Rumor has it that after 30 years, countless posters and merchandise items, and thousands of copycat costumes, the ubiquitous gold bikini worn by Princess Leia in Star Wars IV: Return of the Jedi will be retired.
While there have always been people on either side of the fence on whether Slave Leia is appropriate, the debate reached new heights in July when the new Star Wars merchandise dropped and the main Leia figure released was Slave Leia, complete with collar and chokechain. Parents were furious for several reasons, including just how scantily clad Slave Leia appears, and the fact that she has a chain leash much like a dog might. (It’s important to note here that Slave Leia also comes with two different weapons, and the chain is short and cut, such as it was in the film after she killed her captor Jabba the Hut all by herself).
While some detractors are protesting the Slave Leia figurine (and the Slave Leia concept) on appearance alone – citing it as too sexual and too hard to explain to their young children – others are protesting it more on how it treats the Leia character overall. Out of all of the costume designs Leia wore throughout the original Star Wars trilogy, from her famous white dress and cinnamon bun hairdo in A New Hope, to her functional yet stylish puffy jacket and pants on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, it was the skimpy bikini from her time as Jabba the Hutt’s prisoner in Return of the Jedi that received the most attention when the action figures were created. (The Black Series of figures does include both a six inch and three and three quarters inch Leia as Boushh the Bounty Hunter, but Slave Leia comes in multiple sizes as her own figure and is included in special edition sets such as the Jabba’s Rancor Pit from San Diego Comic-Con.)
Even Carrie Fisher, Leia herself, seems against the continuing popularity and inclusion of the infamous bikini in the Star Wars universe. In a recent interview between Fisher and Daisy Ridley (Rey in The Force Awakens) for Interview Magazine, they briefly discussed the slave outfit and Fisher seemed to be pretty adamant that Ridley fight against ever having to wear something similar. She also talked about space kisses, insane asylums, going incognito in Vegas, and fans versus stalkers, so whether she was totally serious about her dismissal of the outfit or not is hard to say.
Whether or not Carrie Fisher is standing against Slave Leia and all of her artwork and merchandising incarnations, it does seem that Disney is making their stance on retiring the outfit pretty clear. J Scott Campbell, one of the comic book artists who has worked on Star Wars comics this year, tweeted recently that he’d heard from two sources that future product lines would not include any Slave Leia images or items, and that even the comics and comic related merchandise was being forced to steer clear of certain types of Leia imagery.
Will a crackdown by Disney and Lucasfilm (neither of whom have yet made a statement on whether or not the rumors of retiring Slave Leia are true) on new Slave Leia items kill one of the most iconic costumes from the Star Wars saga? Probably not. Most likely the figurines that already exist will become more valuable, the original Return of the Jedi posters with Slave Leia prominently featured will become high-end collector’s items, and just as many cosplayers will take to convention floors dressed in skimpy gold bikinis as ever before.