STAR WARS: Who is Doctor Aphra?
Chelli Lona Aphra is a character that was first introduced in Darth Vader #3 back in 2015, a series that is set in the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. She is a rogue, morally dubious archeologist that was apprehended and recruited (against her will) by Darth Vader, as he intended to gather a few resources of his own, unbeknown to the Emperor. She was then teamed up with two droids, 0-0-0 (Triple-Zero) and BT-1 (Beetee) that can only be classified as the evil versions of both C-3PO and R2-D2. Even after swearing allegiance to the Dark Lord of the Sith, Aprha was always trying to escape his grasp, and every mission she was sent on became a chance of doing just that.
While trying to rescue Darth Vader after the rebellion managed to crash his ship on Vrogas Vas, Chelli is captured by Princess Leia, Han, and Luke, and taken aboard the Millenium Falcon as she is taken to Sunspot Prison. The prison is then raided and Princess Leia, alongside Sana Starros, ends up needing Aphra’s help to escape. This wasn’t the last time she crossed paths with some of the heroes of the Rebellion as she, later on, ended up partnering with Luke Skywalker as they found themselves in Ktath’atn, The Screaming Citadel, home of a Queen that’s highly evocative of Bram Stoker’s take on vampires. After Darth Vader decided she was no longer of use, he killed her…or so he thought. Aphra managed to escape but above all was successful in making Vader thing she had indeed died, which prevented him from following her any further.
Through her following endeavors, she developed a very, shall we say, complicated relationship with an Imperial Captain named Magna Tolvan. Aphra and Tolvan found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict, but there was an obvious connection between the two of them from the start. Magna had trouble dealing with Chelli’s more carefree personality and her constant romantic innuendos, as she tried maintaining the usual stoicism the Empire seems to imprint its operatives with. After a long cat-and-mouse game, both finally succumbed to their feelings towards each other and kissed for the first time in the middle of battle.
Doctor Aphra is probably the first major queer Star Wars character and the fact that she’s also of Asian heritage (is there is such a thing in the Star Wars universe), so the possibility of bringing her character to a more mainstream medium was always seen as an incredible opportunity in terms of representation. Star Wars was always about accepting that what makes us different is what makes us, as a community, stronger. The Empire has always been focused on uniformity and monotony but the good guys have always been about diversity and difference. Different races, different species, different beliefs coming together for the common goal. Getting Chelli Aphra on a live-action Star Wars project would be not only an intelligent and progressive move, it would be the right one.