J.J. Abrams is hard at work on his latest film, a little indie project called Star Wars: Episode VII, and fans of the galaxy far, far away haven't had many official details to chew on to this point. Despite Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy stating that the production wouldn't be clouded in secrecy, Abrams has done a solid job of keeping his infamous mystery box locked. A few leaked set images have shown non-spoilery specifics such as the models being used for the spaceships, but most of the meaty stuff is just rumor for now.
Today's update on the Return of the Jedi followup won't satisfy those looking for thorough information on the story beats the filmmakers are looking to cover, but like most of the unofficial reveals so far, it will provide moviegoers with some more food for thought as they imagine the twists and turns Abrams will take us on come December 2015.
Indie Revolver has shared two new pieces of concept art, which not only seemingly confirm that the stormtroopers will be getting a makeover in Episode VII, but tease yet another grand lightsaber duel to add to the saga's history of memorable conflicts.
First up is the stormtrooper redesign. Earlier rumors have speculated that the classic infantry unit have a new look this time around, with Abrams allegedly embracing the original artwork from Ralph McQuarrie to bring the villains to life. The linked image certainly lends credence to that belief, and it is quite the departure from what we saw in the original trilogy.
The chrome color scheme gives the uniform a darker, more imposing look and the new streamlined helmet looks like a menacing face that would frighten even the most stalwart Rebel warrior (the removal of the tube pieces on the side help in that regard). There's no telling on if the eye piece will help the soldiers improve their aim with firearms, but we'd think the Empire would make that a priority - especially if it really is on the rise again.
Since so little is known about the plot for Episode VII, one of the main discussion points has been what locales we'll be seeing in our return journey to the universe. Abrams himself appeared to confirm the presence of Tatooine, but it's all open for debate right now. Earlier this week, reports indicated that an ice planet (probably not Hoth, though) would be appearing, and thanks to some new concept art, it looks as if a forest world will be in the film as well.
Once again, Indie Revolver supplied the goods, which is a beautiful image of the Millennium Falcon hovering over a lightsaber duel. Given that concept work for Han Solo showed Harrison Ford wearing a getup similar to the one he sported on Endor, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the lush landscape of the woods will play a role in the narrative, whether it's the home planet of the Ewoks or not.
However, the biggest takeaway from that image for fans is the battle that is being depicted (which also includes someone taking aim with a blaster). With the vantage point so far away, it's impossible to tell who's meant to be engaged in the conflict, but we can make out the colors of the lightsabers being used. Our best educated guess would have the hero using the green sword (maybe it's Luke?), which means that the enemy is debuting the yellow blade.
To this point, the Star Wars films have mainly showcased three principle colors for Force users - blue and green for the Jedi and red for the Sith. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) was the outlier, as the actor's personal choice of purple gave the character a unique trademark that made him stand out. So it would appear that this newcomer found some new crystals during the construction of their weapon.
It may be a slight shock for fans to see an evildoer (?) wielding a lightsaber that is not the iconic red, but yellow has long been a color in the Star Wars universe - just not in the films. Yellow blades showed up in various video games and the original Luke Skywalker action figure from Kenner came with a lightsaber in this color. It may be new for the films (George Lucas originally intended for yellow blades to be used in Attack of the Clones), but Abrams isn't breaking tradition if in fact this new version makes the final cut.
As for who that mysterious figure may be, that's anyone's guess at this point. The Inquisitors are thought to be the adversaries for Episode VII, with rumors indicating that Lupita Nyong'o or Adam Driver could be part of that outfit. Outside of the returning OT actors, we don't know who anyone's playing, so that's a plausible outcome until we know more. No matter who it is, that scene should be a real treat to see on screen.
Star Wars: Episode VII will be in theaters December 18, 2015.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.
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