Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order developers reportedly originally wanted a Black or female lead character, but this was rejected in favor of Cal Kestis.
The developers behind 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order reportedly hoped for the game to have a Black or female protagonist, but were allegedly shot down by higher management. The Star Wars franchise has been making significant strides toward increasing representation of groups besides the standard white male lead in recent years, with the Sequel Trilogy starring Rey and 2017’s Star Wars: Battlefront II featuring Iden Versio as the primary playable character in its single-player campaign.
However, the Respawn-developed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order featured the voice and likeness of Cameron Monaghan as Cal Kestis, a former Padawan learner and the game’s sole playable hero. While players can customize Cal’s outfit and Lightsaber in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, his physical appearance remains locked as he explores the far reaches of the galaxy in search of the lost remnants of the old Jedi Order during the reign of the tyrannical Galactic Empire. Fans largely enjoyed Cal’s story and characterization, and plenty would like to see the Fallen Order star appear in future Star Wars games, but many felt that his character design was somewhat generic and not much of a departure from past Star Wars gaming protagonists like Star Wars: Jedi Outcast star Kyle Katarn or Star Wars: The Force Unleashed lead Starkiller – both of whom were white males with a strong aptitude for the Force.
According to GamesRadar, Respawn staff reportedly had an entirely different idea for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s playable character. In a post on her Twitter page yesterday, former Respawn lighting artist Nora Shramek claimed that the development team pushed for the game’s protagonist to be either a Black person or a woman, but were shot down by unknown personnel in higher management. Shramek alleges the rationale behind not having the main character of Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order be Black was apparently that there were already two prominent people of color among Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order‘s cast, and when asked if the protagonist could be female, management reportedly rejected Respawn’s team because Rey was already headlining the live-action Star Wars films during that time. Hence, Respawn ultimately had Cal Kestis as the lead character in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
When I worked on SW:JFO a LOT of devs wanted & advocated 4 the main character 2b black &/or a woman. ‘Reasons’ 4 NO: We already have 2 black people in the game. Rey is a woman & we can’t do that to’ guess what the demographic of the people making those decisions looked like?
— NoraNevaBoreYa 🏳️🌈 (@NoraShramek) May 10, 2022
Cal Kestis is almost certain to return as the playable hero of the upcoming sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which was announced alongside a slate of other EA-published Star Wars games earlier this year. Plot details regarding Cal’s next big adventure are still unknown at this time, but Cameron Monaghan has suggested that his character could head in a darker direction due to the heavy trauma he has endured in Fallen Order. Additionally, rumors have suggested that the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sequel could have a different name entirely, and that more information about it could be revealed at this year’s Star Wars Celebration event late this month.
Cal Kestis is a fine character in his own right, but many Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order players felt that the game missed out on an opportunity to further diversify the Star Wars galaxy by having a Black or female playable protagonist. It’s a shame that the developers’ push for this was reportedly shot down so decisively, especially if this was indeed due to such superficial grounds as two people of color being in the game or the Star Wars movies already having a female lead. Perhaps the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sequel could feature additional playable characters aside from Cal, allowing Respawn’s devs to fulfill their initial idea for the original game’s main hero.
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