When George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith released in 2005, people thought that was the end of the Star Wars saga — the biggest entertainment franchise the world had ever seen. But thankfully for us moviegoers, we hadn’t yet made our last trip to the galaxy far, far away. Not by a longshot. Disney acquired Lucasfilm seven years later, and subsequently announced Star Wars: Episode VII.
Fast forward three more years, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens released in theaters to overwhelming fanfare. It was a worldwide phenomenon before it released, but no one knew how much until it broke virtually every box office record standing in its way, including the big one: highest-grossing film of all time.
And why wouldn’t it? The film capitalized on nostalgia in a major way; not just of the original trilogy, but of Star Wars as a whole (people love the prequel trilogy, too!). Abrams and the rest of the cast and crew’s love for Star Wars showed in the final product, which is why there is an abundance of hidden secrets only longtime (or well-informed) fans could’ve spotted.
With Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story having recently released, and Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII on the way, we’ve decided to run through some of these hidden gems. Here are 15 Secrets Hidden In The Force Awakens.
15. Wilhelm Scream
Have you ever heard something in a movie and thought that maybe you had heard it before? Fear not, readers; you’re not alone. Hollywood studios love to reuse sets, sound effects, and even animations. Sometimes, they reuse such things just to keep costs down on films, but other times it’s just for fun. One of those fun, in-jokes is the use of the Wilhelm Scream. The sound originates from the 1951 film Distant Drums, in which a man screams after being bitten by an alligator.
Dubbed the Wilhelm Scream, the shout itself isn’t anything special, but it gained popularity after sound designer Ben Burtt used it in George Lucas’ original Star Wars film, for a stormtrooper who falls off a ledge after Luke Skywalker shot him. Ever since then, the scream has been used in various Lucasfilm projects (as well as in countless other movies), including in The Force Awakens. It can be heard when Finn and Poe steal a TIE fighter, shoot up the hangar, and escape Kylo Ren’s star destroyer.
14. Millennium Falcon’s new rectangular radar dish
There were a lot of callbacks and references to the original trilogy in The Force Awakens, many of which revolved around Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. The first one we hear is Rey calling the Falcon garbage, which is exactly what Luke Skywalker did in A New Hope before falling in love with the hunk of junk in the end, like the rest of us.
In Return of the Jedi, when Han goes with Leia and Luke to Endor, he leaves the Falcon in Lando’s hands for the big battle against the second Death Star. Of course, being protective of his ship, he makes Lando promise him not to get a scratch on her. But when you’re going up against the Empire and Death Star 2.0, anything can happen.
During the battle, the Falcon clips a part of the Death Star and its circular radar dish falls off. So, when it came time to rebuild the Falcon for The Force Awakens, the production team gave the ship an upgrade with a new radar dish — but this time it’s rectangular instead of circular.
13. The Tumbler Batmobile under the Falcon
In 2014, The Force Awakens and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were both filming at the same time, so directors J.J. Abrams and Zack Snyder had a friendly tug-of-war when it came to including crossover easter eggs and such. It all began with Snyder tweeting an image of Henry Cavill dressed as a Sith while wielding a red lightsaber, which Abrams responded by tweeting an image of C-3PO overlooking a city like Batman. Over time, the friendly rivalry escalated.
When one of the Batmobiles had been reported stolen, Snyder responded by tweeting an image of GCPD officers arresting stormtroopers for the crime. Abrams must have thought it was funny because he responded with his own gag, showing the Tumbler Batmobile from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy attached to the underside of the Millennium Falcon. This version of the Tumbler may not come in black, but it still manages to stay hidden, just like the Batmobile.
12. Hallway scene from Rey’s vision
A little more than midway through the movie, Rey becomes drawn to Anakin’s lightsaber, the same lightsaber that Luke lost during his fight with Darth Vader at the Cloud City. The moment she touches the saber, she has a Force vision. It was a harrowing experience for her and a puzzling one for the fans. What did she see, and what’s the significance of her vision? Does her being drawn to the saber indicate some sort of association to the Skywalker line?
These are questions that fans are still asking today, and we may not discover the true meaning behind her vision until Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII releases. One thing’s for sure, though, part of her vision referenced a big moment in Star Wars history: Luke’s aforementioned duel with Vader. In that duel, Luke and Vader end up in a hallway, the same hallway Rey sees in her vision. It was a big moment in the saga, so it makes sense that it would have some sort of importance to the Force.
11. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Star Wars tends to have a lot of running gags throughout their movies, such as a stormtrooper (or clone) bumping his head against a door. But the biggest one of them all is the line, “I have a bad feeling about this.” In George Lucas’ Star Wars film, Luke Skywalker is the first person to say the line, which he blurts out when the Millennium Falcon is being pulled towards the Death Star.
Han Solo repeats the phrase later on when they are stuck in the trash compactor. Since then, every Star Wars film has had at least one character repeat that phrase (or a version of it), including the prequel trilogy, Rogue One, and of course, The Force Awakens. In the latter film, Han utters the line when he realizes that a group of Rathtars has been accidentally set loose aboard his freighter. The question is, who will say the line in Episode VIII?
10. R2-KT droid
R2-D2 may be the most famous astromech droid in the galaxy, but there are other Artoo units out there, too, who’ve seen their fair share of combat — including R2-KT. The pink-plated droid fought alongside R2-D2 and the 501st Legion during the Clone Wars. In fact, she once saved Anakin Skywalker from being killed during the Battle of Christophis! R2-KT has appeared in various battles over the years, but there’s a real-life story behind the daring droid.
As some of you may know, the 501st Legion is a global fan organization that has been officially recognized by Lucasfilm and entered into canon. A while ago, Katie Johnson, the daughter of the group’s founder, Albin Johnson, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, so Albin repainted one of their Artoo droids into Katie’s favorite color, pink, as a way to honor her memory. R2-KT (for Katie) first appeared in The Clone Wars animated series and then later reappears three times in The Force Awakens.
9. Kelvin Ridge
J.J. Abrams is one of those directors that likes to have certain easter eggs appear throughout his movies. He’s tossed in several fleeting mentions to his grandfather’s name, Harry Kelvin, in his films, such as in Star Trek. For instance, the Starfleet ship, U.S.S. Kelvin, appears in Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek universe. In fact, it’s the very first ship audiences are introduced to in the director’s first Star Trek film. Since then, Paramount has officially named Abrams’ Star Trek universe as the Kelvin Timeline.
So when the director moved away from the Kelvin Timeline and into a galaxy far, far away, he kept the Kelvin tradition going. Early on in The Force Awakens, Rey hears a scavenger try to capture BB-8. She ends up saving BB-8 and then points him in the direction of Niima Outpost, but warns him to “stay off Kelvin Ridge.” We don’t know why she said that, but there must have been a good reason — an in-universe reason, that is.
8. History behind the Starkiller name
Star Wars fans will more than likely already know this, but for the uninitiated, the Starkiller name (i.e. Starkiller Base) has a long history within the Star Wars franchise. When George Lucas was still writing the script for his original Star Wars film, Luke Skywalker’s name was actually Luke Starkiller. Lucas eventually changed the name because he felt “a lot of people were confusing him with someone like Charles Manson. It had very unpleasant connotations.” Despite the change, the Starkiller name lived on in various ways.
For instance, when Lucasfilm and LucasArts attempted to bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, they did so by making the video game The Force Unleashed. In that game, Darth Vader’s apprentice, Galen Marek, was named Starkiller. Unfortunately, after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, The Force Unleashed was removed from canon — but the Starkiller name would still live on. The giant, planet-destroying space station in The Force Awakens was codenamed Starkiller Base, likely to pay homage to both Lucas’ original vision and the well-liked video game series.
7. The flags outside Maz’s cantina
Maz Kanata has lived for a long time, through the galaxy’s several ups and downs, and the flags outside her castle on Takodana are representative of that fact. When Han, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 walk up towards the entrance of Maz’s castle, dozens (if not hundreds) of flags can be seen hanging above them. The flags allowed Lucasfilm the perfect opportunity to reference numerous people, clans, and organizations throughout the galaxy without the references being obvious.
Upon close inspection, audiences will notice Mandalorian flags, Boba Fett’s logo, and Ziro the Hutt’s tattoos, as well as the logo for the real-life fan organization, 501st Legion. Interestingly, during the theatrical version of the film, Anakin Skywalker’s pod racing logo appeared on one of the flags, but in the Blu-ray release of the film, the logo had disappeared. Why the studio decided to remove the logo is unknown, and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
6. Kylo Ren mentions using Clones while talking to General Hux
During the prequel trilogy (and the era of the Republic), the Grand Army of the Republic consisted entirely of clone troopers, whose DNA was based on that of the bounty hunter Jango Fett. They were elite warriors who fought alongside the Jedi during the Clone Wars. But when the Galactic Empire formed, the clone program was abandoned, and more loyal, patriotic volunteers were instead employed in the Stormtrooper Corps. This practice continued with the First Order.
In The Force Awakens, we learn that the First Order takes their candidates from birth and trains them, throughout their lives, for battle. Perhaps that form of training makes them more loyal — but there are exceptions. FN-2187, aka Finn, left the First Order and joined the Resistance. Perhaps the stormtroopers weren’t as loyal as the First Order thought, which is why Kylo Ren postulated to General Hux that Supreme Leader Snoke should consider creating a clone army. After all, clones could be programmed to remain loyal. One need only look at what happened with Order 66 and the extinction of the Jedi for proof od that.
5. Finn’s stormtrooper number, 2187, and its history in Star Wars
As previously mentioned, we learn in The Force Awakens that the First Order kidnaps children at birth and trains them to become stormtroopers. That is what happened to Finn, and that is why, until he meets Poe Dameron, the only name he ever knew was FN-2187, his stormtrooper number. At first, it looks like that number was chosen at random — but it wasn’t. The number 2187 has a long history within the Star Wars saga.
In the original Star Wars film, Luke, Han, and Chewbacca attempt to rescue Princess Leia, who is being held captive aboard the Death Star. They find out that she was in Cell Block 1138 (a reference to George Lucas’ THX 1138 film) and being held in Cell 2187. At the time, the number was a reference to the short film 21-87, created by Arthur Lipsett, who reportedly inspired Lucas to create his first film. Lucasfilm continued that tradition with Finn’s trooper number in The Force Awakens.
4. Less than 12 parsecs, not 14
When it comes to creating not just a new world but a new galaxy, things can get a bit confusing. Sometimes, filmmakers can’t get all the minutiae right, and that shows in a particular gaff in the original trilogy. In the first Star Wars film, Luke and Obi-Wan were seeking out a pilot with a fast enough ship to get them to Alderaan without any “Imperial entanglements.” Of course, Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon were the best bet, as long as the Falcon was a “fast ship.”
Proving that his ship was indeed the fastest in the galaxy (while boasting at the same time), Han told Obi-Wan that his ship made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (not 14, as Rey would have you believe). Since a parsec is a measurement of distance, a story emerged of the Kessel Run requiring smugglers to go through several obstacles and frequent jumps in-and-out of lightspeed, thereby affirming Han’s usage of the term.
3. Star Destroyer Inflictor on Jakku
The final chapter in George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy concluded with the Rebel Alliance destroying the Empire’s second Death Star. And with the deaths of both Darth Vader and Darth Sidious, the Sith had been destroyed. Soon after that, the New Republic was born, but the fight against the remnants of the Empire was far from over.
A little over a year after the Battle of Endor, the remaining Imperial forces made their final stand above and on the planet Jakku. The Empire suffered significant losses during the Battle of Jakku, which ended up becoming the final major battle between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire.
In the aftermath, the Empire’s last Super Star Destroyer was lost and the Star Destroyer Inflictor was scuttled into the planet, just outside of Niima Outpost, where it remained for decades being raided by scavengers (including Rey). With the Imperial fleet all but destroyed, the Empire signed the Galactic Concordance and ended the Galactic Civil War.
2. The big cameos
By now, even casual Star Wars fans are aware that James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, appeared as a stormtrooper in The Force Awakens. Craig played the trooper tasked with standing watch over Rey after Kylo Ren had interrogated her, though she managed to successfully perform a Jedi Mind Trick on him in order to escape. 007 was far from the only person to cameo in the movie, of course. Filmmaker Kevin Smith, composer Michael Giacchino, and Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich all played stormtroopers; and then there’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who played a First Order officer.
But cameos weren’t limited to the Dark side of the movie: Game of Thrones stars Miltos Yerolemou, Jessica Henwick, and Emun Elliott played a patron in Maz Kanata’s cantina, Resistance pilot Jess Testor, and a Resistance fighter, respectively. J.J. Abrams’ longtime friend Greg Grunberg (pictured above) played Resistance pilot Snap Wexley. And finally, Simon Pegg had a small role as a minor adversary to Rey, Unkar Plutt, who apparently managed to obtain the Millennium Falcon.
1. Original trilogy nostalgia
It’s no secret that The Force Awakens had many similarities to George Lucas’ original Star Wars film, and that was a very intentional move on the filmmakers’ part. The film was always going to be built on nostalgia more than anything, and J.J. Abrams has acknowledged the movies’ similarities, saying the film was “a bridge and a kind of reminder; the audience needed to be reminded what Star Wars is.” He has a point, as there’s no denying the film had more than its fair share of callbacks to the original trilogy.
For instance, when Finn meets Han aboard the Millennium Falcon, he accidentally activates the Holochess game, and he even finds Luke’s combat remote from A New Hope. Then, after Han, Finn, and Chewie had Captain Phasma disable the shield, Han asks if they have a garbage chute they could throw her down. There are plenty of references in the film — some hidden; some not. Be sure to read up on all of them by clicking HERE.
What other secrets are hidden within The Force Awakens? Let us know in the comments.