As arguably the most anticipated film of all-time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was analyzed under a microscope every step of its journey to the big screen. Fans followed the rumor mill on a daily basis and broke down each frame from the trailers as they counted down the days to its release. With all the headlines the movie made, it would seem like everything about it is common knowledge, but that is hardly the case. Here’s our list of the 10 most shocking secrets in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Luke’s Larger Role
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was curiously absent from all the movie’s marketing materials. When the film premiered, viewers quickly learned why. The original trilogy hero is only in Episode 7’s final scene. Originally, he was intended to have a larger part, but screenwriter Michael Arndt could not find a way to include him without overshadowing the new characters he wanted to focus on. In the end, making the plot a quest to find Luke proved to be the best and gave Disney another nostalgia card to play when it’s time to promote Episode 8.
The Other Chewbacca
Peter Mayhew has played the lovable Wookie from the beginning, and of course reprised the role in Episode 7. It was great to see the actor involved with the franchise again, but his advancing age limited what he could do in the suit. Enter Finnish thespian Joonas Suotamo. He spent five months working with Mayhew to perfect Chewie’s movements and then filmed some scenes for the movie. Suotamo won’t reveal which ones he’s in, but it’s safe to assume he handled Chewie’s action bits. With the Wookie presumably back for Episode 8, it looks like the role is in good hands even if Mayhew doesn’t return.
RIP Poe Dameron
Oscar Isaac’s charming and charismatic Poe Dameron established himself as the Han Solo for a new generation, and his chemistry with John Boyega’s Finn is a big reason why Episode 8 is so anticipated. But things could have been very different. Initially, J.J. Abrams was going to kill the pilot off in the beginning of the film, something that made Isaac somewhat hesitant to take the role. After their meeting, Abrams thought it over some more, and rewrote the script so that Poe was alive for the whole movie. He enthusiastically sent Isaac an email, and the rest is history. More Poe Dameron is always a good thing.
Attacking Finn with an electric melee weapon on Takodana, the stormtrooper dubbed “TR-8R” by fans quickly became an Internet sensation and a viral meme. He was so popular with viewers that Lucasfilm gave him a backstory in the canon material. As revealed in the book Before the Awakening, his call signal is FN-2199 – leading to the nickname “Nines.” He trained with Finn, which is why he feels so betrayed. Unfortunately, Nines is blasted away by Han Solo, so his 15 seconds of fame is all he’ll get in the series. Still, TR-8R has become a part of Star Wars history and left a big impact.
Finn: Space Pirate
A big reason why The Force Awakens was so successful was its script, and veteran scribe Lawrence Kasdan deserves a ton of credit. Not only did he help the franchise find its old voice, he suggested one of the key elements of protagonist Finn. The character was first thought of as a space pirate or merchant marine, before Kasdan said he should be a stormtrooper that defected from the First Order. A novel idea for the films, that angle gave Force Awakens something that made it stand out and an interesting concept to explore. A space pirate would be too similar to Han Solo.
A Male Captain Phasma
Stormtrooper leader Captain Phasma was billed as the first female Star Wars villain, which was an exciting prospect. The character was first conceived as a traditional male captain and was later changed. When the now-famous image of the Episode 7 cast gathered hit the web, many writers complained about there being only one new female face: Daisy Ridley. In response, the team decided to gender-flip Phasma and make her a woman. Unfortunately, the character wasn’t so memorable, so hopefully the sequels put her to better use. It’d be a shame if Gwendoline Christie was wasted for an entire trilogy.
Anakin’s Force Ghost
Force ghosts are a big part of Star Wars mythology, but they do not appear in The Force Awakens. It was an idea Lucasfilm toyed with, though, and they went as far as to design concept art of an Anakin Skywalker spirit that was torn between the Dark and Light sides of the Force. The idea was to have prequel star Hayden Christensen return and play the part, but it was ultimately scrapped. Force ghosts could still be a part of the sequel trilogy, but Anakin probably won’t be one of them. Christensen’s recent comments about his career suggest he wouldn’t be interested in snagging a quick paycheck, so it sounds like he’s done.
More Maz Kanata
Alien Maz Kanata plays a brief, yet important role in The Force Awakens, helping the heroes out of a tight spot and providing words of wisdom. She’s returning for Episode 8, but she could have had a larger part in Episode 7. Maz is shown to be in possession of Luke’s original lightsaber, and the script originally called for her to steal the weapon from Kylo Ren’s crew and relay that information to the group in a flashback sequence. Instead, Maz says how she acquired the lightsaber is a question for another day, so hopefully it’ll be answered in the sequels.
C-3PO’s Red Arm
The usually golden protocol droid featured a new red arm in The Force Awakens, with its origins unexplained. Even more puzzling is that in his final shot; C-3PO is shown waving at the Millennium Falcon with his standard golden arm brought back. That’s because the robot’s changing limb was a subject actor Anthony Daniels and Abrams disagreed over, and they found a way to compromise. While Threepio had the red arm initially, Abrams restored the old look for Daniels by the end of the film, finding a nice compromise between the two. It would appear the golden rod won’t have red anymore.
Kylo Ren’s Table of Ashes
When interrogating Rey after the invasion at Takodana, villain Kylo Ren removes his helmet on-camera for the first time and places it on a table of ashes. Many fans have wondered why Kylo has that and what exactly the ashes are from. In an interview, Abrams revealed that they are the remains of the enemies Kylo Ren has killed, adding a creepy new layer to a character that was already somewhat disturbing. It’s unnerving to imagine Kylo collecting the ashes and storing them for safe keeping, so we’re happy he wasn’t able to do this with Han Solo.