Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, which director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8) co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) based on the earlier script draft from Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), has already broken pre-release ticket sales records, and is on course to set an opening box office weekend record too. The best part? We don't actually know that much about the film, other than it takes place three decades after Return of the Jedi and introduces a new generation of characters in a galaxy far, far away.
However, it you don't mind knowing just a little more about the film's young protagonists - Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) - and learning some interesting tidbits of information concerning The Force Awakens, then you should read on - and check out the latest images released from the seventh Star Wars live-action movie.
EW released a collection of Star Wars: The Force Awakens-themed magazine covers earlier today (at the time of writing this), and have now unveiled the following promotional stills for the film, along with details and quotes from the movie's cast. Check all that out, below:
These first two Star Wars: The Force Awakens pictures show Rey, dressed appropriately to survive in the harsh desert environment of the planet Jakku, her handy flying vehicle at her side. Ridley explained to EW that "[Rey's] been alone for a long time," as her family left her on Jakku when she was only five years old, and Rey has never stopped hoping for their return ever since then (something that the Force Awakens Japanese trailer alludes to).
One popular theory is that Rey is the daughter of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher), who were forced to leave her on Jakku to keep her hidden from The First Order (a.k.a. the organization formed by the remnants of the Galactic Empire) - similar to how Obi-Wan Kenobi hid Luke Skywalker on Tatooine - and this, in turn, is why Han and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) show up to take Rey on an adventure aboard the Millennium Falcon, with Finn in tow (see the image of Finn, Chewbacca, and Han above). That being said, rumor has it that Rey's parentage will remain a mystery even after The Force Awakens is done, so the matter remains open for speculation for the time being.
As for those fans who've theorized that Rey's staff is secretly a lightsaber, well, Ridley has bad news:
"[It's] just a staff. She’s a young woman in a galaxy by herself. It’s not primarily a weapon, it’s useful as well. It does all sorts of things roamin’ around Jakku. She uses it to defend herself. That’s really as far as it goes, unfortunately."
Judging by the above Star Wars: The Force Awakens images, Finn and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) - an X-Wing fighter who serves The Resistance a.k.a. a new Rebel Alliance - initially cross paths when Finn is still actively serving as a stormtrooper, and Poe has been captured by the First Order; see the scene in the third Force Awakens trailer, where Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is shown interrogating/torturing Poe for information. Moreover, it seems Finn is instrumental in rescuing Poe, making their reunion at one of the Resistance's bases (also shown in the latest trailers) a friendly one.
EW reports that the First Order's stormtroopers - which includes Finn - in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are "raised from childhood to serve this remnant of the scattered Imperial forces [and] are fed propaganda about the heroes of the Rebellion." For example, stormtroopers are taught that Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), whose own role in the Force Awakens' narrative remains under-wraps, is not a hero but "a villain who destroyed the benevolent Empire."
Also of interest: Abrams told EW that "We had women in stormtrooper costumes in the movie," so a certain stormtrooper captain (more on her momentarily) isn't the only woman working for The First Order in The Force Awakens.
Kylo Ren, shown about to face-off with Finn and Rey on a mysterious "ice planet", belongs to a group known as the Knights of Ren: a group of dark Force users whose seem to idolize the Sith, based on the footage of Kylo - who's shown swearing his devotion to the burnt remains of Darth Vader's mask - that has been featured in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers.
Ridley, for her part, told EW that Rey, Finn, and Kylo all start out in a similar place emotionally in the film (despite the differences in their allegiances), having said that "Rey, Finn, and Kylo, they all start off in a place where they have been led to feel like they’re wanting." And here's some related trivia: Captain Phasma's (Gwendoline Christie) chrome armor was originally the outfit worn by Kylo, before the Phasma character was added to the Force Awakens' ensemble.
The droid BB-8 is rumored to play a key role in The Force Awakens, much as astromech droid R2-D2 did in Episode IV: A New Hope. How much BB-8's mission in the film resembles R2-D2's remains to be seen, though Neal Scanlan (the head of the Force Awakens creature shop) offered the following, with regard to the difficulties of designing the different aliens' facial arrangements for the film versus BB-8's more simplistic design (with lens, aerials, and panels):
“You could move one component and the face would start to have a slight sad look about it or slightly aggressive. You want them to be able to talk to you before they move. And if they can do that, then the movement adds extra [characterization] on top.”
Lastly, many of you will no doubt recognize this Jakku inhabitants from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as they're the alien who was first featured in the promotional video for Lucasfilm's "Force for Change" charity contest (which launched shortly after the film had entered production back around mid-2014). Scanlan had the following to offer, regarding this "mysterious" supporting character (Luke, is that you? Probably not, so, moving on...):
"He was envisaged as this sort of seller who would lumber his way to the market every day, selling these rather weird and strange creatures, which he had in the cages. He's very slow, he's very laid back."
Star Wars: 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.