When marketing materials began releasing for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, revealing new Stormtrooper, TIE Fighter, and X-Wing designs, some long-time fans weren’t immediately in love with the changes. Why would director J.J. Abrams be altering all of these iconic weapons, characters, and vehicles? The answers are both simple and brilliant.
Over three decades have passed since the Return of the Jedi when The Force Awakens begins and the galaxy has changed. Characters we knew and love have aged quite a bit, the Galactic Empire has been replaced (having evolved into the First Order), and what was once a Rebellion against the governing state is now a Republic-sponsored Resistance force. The evolution of the political landscape and characters matches the changes in technology but the best bit here is that Disney is having their cake and eating it too, because all of those classic designs are coming back in the Anthology spinoff movies.
Where Star Wars 7 introduces an entire new line of merchandise based on new Stormtroopers, new vehicles, new characters, etc., the next release in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, goes right back to the era of the film that started it all. Taking place before the events of Episode IV – A New Hope, the very first live-action spinoff movie in Star Wars canon follows a team of Rebels putting everything on the line to recover plans for the Imperial superweapon known as the Death Star.
Because Rogue One is set in the original trilogy era, fans who love the original aesthetic are getting it all back. New toys again of everything we loved before! Set photos from the production director Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla) Rogue One revealed classic Stormtroopers and weapons back in August and new leaked photos acquired by TMZ show an original X-Wing on set as well, proving again how Lucasfilm is dedicated to crafting Star Wars films going forward using practical sets and effects (see: this battle and this casting) where possible:
Note the original design details that match the Incom T-65 X-Wing designs from the original Star Wars trilogy. These ones, flown by the likes of Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, have the four separate engine thrusters and stacked Strike foils (S-Foil wings). By comparison, the Resistance starfighters that appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens were newer models known as the T-70s, and featured a larger shared engine on each side that split between the wings. The core elements are the same but the sleeker T-70 wings are narrower and when its wings are closed, they sit side-by-side as opposed to stacking:
With the title of the this first Anthology film being Star Wars: Rogue One, we have even more reason to wonder now if it explains the origins of “Rogue Squadron,” the most elite of Rebel Alliance pilots who had their own comic series and video games. We’re also curious if other familiar starfighters and starships from the lore will make an appearance, from the aged Y-Wing bombers to the X-Wing precursor known as the Z-95 Headhunter, also made by the Incom Corporation (which appeared in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series).
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.