There's no denying that it's an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. Disney and Lucasfilm are planning annual cinematic releases in a galaxy far, far away, alternating between installments of the new sequel trilogy and so-called "Star Wars Stories" standalone projects that will explore other corners of the universe. It all gets started this December when J.J. Abrams' hotly-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters and kicks off a new era for the franchise.
Many longtime fans are excited to see classic heroes like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia back on the big screen after more than 30 years, but the new film is not expected to be a continuation of their story, per se. The focus is going to be on newcomers like Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley); still, The Force Awakens (being Episode VII) nevertheless marks the next step of the Skywalker saga.
Speaking with Costco Connection (hat tip THR), Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy addressed the primary difference between the sequel trilogy installments and the Anthology films, essentially confirming what we already knew:
"The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga. The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story. The Anthology films offer opportunities to explore fresh characters, new storylines and a variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe."
While Kennedy doesn't say anything particularly eye-catching here, one noteworthy part of her quote is the use of the word "generational." The two Star Wars trilogies to date have followed two different generations in the Skywalker family, so the phrasing here would suggest that The Force Awakens (and its followups) will continue that tradition and feature the offspring of at least one of the veterans in a lead role. Many have speculated that Rey and new villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) could fit that bill, but Lucasfilm has kept character details very close to the chest during the pre-release phase.
Even though we sit just over two months away from the film's theatrical premiere, the veil of secrecy surrounding The Force Awakens has never truly been lifted. That extends to some of the characters' real names, as Abrams revealed a couple months back that the surnames for Finn and Rey are being withheld until the movie comes out. With that in mind, viewers are sure to take great interest in a new rumor about Finn, which deals with his backstory.
Cinelinx has sources claiming that Finn is the character's "only" name. It appears to be derived from his stormtrooper call signal, which is FN-2187. Apparently, he does not remember much from his childhood (including his birth name) and just goes by his number. So it would appear that Finn uncovering his past could potentially be a key plot point for The Force Awakens, which would explain why Abrams has kept it so closely guarded. If it's a mystery for the characters in the film, it's better if the audience is kept in the dark, too.
Another interesting note in the Cinelinx is that Finn and his fellow First Order stormtroopers regularly train with lightsabers and shields (harkening back to the original Ralph McQuarrie designs for the soldiers). Ever since Finn was revealed to be using Luke's original lightsaber in various marketing materials, many have been wondering how a former stormtrooper could be able to adequately wield the Jedi weapon in a fight. If this is accurate, not only would it clarify this aspect of the film, it also paints an intriguing set of antagonists the Resistance is up against. Why are infantry soldiers practicing lightsaber techniques, and do they ever use the laser swords in battle? Do the Resistance have a force with similar training so they're prepared?
Those eager for answers are hopeful that the upcoming third Force Awakens trailer (due this fall) will provide some details. However, it would be unwise to think the new preview will spill the beans in regards to the narrative. Lucasfilm has been so committed to revealing the bear minimum, that it wouldn't be surprising if that third trailer was just another teaser to excite the fan base.
Star Wars: Episode VII – 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.