Rey, Jyn Erso, Sabine Wren, Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano.
Star Wars has always let its female characters thrive. It's allowed women to be powerful, heroic, conflicted, and complex all at the same time. It's seen them grow into role models for women everywhere, and of any age.
It's this proud history that comes to the forefront with Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, a new initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm that's set to introduce 16 brand new, female-led storylines to the universe.
Each will be told in the form a new animated short around 2-3 minutes in length, marking Star Wars' first foray into 2D animation; moving the focus away from the epic mythology of the films, and looking instead at moments of everyday heroism. Of small acts of courage, or standing up for others.
Fans will be pleased to know that all of the stories - centered on the likes of Rey, Jyn, Sabine, Leia, and Ahsoka - are entirely canon, and fit authentically within the existing universe of stories.
For example, we'll see Leia helping out Chewbacca as he crosses paths with a Wampa while clearing out the base on Hoth, or Rey and Finn having to deal with a tracking device discovered on board the Millennium Falcon as it heads to Maz Kanata's palace.
Particularly exciting is the announcement that the shorts will see several of the characters voiced by their original actors, including Daisy Ridley as Rey, Felicity Jones as Jyn, John Boyega as Finn, Tiya Sircar as Sabine, and Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka.
The first eight shorts will debut on Disney's YouTube channel and Disney.com in July, with an additional eight new shorts debuting in a two-part TV special in the fall, where all 16 shorts will be strung together with narration by Lupita Nyong'o's Maz Kanata.
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny will also see the introduction of a new line of toys from Hasbro, helping to introduce a greater and more inclusive variety of merchandise connected to the Star Wars films, particularly in its line of 'Adventure Figures'.
Debuting on 1 August, the 11-inch figures combine all the great articulation, special action motions (Rey swings her lightsaber, for example), and realism of traditional action figures; with the rooted hair and overall design of Disney's traditional doll line.
Plus, they're downright adorable to look at; alongside the female characters highlighted in the shorts, there are plenty of other beloved characters to be found in the line, such as R2-D2, Luke, Kylo Ren, Yoda, and Chewbacca.
For a franchise that's been so widely embraced partially thanks to the enduring power of its female characters - both as role models, and as examples of the strength and heroism of women - it's pretty fantastic to see Star Wars recognise its own broad appeal and audience in this way.
Expect plenty more Star Wars news as Star Wars Celebration takes place in Orlando from 13 - 16 April.
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