Star Wars is Disney's flagship property of 2015 and very understandably so. Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand is the company's biggest acquisition since Marvel and we're only a few months away from the next chapter in the saga hitting theaters - one that's almost 40 years in the making. Disney and Lucasfilm, alongside the cast (new and old) stole the show at this year's Star Wars Celebration, San Diego Comic-Con, and Disney D23 events, among others, to promote Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens - in addition to spinoffs, sequels, merchandise and even theme park expansions - while somehow keeping story details close the vest.
And now the new heroes and villains are stealing the cover(s) of Empire Magazine. Let's take a closer look at The Resistance and The First Order, the new embattled factions in the galaxy 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi.
Earlier this morning Empire shared one of their two variant covers for next Thursday's issue of the magazine. The exclusive, fold-out covers give readers a choice to make when picking up the issue: the light side or the dark. The first image features the new trio of villains: the crossguard lightsaber-wielding Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the young General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and the mighty chrome Stormtrooper Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).
Note the location set within the hangar bay of future version of an Imperial Star Destroyer, complete with updated Tie Fighters and Stormtroopers. Released later in the day via Empire's Twitter account is the second variant cover, featuring - as we suspected - the trio of new heroes. Sorry, no Luke Skywalker official reveal just yet:
From the left, we have Stormtrooper-turned-lightsaber-wielder Finn (John Boyega), the desert scavenger from Jakku, Rey (Daisy Ridley), and ace X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). New droid BB-8 and the iconic Millennium Falcon make an appearance as well. The imagery and details reveal nothing new but highlight the new characters we'll follow along throughout the next trilogy of Star Wars movies.
All we need now is a third variant cover (perhaps closer to the film's December release date?) featuring the original trio of heroes: Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Luke (Mark Hamill) alongside Chewbacca and returning droids C3PO and R2-D2. Stay tuned for more details as this Empire preview issue hits shelves next week.
Star Wars: Episode VII - 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 film on May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars standalone film in 2020.