Star Wars Character’s Skin Tone Was Altered For Being Racist
Star Wars: The Bad Batch has been edited to match the clone troopers' appearances to that of Māori actor Temuera Morrison.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch was a breath of fresh air for fans when it first premiered, letting us return to the Clone Wars-style animation we love while following the adventures of unique, Republic-fighting clones. However, fans of the franchise quickly noted that these warriors, which are supposed to be clones of Māori actor Temuera Morrison, were much paler than they should be, leading to the creation of the #UnwhitewashTheBadBatch campaign. In an interview with Collider, Bad Batch director Brad Rau confirmed that “we listened to all the concerns of the fans” and that his team had gone back to color-correct the skin tones of previous episodes.
If you want to see what the #UnwhitewashTheBadBatch movement is all about, just go back and watch a trailer for the first season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. It’s clear that our titular heroes are whiter and have more Eurocentric features than the obedient clones they were fighting. In many ways, this made the initial accusations of racism worse.
The difference in skin tones meant that fans were effectively watching good guys that were coded as white people fighting bad guys that were coded as people of color. To many, this brought to mind uncomfortable racial stereotypes that stem from early imperialism. There is a certain uncomfortable irony there, of course: Star Wars is a franchise that always made fighting an evil empire its central storytelling element, and then Bad Batch utilized an imperialist aesthetic for its heroes that made many fans stand up and take notice.
Judging from the trailer for the second season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, it looks like Brad Rau was true to his word, and the heroes (Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, Tech, and Echo) are notably darker-skinned than they were in the trailer for season 1. The new trailer, however, doesn’t address every concern about aesthetics that fans have voiced.
For example, when you view an interaction between Commander Cody and Crosshair, they look like two completely different people despite ostensibly being cloned from the same person, but this has always been a design struggle for the series: to make its protagonist visually distinct from the countless other clone warriors that are meant to have the same face.
Watching #UnwhitewashTheBadBatch play out in real time has provided an interesting glimpse into the minds of different kinds of Star Wars fans. For example, opponents of the campaign think that Disney merely caved in out of fear of being “canceled,” with many claiming the series designers and directors should have stuck to their original designs on principle. Meanwhile, many proponents of the campaign have pointed out that it’s not exactly a culture war topic to expect Bad Batch characters cloned from a Māori man to actually look Māori.
At any rate, the second season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch premieres today, giving fans a chance to check out what has or has not been changed. Due to this season being mostly complete when season 1 came out, chances are that some other things that upset fans may be unchanged. However, the team’s receptiveness to fan criticism means we might expect even bigger changes for the third season.