Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm are expanding the Star Wars brand to fit the model of a modern shared cinematic universe, complete with inter-connected storytelling across novels and comics books (Star Wars: Shattered Empire), TV shows (Star Wars Rebels), spinoff/standalone movies (Star Wars: Rogue One), and of course the main 'Episodes', starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Picking up thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Force Awakens - which J.J. Abrams directed from a script he co-penned with Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) - will explore the next chapter in the ongoing struggles for freedom and liberty in a galaxy far, far away.
A number of established (and beloved) Star Wars characters will appear in Force Awakens - including, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). However, the film will focus more on a new generation of heroes and villains in the Star Wars universe, and those newcomers are highlighted in the latest batch of Force Awakens images (though, two well-known droids also make an appearance here).
EW debuted the following collection of Star Wars: The Force Awakens images and screenshots; you can peruse through them at your leisure, below.
Pictured here are Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega), on the run from stormtroopers on the desert planet of Jakku (not Tatooine) in The Force Awakens. Rey has long survived by scavenging for material among the various ship graveyards of Jakku, while Finn starts out as a stormtrooper before he goes on the run and teams up with Rey - as teased in the second Force Awakens trailer.
Finn, as shown above, crash-lands on the planet Jakku in Force Awakens, leading him to eventually cross paths with Rey. What event leads to his crash (and subsequent abandonment of his stormtrooper post) in Force Awakens, remains to be revealed.
Rey, pictured above, picks up the astromech droid BB-8 during her travels on Jakku in Force Awakens. It's been rumored that the droid carries an important artifact (read: a MacGuffin in the Force Awakens narrative), much like his predecessor R2-D2 did back in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. And speaking of R2...
R2-D2 and C-3PO (again played by Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels, respectively) will show up during Force Awakens. However, as you can see above, C-3PO now has a red-colored left hand/forearm, as a result of either some specific event to be revealed... or simply because, after thirty years, even droids in the Star Wars universe need to have parts replaced sometimes.
Oscar Isaac, pictured above, plays the X-Wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron in Force Awakens. It's been confirmed that Poe's fate eventually becomes intertwined with those of Rey and Finn, as the former is a member of The Resistance (formerly known as the Rebel Alliance) and carries out an important mission for a "certain princess" in the film (as Isaac worded it).
Kylo Ren, pictured above, is played by Adam Driver (Girls) and serves The First Order - the new title adapted by the remnants of the Galactic Empire - in Force Awakens. Rumors continue to circulate about the character and his possible connections to now-deceased Dark Force users (like Darth Vader), while hardcore Star Wars fans have continued to debate the qualities/merits of his cross-guard lightsaber design.
Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie has donned chrome stormtrooper armor to play Captain Phasma in Force Awakens, as pictured above. Not a whole lot is known about the character yet (her badass walking abilities aside), though it's rumored that Phasma ends up pursuing Finn (and, as a result, Rey and Poe) when he goes awol... and that she may posses some weapon-fighting talents that involve more than just blasters...
Domhnall Gleeson plays General Hux in Force Awakens and, as illustrated by the above image, the character is a high-ranking official of The First Order. Gleeson has teased that Hux is "evil", for certain, but whether he has a specific goal in mind beyond "Get more power" (and/or if he uses the Dark Side of the Force to achieve his goals), that continues to be the subject of speculation for now.
Kylo Ren, as shown above, carries out missions for The First Order in Force Awakens - which, in this case, involves attacking (and burning) a Jakku village. It's possible that Ren serves The First Order in a fashion that resembles how The Inquisitor (voiced by Jason Isaacs) served The Galactic Empire in Star Wars Rebels season one; namely, by hunting down individuals (and/or objects) with strong connections to The Force.
Last, but certainly not least, pictured above are Abrams and Kasdan working on the set of Force Awakens (with their scripts colored red for security purposes). Kasdan is going to continue playing in the Star Wars sandbox in the future, as he's now officially confirmed to be co-writing the forthcoming young Han Solo film with his son, Jon Kasdan. Abrams, on the other hand, informed EW that he will not be back to direct Star Wars: Episode IX (as has been rumored in the recent past).
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in U.S. theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX does not have an official release date yet.