, creator of costume analysis site Clothes on Film, called her armor "probably the most regal costume" in The Force Awakens, and noted it as a reflection of her status, he also felt her cloak, "elegantly slung over one shoulder", was a method of humanizing the character.[20] In-universe, the cloak is the "traditional cape of First Order command".[19] Gill felt her armor called to mind mirrors, symbols of "self-reflection and self-examination", the feelings she brings in Finn when she inadvertently helps inspire him to defect.[18]

Appearances[edit]

In film[edit]

The second trailer for the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced the character; in the film, Phasma begins engaged in an attack on a village in search of coordinates that will lead to the missing Luke Skywalker. After the battle is won, Phasma and the other stormtroopers execute the villagers at the order of Kylo Ren. Back on the First Order's base, she orders Stormtrooper Finn to report to reconditioning. Instead, Finn flees and betrays the Order in favor of the Resistance. When Finn, Han Solo, and Chewbacca infiltrate the base further in the film, they take Phasma hostage and force her to remove the base's shields, before dropping her in the trash compactor. Later on in the film, the base is destroyed.

Phasma will also appear in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[9]

In other media[edit]

Before the Awakening, a prequel anthology, features the character in a short story centered around Finn. In it, she monitors Finn's performance in combat simulation and, although praising his skill, she criticizes his rescuing of a weaker soldier. Additionally, Phasma is featured in both the adult and junior novelizations of The Force Awakens, the Lego Star Wars version of Phasma also appears in the 2016 short form animated series Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises.[21][22][23][24] She is also a playable character and boss in the Lego video game adaptation of The Force Awakens.

In the lead-up to The Last Jedi's release, Phasma's backstory was explored in Star Wars: Phasma, a novel by Delilah S. Dawson. Though Phasma's origins and character are discussed, the novel is not told from Phasma's perspective.[25][26] A four-part comic miniseries, Star Wars: Captain Phasma, will explain her escape from the First Order's base after the events of The Force Awakens.[26][27]

Merchandise[edit]

As part of the lead-up to the film, Disney released a wave of Star Wars toys on 2015's "Force Friday". One such toy was a Phasma voice-changing mask, which contained the first dialogue heard by the public.[28] Other items included a costume for children as well as action figures.[29]

Reception[edit]

Phasma received attention before release, before her name was confirmed, Phasma had been dubbed "the Chrometrooper" by fans.[11][30] The trademarking of "Captain Phasma" led to speculation that it was the name of Christie's rumored character, said to be an Imperial officer pursuing Finn.[31] Phasma had been the name of a character in one Star Wars fanfic, Tarkin's Fist, leading to MovieWeb wondering if it was an intentional homage.[31] IGN's "Keepin' It Reel" podcast discussed the possibility of Phasma being "the next breakout baddie" in the vein of Boba Fett and Darth Maul. They responded positively to the character's name, despite some initial misgivings, for fitting in with the franchise's Flash Gordon roots, they also praised her armor design, stating that character design had been important in the success of Fett and Maul. They similarly had high hopes for Christie's acting,[32] during the lead-up to the film, Phasma became a fan favorite.[33] Polygon's Susana Polo considered The Force Awakens a great achievement for Hollywood for its diversity regardless of its quality, though she used Phasma as an example of how the film was not perfect, noting rumors of Phasma's minor role despite her being the first on-screen female stormtrooper.[10]

Upon The Force Awakens' release, criticism fell on the character's minimal role in the film. The Telegraph's Jonathan McAloon called his "one criticism" of The Force Awakens the underuse of Phasma, and wondered if her face would ever be revealed in the films.[34] Jason Guerrasio of Business Insider echoed the sentiment, noting her lack of screen time despite her great potential.[35] Scott Meslow, writing for The Week, criticized the film's lack of nuance in its villains, calling her "a total cipher" in the film despite her heavy appearance in its promotion, he pointed to her appearance in Before the Awakening as a way to expand her character, noting her cold yet logical pragmatism in it.[36] Jesse Schedeen of IGN called Phasma "something of a disappointment in The Force Awakens", negatively contrasting her against Fett in that "even Fett had the distinction of outsmarting Han Solo before meeting an ignominious end". Schedeen hoped Phasma would be revisited in Marvel's Star Wars comics, to help flesh out her character and build her into a better villain.[37] Max Nicholson, writing for Collider.com, noted the amount of hype for the character, as well as her minimal role in the story. Nicholson suggested that Hux and Phasma should have been merged into one character, as they were too similar, or Phasma should have been given the melee fight scene given to a nameless trooper nicknamed "TR-8R" by fans.[38]

Merchandise featuring the character proved popular. David Betancourt of The Washington Post called Phasma's role in the film "little more than a shiny new prop", viewing her as a victim of the film's need to introduce all its new characters, yet noted the popularity and rarity of the merchandise surrounding the character.[29] Captain Phasma's figure was the bestselling of The Force Awakens' action figures on Amazon.co.uk.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ellen Dubin [@EllenDubinActor] (March 16, 2016). "In case you heard a familiar voice, I am #CaptainPhasma in #StarWarsTheResistanceRises on @DisneyXD" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  2. ^ Helen Sadler [@helensadler] (August 24, 2017). "Beyond excited to announce I'm voicing REY (and Captain Phasma) in the New @starwars BATTLEFRONT 2!! 🙇‍♀️#Battlefront2 #EAstarwars #Rey" (Tweet). Retrieved September 3, 2017 – via Twitter. 
  3. ^ a b Jones, Paul (January 16, 2015). "Bestselling Star Wars Force Awakens action figure is a female character - but where's Rey?". Radio Times. Retrieved January 21, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Breznican, Anthony (November 11, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: An Exclusive EW Gallery of New Photos". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Laverty, Christopher (January 22, 2016). "Star Wars: Interview with Michael Kaplan". Clothes on Film. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  6. ^ Breznican, Anthony (August 12, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: J.J. Abrams explains what's in a name". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ Smith, C. Molly (December 22, 2015). "Star Wars Costume Designer Breaks Down The Force Awakens". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 24, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Buchanan, Kyle (December 7, 2015). "This Major Female Villain in Star Wars: The Force Awakens Was Originally a Man". Vulture.com. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Woerner, Meredith (December 4, 2015). "The women of Star Wars speak out about their new Empire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Polo, Susana (December 16, 2015). "Even if The Force Awakens sucks, it's made one big diverse achievement for Hollywood". Polygon. Retrieved December 24, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Robinson, Joanna (May 4, 2015). "First Official Look at Game of Thrones Star Gwendoline Christie in Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ Petty, Jared (May 4, 2015). "Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie Revealed as Star Wars' Chrome Trooper Captain Phasma". IGN. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ Dockterman, Eliana (November 30, 2015). "How Gwendoline Christie Fought for a Role in Star Wars". Time. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ Truitt, Brian (December 21, 2015). "Captain Phasma: So cool she rules in Star Wars". USA Today. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Gwendoline Christie Is Captain Phasma". Star Wars Insider. No. 162. Titan Magazines. 
  16. ^ a b "Captain Phasma". Star Wars Databank. StarWars.com. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  17. ^ Grossman, Lev (December 3, 2015). "How J.J. Abrams Brought Back Star Wars". Time. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Gill, Glen (January 10, 2016). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: An Archetypal Review". Bright Lights Film Journal. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b c Hidalgo, Pablo (December 18, 2015). Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 1465438165. 
  20. ^ Laverty, Christopher (December 21, 2015). "Star Wars Episode VII: The Costumes Awaken". Clothes on Film. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  21. ^ Li, Shirley (February 12, 2016). "The Force Awakens characters to appear in new LEGO Star Wars series". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  22. ^ "LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises to Debut on Disney XD February 15". Oh My Disney. February 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016. 
  23. ^ Watercutter, Angela (February 12, 2016). "This New Animated Lego Star Wars Short Looks Legit". Wired. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  24. ^ Whitbrook, James (February 12, 2016). "Poe Dameron Stages a Daring Rescue in the First The Force Awakens Lego Short". io9. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  25. ^ Liptak, Andrew (September 1, 2017). "A new Star Wars novel traces the mysterious origins of Captain Phasma". The Verge. Retrieved September 2, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b Hall, Jacob (April 17, 2017). "'Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Will Bridge the Gap Between Episode 7 and 8 With Books and Comics". /Film. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  27. ^ Brooks, Dan (April 14, 2017). "SWCO 2017: Marvel Reveals Captain Phasma Miniseries Bridging The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi". StarWars.com. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  28. ^ Frank, Allegra (September 4, 2015). "These are the voices of Star Wars' Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma". Polygon. Retrieved December 25, 2015. 
  29. ^ a b Betancourt, David (December 23, 2015). "Captain Phasma's 'Star Wars' role is limited, but her toy-shelf appeal sure isn't". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 24, 2015. 
  30. ^ Petty, Jared (April 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Analysis". IGN. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  31. ^ a b Orange, B. Alan (December 16, 2014). "New 'Star Wars 7' Character Name Revealed". MovieWeb. Retrieved January 30, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Is Captain Phasma the Next Boba Fett or Darth Maul?". Keepin' It Reel. IGN. May 8, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  33. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (August 15, 2015). "'Star Wars': J.J. Abrams Talks Captain Phasma, Colin Trevorrow, and More at D23". Collider.com. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  34. ^ McAloon, Jonathan (December 18, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: 12 loose ends and big questions". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  35. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (December 18, 2015). "I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I have one big complaint about the movie". Business Insider. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  36. ^ Meslow, Scott (December 23, 2015). "Star Wars should give in to the power of the Dark Side". The Week. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  37. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (December 22, 2015). "9 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Comics We Want from Marvel". IGN. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  38. ^ Nicholson, Max (April 3, 2016). "6 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Characters Who Need to Up Their Game in 'Episode VIII'". Collider.com. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 

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