Mexico doesn’t exist in the world of Star Wars, and neither do Latinos. But if there’s any character that we can definitively make a case that he or she is Latino, it’s Diego Luna‘s Captain Cassian Andor. The character stands out in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as an intelligence officer for the Rebel Alliance who leads a diverse group on a mission to steal the Death Star plans.
Going into Rogue One, fans may have expected it to mostly focus on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) or the talented ensemble altogether. That’s why it wasn’t surprising that the film starts with with Jyn’s childhood and her background. But before long, we meet Luna’s Andor, kicking ass and taking his spy duties seriously. As it turns out, Luna’s the second-most featured character in the tale. For the rest of the movie, he’s never too far behind Erso – making him the Latino hero we deserve, and the Latino actor who has had the most prominent role in any of the eight Star Wars films released in the last 39 years.
The Star Wars universe has Latino contributions sprinkled throughout, most noticeably from Oscar Isaac and Jimmy Smits. But up until Luna, the roles have been much smaller. Isaac’s Poe Dameron goes missing at the beginning of his story. The audience is led to believe that he’s dead for a large chunk of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Smits’ Senator Bail Organa, on the other hand, didn’t have enough to do in the prequels. Caspian, though, was present for every part of Jyn’s adventure.
Perhaps what most stands out is his way of speaking. When the first trailers came out, fans immediately noticed and celebrated that Luna spoke with his natural accent. It’s also significant to him, who’s fully aware of what it means to take part in the massive franchise. “My presence in this movie shows that they’ve heard us,” he told El Pais. “Each time that we buy a movie ticket, we are saying that we want to see an industry that reflects who we are. It gives me hope. That said, I am the luckiest Mexican in all of the galaxy.”
It’s refreshing, especially when a Spanish accent is still used largely for comedic effect across film and television in the US. A humorous tone wouldn’t exactly work with this entry into the series, and yet the film doesn’t make a big deal about his accent. And no one struggles to understand him.
The Star Wars universe has Latino contributions sprinkled throughout, most noticeably from Oscar Isaac and Jimmy Smits. But up until Luna, the roles have been much smaller.
The live-action movies feature a wide variety of accents. However, most characters sound like they’re either from the UK or the United States. Smits, for example, spoke with a subtle British accent – fitting for someone who is royalty in one of the galaxy’s Core Worlds. Poe Dameron, on the other hand sounds American because he is from Yavin 4 – which is in the Outer Rim, away from the center of the empire. As a matter of fact, Isaac may have influenced the way his character sounds.
“This is one of the very cool things about working with Lucasfilm and J.J. [Abrams] is we’re creating this stuff together,” Isaac told i09. “And they’re open to that and they’re excited by that. So [the backstory] was a collaboration. That was me realizing that Yavin, the Rebel base at the end of A New Hope, was actually shot in Guatemala. I was born in Guatemala. This takes place 30 years later. Which is close to my age. And so I thought ‘Why couldn’t Poe be from Yavin? He could be from there, that rebel base.’ And I said that in some interviews. Lucasfilm heard that, it got back to the creators of Shattered Empire and they thought ‘that’s a cool idea.’” Unfortunately, Guatemala also doesn’t exist in the Star Wars universe.
There’s nothing that signals that Poe is Latino. And though he’s a positive role model, his character is mostly portrayed as a sort of goody-too-shoes. Because of the movie’s constraints, we don’t get to see a complex character – just a perfect, heroic Poe. While that might make Dameron a modern-day Luke Skywalker – minus the force sensitivity but with added handsomeness – Cassian is definitely the most interesting of the two. It also makes him the most relatable. Throughout the film, he grapples with doing what’s right vs. what he believes he should do. And he’s not proud of his past.
Growing up he used to carry around a Darth Vader doll, but now somewhere, some kid’s going to grow up carrying the Diego doll.
Cassian’s a little rough around the edges, but luckily he has a giant droid best friend to balance him out. Apologies to the adorable BB-8 (Poe’s sidekick), but Andor has the better robot BFF. While there were some sparks flying between Andor and Erso, Rogue One really has us wanting to know more about Andor and his true soul mate, his droid companion K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). The scene-stealing robot brings most of the humor in a movie that can get dark at times. Tudyk voiced the robot and came on set to do motion capture, which helped him develop chemistry with the ensemble.
Since the Star Wars franchise has plenty of spin offs on deck, we’re not out of line to ask for an Andor and K-2SO buddy cop movie. Unfortunately, LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that there will be no sequel to Rogue One.
But even though Cassian has done some questionable things in the name of the rebellion, he’s ultimately just trying to do his best for the cause. Of course, if it were up to Luna, he’d likely have been loyal to Darth Vader instead of working against him. He told El Pais that growing up he used to carry around a Darth Vader doll, but now somewhere, some kid’s going to grow up carrying the Diego doll.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16, 2016.