For all intents and purposes, Disney/Lucasfilm has done a good job of keeping the veil of secrecy surrounding J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens firmly in place. With just over four months to go until the film's anticipated theatrical premiere, we still don't have an official plot synopsis. Still, with its December 2015 release date sneaking up on us, the time has come to start peeling back the curtain a little bit.
Thanks to a new EW cover story, fans have been treated to a gallery of images and learned some intriguing details about Force Awakens villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). But the officially sanctioned tidbits aren't stopping there. Abrams, he of the infamous mystery box, was even willing to share some new information on the returning heroes.
Ever since Mark Hamill stated that The Force Awakens will be more about the new characters, one of the prevailing questions about Episode VII has concerned the amount of screen time the original trilogy heroes (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia) will receive this time around. Their presence in the new movie is one of many reasons why fans are so enthusiastic, as illustrated by the loving reception Han's now iconic "Chewie, we're home" line received. Fortunately, it seems like those looking forward to the nostalgia trip won't be too disappointed.
The EW feature on Abrams and the film's development notes that Harrison Ford has been classified as one of The Force Awakens' leads, but did not expand beyond that. As fans are left to theorize Han's role in the story, it really shouldn't come as a surprise that out of the "big three," he's the one with the biggest part to play. Between the rumor mill and footage we've seen in the trailers, it's easy to piece a scenario where Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) meet up with Captain Solo and Chewbacca during their escape from the First Order on Jakku. From there, Han will apparently accompany the youngsters on their journey... wherever that might be.
However, things aren't so clear on the Skywalker twins. As of now, it's unknown how much of Luke and Leia we'll see. Those characters (especially Luke) are among The Force Awakens' biggest mysteries, as neither one of them has been shown in any marketing materials (outside of a glimpse of Carrie Fisher in the San Diego Comic-Con behind-the-scenes reel). That said, we did find out one juicy detail about Leia. Somehow, she has come into possession of Luke's original lightsaber (the one he used in The Empire Strikes Back).
That revelation will raise a great number of questions. That particular lightsaber has been a frequent subject of Star Wars rumors, with some suspecting it's the item that kick starts the plot in the opening sequence of Force Awakens. Given what we've heard, a distinct possibility is that Leia is keeping the weapon safe so that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands, but since we still know very little about the core narrative, it's difficult to say for sure.
Perhaps the answers to these inquiries will lie in the film's upcoming third trailer, which will be released in Fall 2015.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars anthology film on May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX has not received an official release date.