One thing that many felt was noticeable about Star Wars: The Force Awakens was how there appeared to be a visible attraction between the two leading male heroes, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega).
The pair had clear chemistry (though it should be noted that Isaac is a veritable meth lab of chemistry, managing to incite sparks with pretty much anyone and everyone he shares the screen with), and Poe had a habit of being quite tactile with most people, but often lingering with Finn — in particular a lingering glance when the pair reunite later in the film. That furtive glance was the look that launched a thousand ships.
Given that the film had already made huge steps toward updating and bringing greater representation to the world of Star Wars, many quite passionately believed that it was possible we’d seen the film series’ first cannon queer pairing.
Thus, Stormpilot was born, the portmanteau given to the belief that X-Wing pilot Poe and former Stormtrooper Finn would (or should) be a couple in the film.
I myself found it one of the biggest things I noticed about The Force Awakens, and while I may not have actively joined in with the multitude of fan art and fan fiction, I desperately hoped that it could be true. For my own view on the potential of it, I saw the attraction as mostly one way: that Poe was clearly attracted to Finn romantically, but this was not reciprocated. That in itself could have been a huge step forward not just for the franchise, but film in general, for Star Wars itself to not only include a queer character, but make them one of the main protagonists.
The actors themselves have both at various points expressed their eagerness or happiness to have such a portrayal for the characters, too.
So it was that with Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming, many a fan and particularly those in the queer audience wondered would we get this pairing, or any form of queer representation in Star Wars.
Well, as for Stormpilot, it seems that dream is over. With the addition of new character Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), the potential love triangle of Poe/Finn/Rey (Daisy Ridley) is smoothed over as romantic sub-plots are set up for both Rose and Finn, and in the very last moments Poe and Rey. Rose/Finn is pretty obvious, but the Rey/Poe one is much more subtle, again relying on Isaac’s ability to exude sexual/romantic chemistry with just about anything (and an almost-callback to a classic romance line from the franchise).
Poe or Finn or both may still one day turn out to be bi/pansexual, but certainly the Stormpilot pairing is done for. Or, at least, canonically.
It may seem to many that Rose might have been added into the mix to try to put Stormpilot to bed and kill off discussion of this particular pairing. But thankfully, even if it turned out that was one of the original purposes of the character, it’s far from all she winds up being. She is written with such depth and character that she is thankfully fully fleshed out and a welcome addition to the group.
But if it was a hope that adding this new element would end Stormpilot, that was a foolish thought. Stormpilot, like any ship, will live on. This is the internet, and fandom, and it is simply what it does. Stormpilot, while it may never be canon, will always live on forever for those who adored that idea.
What of canon queer representation in Star Wars, though?
Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) is possibly canonically queer, revealed earlier in the year in the Leia: Princess of Alderaan novel by Claudia Gray. Via a small exchange between Holdo and Leia where they are talking about attraction, Holdo states she finds the idea of only being attracted to “humanoid males” “so limiting”.
However, this is never mentioned or alluded to in The Last Jedi at all, ostensibly creating a situation like we all had with Thor: Ragnarok a few months ago where actress Tessa Thompson said she considers Valkyrie bisexual, but there was little in the film to show that (and rumours that there was even a scene that made it more explicit that was cut from the film).
It’s an almost step… a tentative one, perhaps, but still means no clear, legitimate and canonical queer representation in the Star Wars films. For queer Star Wars fans, there are a few elements of queer representation in the many linked media of Star Wars, such as novels and comics, that are also in canon, but as yet, we have not, and perhaps will not, be seeing those characters in films, being out and proud.
But remember: the cast are behind the idea of queer representation in the series, including Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. So perhaps it is only a matter of time — we just wish they’d get to it already.