The long-awaited full trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has finally arrived, and while it certainly delivered on the spectacle front, it left a little something to be desired in the story department. We may now know the likes of Rey and Finn better than ever, and we’ve finally heard the menacing Kylo Ren speak in that gravely Sith baritone of his, but what’s the premise of the film all about? What are the motivations of the Knight of Ren and his First Order comrades? What exactly have Han Solo, Leia Organa, and the rest of the old gang been up to across the past three decades?
As it turns out, there’s more nods to the actual narrative than may be apparent on first blush; director J.J. Abrams may still be as infamously secretive as ever, but he’s nonetheless willing to pepper his sneak peek with lots of subtle hints. We’ve collected the ten biggest ones and paired them with the various rumors and inside intel that have been floating around online nerdom over the past few years in order to create the best picture yet of what The Force Awakens has in store for audiences in a little under two months. (Don’t worry, though – the only “spoilers” we get into are just background information on the movie’s characters, locations, and events.)
Sit back, strap in, and prepare to unearth 10 Clues from the New Force Awakens Trailer.
It’s all about Rey
It’s official now: as has been largely guessed for the past 18 months or so, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is the new protagonist of Episode VII: The Force Awakens – and, presumably, Episodes VIII and IX, as well. Her dominating screen time in the trailer, combined with her ubiquitousness on the various marketing materials, is enough to confirm this, but the voiceover narration that frames the teaser (more on this in a little bit) is the clincher.
So what do we know about her? She’s a lowly scavenger on the remote desert planet of Jakku, living a solitary and monotonous life that seems to consist mostly of combing through the wreckage of a battle that occurred 29 years previously (the last official conflict of the Galactic Civil War, which was depicted in the original trilogy). Her home is a downed AT-AT, and, according to the latest rumors, all of her efforts go to a gang of thieves and gangsters in return for the barest of water rations.
That humble origin sounds suspiciously similar to a certain Anakin and Luke Skywalker from the previous trilogies…
And Han, too
In Episode IV: A New Hope, the protagonist of the story may be young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), but the main character of the plot is clearly Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), who, in short order, begins Luke’s training as a Jedi Knight; brings Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the Millennium Falcon into the picture; and is instrumental in helping Luke and the Rebels destroy the Death Star. Similarly, in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) is the central character of the story, but Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) is the driving force of the narrative, leading the Naboo mission, discovering Annie, and battling the Sith.
Look for a similar narrative structure to be at play in The Force Awakens, with Rey – as just explained – taking on the role of protagonist and another figure assuming the duties of central character. And who might this be? Why, Han, the individual who easily gets the second largest amount of screen time in the trailer (and most of its dialogue, too). Look for the venerable smuggler to help get Rey off of Jakku and started on her path to fulfill her destiny.
Rey’s new ship, the Millennium Falcon?
This is one plot point that the trailer doesn’t explicitly state or show, but it’s also one that gets a lot of contextual evidence for it – particularly considering all the shots the audience receives of Rey standing around or actually interacting with Captain Han Solo and his first mate, Chewbacca.
There’s also a concrete basis for such a supposition, as well: a recently-issued Topps trading card showing Rey sitting in the pilot’s chair in the Millennium Falcon, with Chewie at her side. While this certainly could represent just one specific scene in the movie, there’s definitely the sense, in typical Star Wars fashion, of one generation passing the torch on to the next: BB-8 replaces R2-D2 as the heroes’ astromech droid, for instance, and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is looking to carry on in Darth Vader’s footsteps (more on this shortly). Rey and Finn (John Boyega) taking over the Falcon – for whatever reason, and in whatever fashion – would be the most fitting manifestation of this theme yet.
The Jedi are still extinct
In case the rather conspicuous absence of Jedi Knight (or is that Jedi Master now?) Luke Skywalker wasn’t enough to drive the point home, Rey’s earnest questioning of Han Solo makes it official: the Jedi Order, wiped out 53 years before the start of the movie (in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), is still non-existent.
In all of the new Expanded Universe novels, comic books, and videogames that are now being released to help fill in the gap between the original and sequel trilogies, it’s revealed that the New Republic was established in the months immediately following Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – so if Luke hasn’t founded the new wave of Jedi yet, there must be a very specific story reason for it.
Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if the creation of the new Jedi Order – with young Rey perhaps at the forefront of the development – proves to be the overarching narrative of the sequel trilogy, with the Jedi coming to a triumphant return to glory in Episode IX’s climax (and thereby providing a ready-made premise for Episodes X through XII, which, yes, Disney is already greedily eyeing).
The Sith’s return to power
Although the Jedi may (still) be done, the Dark Lords of the Sith are on the move again. Well – sort of.
Abrams and the rest of the crew have given interviews referencing the Knights of Ren, a group that has been assumed to consist of Force wielders who cobble together their own red-hilted lightsabers and worship the Sith as something like fallen deities. Yesterday’s trailer confirms this hypothesis, showing young Kylo’s devotion to Darth Vader’s relics and Imperial worldview both. The addition of his mask’s voice synthesizer, which aims to emulate Lord Vader’s peculiar voice, is the icing on the Dark Side cake here.
But there’s even more to the picture. In the recent novel Star Wars: Aftermath, the Acolytes of the Beyond are introduced, a group of Sith Lord wannabes who dress like the late Darth Sidious and who wish to track down Vader’s lightsaber in order to send it to its master in the afterlife. The head devotee makes the rather ominous statement that his (or her) order is not violent – yet. The implications of a larger gameplan, doing the Dark Lords of the Sith homage in death, are immense.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it should come as no surprise, continues the saga’s tradition of paralleling events from one trilogy to the next. In A New Hope, Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) gets taken captive and is interrogated by her father, Darth Vader, in order to learn as much about the Rebel Alliance as possible – more specifically, the location of its secret base. In the teaser, audiences are treated to seeing the echo of that scene play out between intrepid X-wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren, presumably following the same basic gist as its predecessor. (The wrinkle here, of course, is that the Knight of Ren attempt to use the Dark Side of the Force as opposed to relying upon an Interrogator Droid.)
It is has been suggested for months now that Poe’s incarceration is what causes him to meet Finn, the renegade stormtrooper who is looking for a way out of the First Order and into freedom. Their impromptu team-up is what leads them to the surface of Jakku and the introduction to Rey, and it seems to create a relationship that will be among the more dynamic moving forward in the trilogy.
(Viewers should expect that a similar prisoner scene – Finn, Han, and Chewie on their knees, with their hands behind their heads – should also have a clear progenitor in the earlier films.)
Well before the identity of the director was revealed or the name of the movie was announced, the crew behind Force Awakens began beating the marketing drumbeat, stressing over and over again their reliance upon the more practical special effects of the original trilogy over George Lucas’s love affair with digital visual effects in the prequels. What such a refrain misses is the fact that several characters, creatures, and environments will still be computer-rendered, and the shot of a brand-new (or, rather, run-down) droid standing outside a visually arresting building is the audience’s first indication of such a reality.
Don’t think such CG characters will be limited to the occasional background player, either – Lucasfilm has already confirmed that such power players as Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), the would-be successor to Emperor Palpatine, and Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), a renowned pirate (whose “castle” is most likely the colorful structure seen above), will be performance-captured. Viewers will have to wait until December 18 in order to see what these digital creations will look like, however.
It wouldn’t be Star Wars, of course, without the “Wars.”
The Galactic Civil War that ended shortly after the original trilogy is due to reignite in Episode VII: The Force Awakens, with the forces of Supreme Leader Snoke’s First Order and Leia Organa’s Resistance meeting on the battlefield. Actually, make that battlefields – there are dogfights in the skies over Jakku, Takodana, and the mysterious ice planet that the Starkiller Base is on. Concentrating so much on in-atmosphere battles is an intriguing turn, as it’s only barely been seen in the Star Wars saga to date, perhaps most notably – and just barely – in Revenge of the Sith’s Battle of Coruscant.
But there’s more to the planetary action than meets the eye. The exact nature of the Starkiller project has been a source of contention in the fandom for quite some time, ever since Lucasfilm officially listed it as “an ice planet converted into a stronghold of the First Order and armed with a fiercely destructive new weapon capable of destroying entire star systems.” Does that mean an entire planet has been retrofitted into a weapon, an even bigger – and more literal – version of the original films’ Death Star?
As impractical as it may sound, the new trailer provides us with a resounding “yes!” A trench not unlike the first Death Star’s is clearly visible among the snow and trees in the preview – which means that the Battle of Starkiller may have some striking similarities to the Battle of Yavin (and its legendary trench run).
Lupita Nyong’o’s portrayal as the pirate Maz Kanata remains one of the more highly guarded elements of Episode VII, and the trailer keeps the alien’s CG design secret. But it still manages to touch upon the mysterious character in some way: her dialogue.
Much like how the first teaser utilized Supreme Leader Snoke’s voiceover as the framing device of the entire piece, so, too, does the full-length trailer, using Maz’s interactions with Rey to bookend the sneak peek. “Who are you?” the mystical outlaw asks, before saying, “The Force, it’s calling to you. Just let it in.”
(It should be noted that there is some debate in the fandom over who, exactly, says that last line – is it Maz or Princess Leia? – but the thematic motif still stands either way.)
What’s going on here? Much like how Luke Skywalker needed a bit of prodding on his way to fulfilling his destiny, all signs (and rumors!) point to Rey requiring the same level of cajoling. It just so happens that Maz Kanata can provide such an admonition; she’s more than meets the eye and has a rather big-picture view of current events, helping to point Rey in the right direction to embrace the Force, both figuratively and literally. Think of her as this trilogy’s equivalent of Yoda.
The lack of Luke
It’s harder to get more big-picture than Luke Skywalker, the last of the old Jedi and the first of the new. The rumors and speculation regarding Luke’s state of mind and future character arc have been all over the place, making it hard to pin down any exact specifics of his motivations. What has been consistent, however, is his role in the plot – or, rather, the lack thereof.
It turns out that Master Skywalker has the smallest amount of screen time of any of the (leading) cast in The Force Awakens, and this is because his current whereabouts are a large unknown for the rest of the galaxy. Finding him becomes the crux of the film, the central driving factor that causes all the other story beats to fall into place – Finn and Poe meeting, Rey getting off of Jakku, the giant battle against Starkiller. It’s easily the boldest and riskiest move Abrams and the rest of his filmmaking team have made, and whether it pays off or not will only be seen in two months’ time. For now, his lack of presence (at all!) in the preview is enough to tell us that the basic gist of the rumors is dead-on.
Now just to find out where he is and what he’s been up to…
Did we miss your favorite Easter egg in the full-length Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer? Do you have your own theories about what ramifications they have for the story of Episode VII and beyond? Be sure to share with everyone in the comments below.