A roll of the eyes, a couple of tuts and and an all-too-familiar shake of the head. Hasbro’s new Star Wars: The Force Awakens-themed Monopoly set has caused outrage, as you can only play as either Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren or Finn. No Rey. You know, the movie’s lead? Sorry, the movie’s FEMALE lead.
Rightly, the Internet has reacted both incredulously and furiously, with #WheresRey currently trending on Twitter. Unfortunately, we’ve seen it all before. Merchandisers have a nasty habit of deliberately under-representing female characters, regardless of how central they are to the movies. Here’s a small handful of recent examples.
Where’s Black Widow?
Prior to Rey-gate, the most high-profile examples of this concerned The Avengers' Black Widow. Though she first made an appearance in Iron Man 2, the first Black Widow toy came out to celebrate The Avengers. Even then, Scarlett Johansson's character was treated as a tertiary character, with the figure coming out months after the movie landed.
Incredibly, Black Widow also managed to be left out of a toy that was based entirely around one of her most famous scenes in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Captain America -- the guy she's heading out to save -- takes her place on Hasbro's Cycle Blast Quinjet toy. Head in hands.
Aww, Gamora, trying to fit in with the boys. Nice try. That’s very much the thinking behind the total lack of Gamora merch, despite her being one of Guardians of the Galaxy’s central figures. The four other characters -- who happen to have testes (even if they're little wooden acorns for Groot) -- were a lot more readily available.
When a less-than-impressed shopper trying and failing to find something Gamora for her daughter decided to write to The Children’s Place to ask about why the character was left off a GotG t-shirt, she received this response: “The Guardians of the Galaxy shirt in particular is a boy's shirt, which is why it does not include the female character Gamora. We try to have a diverse assortment but unfortunately cannot represent each movie and character.”
On one particular shirt, the manufacturer decided it made more sense to leave out Gamora and double-up on male characters, despite it being made up of five columns -- one for each of the members of the team. Ridiculous.
Where’s Captain Phasma?
Captain Phasma actually has a brilliant-looking toy, courtesy of Hot Toys, but boy were we made to wait for it. Considering just how visually-striking the character is, that's no innocent mistake. Gwendoline Christie was completely left out of the vast majority of early The Force Awakens toysets, and she's not even an obviously female character, given the costuming. Multipack character playsets for The Force Awakens also favour Joe Bloggs Stormtrooper grunts over the impressive Captain of the troops.
Where's the excuse?
According to a Hasbro spokesperson: "The Star Wars Monopoly game was released in September, months before the movie's release, and Rey was not included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance."
That's a weak one really – I don't think anyone that saw the trailers, saw Rey running around with BB-8 and Finn and Han, really questioned her allegiances, having seen the film or otherwise. Apparently Rey will feature more heavily in the second wave of Force Awakens merchandise, but for those eager to build a galactic empire on their tabletops, the 'Iron' token from the original Monopoly seems eerily prescient at the moment. [EW]