Ever since the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit on 28 November 2014, we’ve been waiting in what can be insufficiently described as ‘anticipation’ for our next glimpse of what could very well be the most eagerly awaited film of all time. Finally, during the Force Awakens panel at the Star Wars: Celebration event in Anaheim on 16 April, we got that all-important next look, and it’s fair to say that we weren’t let down.
Joining director JJ Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy on stage were new stars John Boyega (who’ll be playing runaway Stormtrooper Finn), Daisy Ridley (scavenger Rey) and Oscar Isa ac (pilot Poe Dameron), along with returning favourites Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Anthony Daniels (C-3P0) – not to mention droids R2-D2 and BB-8.
The trailer picks up on the planet Jakku, with flashes to various images (including Darth Vader’s melted helmet) as Luke repeats a version of his dialogue from Return Of The Jedi: “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power too.”
For all that was on display, there’s still a lot more left to be revealed. Leia and Luke were absent from the trailer (well, their faces were, at least), there’s still no official confirmation that Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren, and we’re yet to get glimpses of Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o or Max von Sydow’s characters. Regardless, we still learned a lot from the footage and its accompanying exhibits at Celebration, the ten most important points of which we have listed here…
1. The desert planet isn’t Tatooine
One of the most interesting revelations is that the desert planet we see in the trailer is not Tatooine as many (us included) assumed, but an entirely new location called Jakku. It’s the site of one of the last skirmishes of the Galactic Civil War, the Battle of Jakku, with the downed Star Destroyer we see at the start of the trailer being part of the debris. Will this be Star Wars’ Serenity Valley?
2. Rey’s story is rags to riches
The aftermath of the Battle of Jakku has birthed a scavenger’s economy, one of the most notable denizens of which is Daisy Ridley’s Rey. Described by Ridley as “a scavenger in a ship’s graveyard,” she further elaborates, “[She’s] very solitary. Until she meets another character and an adventure begins.”
3. Finn may or may not be a good guy (but he’s probably good)
The other character in question is Boyega’s Finn, who the Attack The Block star confirmed is a Stormtrooper, before claiming memory loss after a ‘stern’ look from Abrams. “When we find Finn, he’s in incredible danger,” says Boyega regarding his character’s arc. “The way he decides to react changes his life and launches him into the Star Wars universe in a unique way.”
This ‘incredible danger’ that Boyega is referring to could explain why nearly every glimpse we’ve seen of him involves him running, looking panicked and covered in sweat. The above image has him and Rey being chased by a TIE Fighter, indicating that they incur the First Order’s displeasure somehow.
4. Poe Dameron is the new Han Solo/Luke Skywalker
Future X-Men: Apocalypse star Oscar Isaac shed light on X-Wing pilot Dameron, who he described as “the best frickin’ pilot in the galaxy,” before adding, “He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess. He comes across Mr John Boyega’s character, and their fates are forever intertwined.”
5. This time it won’t be as much of a sausage fest
Speaking of a ‘certain princess’, Carrie Fisher mentioned her pleasure at being back as Princess Leia – even if she isn’t the sole female in the cast this time. “I liked being the only one when I was 19,” she said, “But now I need some backup.”
6. The Empire has been rebranded
With the Emperor gone, it would appear the Empire died with him – although in its place the ‘First Order’ has risen, which judging by various shots from the trailer, like burning villages and the on-the-nose Nazi imagery of the Stormtroopers stood in front of a big banner, will be just as nasty as their original trilogy counterparts.
7. The adversaries all look like badasses
Although there’s still no official confirmation about who’s actually playing the new trilogy’s probable big bad (rumours peg Girls star Adam Driver), we do get to see him in action, proving that it is possible to wield that cross-shaped lightsaber in an efficient manner. With a patterned mask that recalls two of the saga’s most evocative villains, it looks like he could be a standout character.
Also on show for the first time is Captain Phasma, the chrome-plated Stormtrooper with a red cape seen striding purposefully. Clearly the Force Awakens team have been drawing inspiration from the Darth Vader/Boba Fett school of masked maliciousness.
8. The X-Wings and TIE Fighters have been upgraded
As you might have expected, technology has come on a bit in the years between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. Thus, the signature dog-fighters of the First Order and the Resistance (renamed from the Rebellion) have also been enhanced, with the X-Wings now being referred to as the ‘Incom T70’ model, and the TIE Fighters also look subtly different.
9. BB-8 could end up being the breakout star
Despite everything that was on show at Celebration, the new droid somehow stole the show, wheeling onto the stage with the revelation that his rolling beach-ball design was, in fact, practical effects, and not CGI as many assumed. Around half the size of R2, he makes his forebear look old by comparison, and judging by the reception he got, is already a fan favourite.
10. Han and Chewie are picking up where they left off
Again, for all the numerous revelations, everything paled in comparison to the final reveal of a couple of very familiar faces. As the screen fades to black, an instantly recognisable gravelly voice intones: “Chewie, we’re home” – cue Han Solo and Chewie, the latter letting out his trademark roar, inside what we can fairly confidently say is the Millennium Falcon, judging by the trademark grubby interior. Euphoria ensues.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in cinemas on 18 December. For the latest Star Wars news, grab the latest issue of SciFiNow.