In a new interview with Variety, Oscar Isaac confirmed that his Star Wars character Poe Dameron isn’t in a relationship with John Boyega’s Finn in The Rise of Skywalker. Not exactly surprising, considering the Disney of it all. But still a blow to fans who watched eagerly as Isaac laid the foundation for Poe’s sexuality onscreen and in interviews these last five years. While never canonically queer, it was clear Isaac wanted to play up Poe’s natural chemistry with Finn, to add another layer to the character.
“Personally, I kind of hoped and wished that maybe that would’ve been taken further in the other films, but I don’t have control,” Isaac said. “It seemed like a natural progression, but sadly enough it’s a time when people are too afraid, I think, of… I don’t know what […] If they would’ve been boyfriends, that would have been fun.”
For some fans, this may sound out of nowhere. Finn, the defecting Stormtrooper introduced in The Force Awakens, expressed romantic interest in Rey and had a brief courtship with Rose Tico in The Last Jedi. Poe has never been in any romantic scenarios in either sequel trilogy films. But it’s clear, from early behind-the-scenes suggestions and the current promotional tour for The Rise of Skywalker, that the fandom has good reason to read between the lines.
The Finn/Poe ship— effectively nicknamed Stormpilot—is hugely popular, and for very legitimate reasons. In a trilogy so rich with diversity and representation, it seems natural to have two queer leads, too. Knowing they aren’t in a canonical, endgame relationship in The Rise of Skywalker is disappointing, considering how much teasing there’s been in the lead up; not just from the actors, but from tie-in materials and advertising.
Let’s take a look back at the history of Stormpilot. Where it began, why the ship means so much to so many fans, and why there might still be hope.
The earlier signs of Stormpilot
In the lead-up to The Force Awakens, Oscar Issac dropped a few early hints that Poe Dameron might be queer. At San Diego Comic-Con, when asked what color Poe’s lightsaber would be, he answered “rainbow colored.” For the rest of the promotional tour of the film, when asked the same question, he responded the same way. Was he just joking to avoid the question of whether or not Poe was Force sensitive (back then we knew literally nothing about the plot of the film) or was he planting the seeds for a possible revelation about his character’s preferences?
Isaac continued to tease out possibilities. In an interview on Ellen, Degeneres asked the cast if they had a love interest in the film. “I think it’s very subtle romance that’s happening,” Isaac said. “You have to watch it a few times to see the little hints. But there was—at least I was playing romance. In the cockpit, there was a very deep romance happening.” As he explained, Boyega kept gesturing at himself, implying maybe the romance was with him. When the film came out, and Poe and Finn share an early scene in a cockpit, fans started to put two and two together.
The ship awakens
The release of The Force Awakens ignited a storm. A Stormpilot, you might say. Finn and Poe have an instant camaraderie in the text of the film. As they escape from the First Order base, it’s Poe who gives Finn his name. When Poe seemingly dies in a TIE crash on Jakku, Finn finds his jacket and wears it for the rest of the film. When they’re reunited later, and Poe is shown to be alive, he tells Finn to keep the jacket. “It suits you,” he says, while biting his lip. The moment that sparked a million gifs and fanfics.
Fans eager for queer representation latched onto Stormpilot. The art that made its way online after the film’s release was beautiful and heartfelt. A search through the Stormpilot tag on Deviantart and Pinterest yields thousands of results. The Poe Dameron/Finn tag on Archive Of Our Own—a popular fanfiction site—has 278 pages of results.
It wasn’t just fandom that took notice. The media loved putting Isaac and Boyega together for interviews and memes. This BuzzFeed video where the actors read thirst tweets went viral. Their chemistry and humor is evident, and continued to fuel rumors that maybe… just maybe… Finn and Poe would get together in the final saga film.
Is it queerbaiting?
As potent as the Stormpilot ship was for fans, most probably assumed it would never actually happen. That’s the curse of “slash shipping” (or queer shipping): the properties they’re borne within are unlikely to make these relationships canon. It’s an unfortunate symptom of a system too afraid to push boundaries, for whatever reason.
As the press revs up for The Rise of Skywalker, Isaac and Boyega have doubled down on their chemistry. At Star Wars Celebration back in April, Isaac teased that Poe “takes his relationship with Finn very seriously,” locking eyes with Boyega on stage as the crowd went wild. Boyega recently posted an Instagram video where he penned a love letter to Isaac, set to classical music in the style of The Crown.
they’re married your honour pic.twitter.com/uoiVDpehEO
— mickey RAT hate bot / finnpoe is ?️? PERIOD (@mygayenergy) December 2, 2019
As the two continued to milk the fan base, it appeared—for the briefest of moments—that there could possibly be a canonical romance between the characters, too. The canon novel Resistance Reborn, set before the events of The Rise of Skywalker, make it clear that Finn isn’t dating Rose Tico and no longer has feelings for Rey. It also features several intimate moments between Finn and Poe, which seem to hint at some deeper feelings.
Was Star Wars going to do it? Was it actually going to make Finn and Poe endgame? Or at least leave the nature of their relationship ambiguous for fans to theorize? Not so much. In the same aforementioned Variety article, The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams confirmed the two are just platonic friends in the final film. “That relationship to me is a far deeper one than a romantic one,” he said, though he admitted there was some sort of LGBTQ+ representation in Episode IX.
The Stormpilot fandom wasn’t happy. Online, they expressed concern about being “queerbaited,” or teased into believe their slash ship could actually happen.
IM SORRY FOR TWEETINF SO MUCH ABOUT STAR OF WARS I AM JUST SEETHING WITH RAGE THAT SW HAD THE CHANCE TO MAKE HISTORY W THE VERY FIRST INTERRACIAL GAY COUPLE IN A MAJOR FRANCHISE AND THEY JUST WENT. LOL NAW U DUMB FOR FALLING FOR OUR QUEERBAIT
— flo(rida man) (@reverendtolIer) December 4, 2019
The Rise of Skywalker… and beyond
It’s understandable that fans are frustrated. Even though they were never officially promised canon Stormpilot, the constant teasing doesn’t help. It’s a form of media gaslighting. However, it’s probably best to place that blame on the creators or parent company too afraid to take the leap, not the actors. As Isaac’s quotes and history imply, he tries to make Stormpilot a reality, since he first met Boyega and sensed their chemistry.
the only true captain of the finnpoe ship… thank you king oscar isaac for all of your services through out the years ?✊ pic.twitter.com/j7gkGhvEUQ
— mickey RAT hate bot / finnpoe is ?️? PERIOD (@mygayenergy) December 4, 2019
The bright side? The fanfiction, fanart, and headcanons can continue even after The Rise of Skywalker. Canon or not, shipping is an important and valuable way to access fandom. And maybe the film will be ambiguous enough that fans can see Stormpilot anyway. He’s hoping the inevitable sequel to the sequel trilogy finally lets Finn and Poe live happily ever after.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm