Fans of the 1980 Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back likely remember Lando Calrissian as a gun-toting, smooth-talking leader who had eyes for Princess Leia.
"What have we here?" he famously said upon seeing her, moments before kissing her hand.
But according to Marvel, Lucasfilm and the official Star Wars website, Calrissian is a member of the LGBTQ community.
That website, StarWars.com, revealed six comic book covers this month, "honoring the LGBTQ+ characters of Star Wars" as part of Pride Month in June.
Fans who watch only the films likely have not heard of most of the characters – they're minor – but Lando Calrissian is the exception.
All the covers are drawn by members of the LGBTQ community.
The other LGBT Stars Wars characters featured on covers include:
- Archaeologist Doctor Aphra.
- Yrica Quell, pilot and leader of Alphabet Squadron.
- Imperial commander Rae Slone.
- Jedi twins Terec and Ceret.
- Bounty hunter/smuggler Sana Starros.
"The art will grace every title in Marvel's Star Wars line, and each piece has been created by gay and transgender artists; the covers also feature title treatments with a rainbow burst, and a classic Star Wars logo with a rainbow trail," the StarWars.com article says.
Said Marvel editor Tom Groneman, "This talented team of artists is bringing so much passion and enthusiasm to these covers. For me, sharing that passion with fans and readers is a wonderful celebration of the most unique, compelling, and iconic characters in the Star Wars galaxy."
It's not the first time controversy has surrounded the character of Lando Calrissian. When Solo: A Star Wars Story was released in 2018, screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan was asked if Lando was pansexual. He replied, "I would say yes."
Donald Glover played Calrissian in Solo. Billy Dee Williams played him in the other films.
The reaction to the announcement was mixed on the Facebook page of the entertainment website Giant Freaking Robot.
"It just seems like they are adding it now. Wasn't original intention with him. And, if he was originally pan, how could he resist Solo," one person wrote.
Some noted Calrissian had a wife, Tendra, in the Star Wars novels.
"I'll never understand the constant changing of already existing characters to pander and suit agendas," another person wrote. "Whats so hard about just making up a new character that represents your ideas???"
Photo courtesy: ©Disney
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.