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Like the secretive Solo character, are women expected to wear a mask if they want to lead the Church?
Editor’s note: This post includes spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Enfys - Nest - Screen - Solo - Character
When Enfys Nest first appears on screen in Solo, the character is daunting: masked and threatening, with a voice-changing helmet that recalls the Darth Vaders and Boba Fetts of the Star Wars universe. Nest walks the line between rebellious anti-hero and villain throughout the film, pillaging and raiding as the head of the infamous Cloud-Riders and constantly causing problems for Han and company. But near the climax of Solo, the character removes the ornate, fierce-looking helmet. Beneath it is a game-changer: Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman) is a young woman. Is this why she wears the mask?
Women often don masks in Star Was to increase perceived power and decrease perceived vulnerability. Think of Captain Phasma, Leia in her Boushh disguise, Rey in her Jakku Mask, and even Queen Amidala, who wore a proverbial mask of makeup. Each of these presentations helps to hide the identities of the women or make them appear more formidable. Similarly, Nest’s mask gives her power: it is spiked and primal, with just enough chrome around the eyes to qualify as science-fiction. What’s more, it features voice-masking capabilities. When Nest speaks, her voice is deep, mechanical, and it sounds like that of a man. Add full body armor and a slew of melee weapons, and Nest’s appearance provides no hint of femininity. For most of the film, the figure projects masculine power. When she reveals her identity near the end, it causes us to reconsider our initial impression of her. Why are we surprised that she is a young woman? Can she still be perceived as strong if we now know she’s not a man?
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