As Disney and Lucasfilm ramp up the marketing for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens ahead of its December 2015 release date, they’re making sure that the heroes and villains have equal time in the spotlight. Characters like Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) are prominently featured in the trailers and TV spots, setting them up as intimidating new threats to the galaxy.

Star Wars is a franchise known for its memorable evildoers, and a big reason why so many of them have resonated with millions of people is in their appearance. Darth Vader and Boba Fett just look cool in action, and that tradition seems to continue in Force Awakens if a new image of Phasma is anything to go by.

In the lead-up to their Star Wars 7 cover issue this week, Empire shared an exclusive picture of Captain Phasma taking part in a battle. Based on her surroundings, she seems to be on the desert planet Jakku, perhaps in the rumored opening sequence (which sees First Order troops invade a Jakku village). Empire is also teasing an in-depth interview with Christie, so stay tuned for more Phasma related content soon.

Captain Phasma Empire image Disney Announces Star Wars Partnership With Google; New Captain Phasma Image


The bigger news today is in Disney’s announcement that they are continuing their collaboration with Google (after working together during the #ForceFriday YouTube live stream unveiling event) to give fans the opportunity to share in immersive experiences that connect with The Force Awakens. The partnership consists of two initiatives: Awaken the Force Within and Google Cardboard Virtual Reality.

The Awaken the Force Within program begins today. Users can log on to google.com/starwars and decide if they want to be on the Light Side or Dark Side of the Force. Once the allegiance is selected, various Google apps will transform to reflect the path chosen. Special experiences have been developed for apps such as Google Calendar, Chrome, and YouTube. There are also added features to discover with Gmail, Google Translate, and Google Search. Interestingly, it’s Rey (and not Finn with the blue lightsaber) who represents the Light Side, suggesting she’s the more Force sensitive out of the two.

Star Wars 7 Poster Banner Disney Announces Star Wars Partnership With Google; New Captain Phasma Image


On December 2, via the official Star Wars app, the Google Cardboard Virtual Reality will be released. It is a first of its kind VR experience, telling a serialized narrative and revealing exclusive content that is connected to the opening of Star Wars 7. Fans will obviously take great interest in that content, seeing if any of the clues presented validate the various theories that have been floating around for months. As part of the release, Verizon stores nationwide will feature four Google Cardboard viewer designs with popular Star Wars images.

The VR experience was created by ILMxLAB (an entertainment lab from Lucasfilm), Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound. The three companies worked together to craft something that was completely immersive, using the group’s expertise in state-of-the-art special effects, design, and artistry. It will be available to anyone with an Android or iOS device to ensure maximum inclusion. The VR tour of Jakku on the Star Wars Facebook page was a hit, so this will likely be another rousing success for the Disney marketing machine.

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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Sources: Disney, Empire