Chinese ‘Star Wars’ poster criticised for shrinking head of black lead actor John Boyega

British actor Boyega appears much smaller on the Chinese poster than on the Western version

The Chinese poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been criticised for apparently sidelining one of the film’s stars, British actor John Boyega, who is black.

There are several differences between the western and Chinese posters for the movies – Chewbacca has been cut entirely from the new Chinese poster, and Adam Driver’s masked villain Rylo Ken looks head on instead of to the side. However, the most notable change is the fact Boyega – who plays stormtrooper Finn, one of the film’s lead characters – has been made considerably smaller.

Star Wars fan Guy Lambert first pointed out the conspicuous shrinking of Boyega’s head on Twitter.

On Twitter, many Star Wars fans reacted incredulously to the Chinese poster, replying with comments such as “surreal”, “fucking hell” and “I freaking hate people sometimes”. Meanwhile, a user on a Star Wars messageboard appeared to accuse the film’s Asian distributors of racism.

“Every Asian poster for the film that I am aware of has decreased the size of Finn’s image and or moved him further back into the background of the images of the posters,” the user wrote. “This is no mere coincidence. This is how Asian markets treat characters played by black actors other than Will Smith. The fact that this way of doing business went over Westerners’ heads is surprising.”

In a statement, John Hsu of the Walt Disney Company China said: “We are thrilled to bring Star Wars: The Force Awakens to China on January 9. We’re excited to be rolling out our marketing campaign and to connect with new fans in China through Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

READ: John Boyega admits he is unsure how fans will react to ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.