It’s all about the lightsaber.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens now less than three months away, we’re due for a trailer. A theatrical trailer, of the big 2-3 minute variety.
Sure, we’ve been spoiled so far. Two teaser trailers, a total of nearly two and a half minutes of footage. New characters (and a few old ones), new locations, plenty of appetizing action.
Whatever, we want more.
So for those of you who can’t wait (like us), here are six things to expect from the first Star Wars theatrical trailer, and what they might mean.
1. Just a glimpse of a lightsaber fight
Over the last month or so, we’ve seen a couple new things. One, there was this picture:
That’s John Boyega as Finn, one of the film’s main protagonists.
So sure, now that we’ve seen two lightsaber-weilding figures (and one red saber, one blue one to boot) in a snowy locale, it’s no stretch to suppose a proper trailer might give us a peek at their inevitable duel.
But what about the nature of that duel?
That brings us to the second revelation, from director J.J. Abrams about this character:
Let’s start with Abrams’ most telling words:
Kylo Ren is not a Sith. He works under Supreme Leader Snoke, who is a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force.
In the Star Wars universe, the dark side and light side of the force are each generally associated with a particular group: the Sith and the Jedi, respectively. But each group is like an ancient religious school. The Force isn’t something either one owns or has total mastery of. It’s mystical. The Force is something that “is,” and they teach ways to access and harness it.
(This is one of the things the prequels really messed up, by the way. Remember all the hullaballoo about “midichlorians”? Here’s betting that word is never uttered in the new films.)
Here’s Abrams again:
The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character.
He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren.
What all this tells us is that Kylo Ren is probably still a relative beginner in the ways of the Force. He might be extremely powerful, but it’s raw power. He hasn’t been “educated” in either of the classical schools. He might even have been self-taught before joining up with mystics in the Knights of Ren.
Now throw Finn back into the mix, who we already know is a former stormtrooper who defected, and who we can see from the teaser trailers spends an awful lot of time in this movie running, not training as a Jedi. That’s two undertrained combatants.
This duel is going to be high energy without a lot of finesse, and it’s going to have some collateral damage.
2. More Missions with Poe Dameron
So first off, expect to see a little more of that mission, maybe a strafing run (since they’re on a planet and probably attacking a ground target). But more than that, expect to see more of Poe. Along with Finn and Rey (Daisy Ridley), he’s among the triumvirate of main characters for the movie. It seems pretty certain that BB-8 (the rolling orange droid) actually belongs to Poe, so he may be closer to the action Finn and Rey are caught up in than the first couple teasers have suggested. They’re running around on the planet Jakku, and even though we haven’t seen him there yet, Finn’s probably with them.
Unless that happens while Poe is captured. Yeah, at some point the First Order captures Poe, and it looks like they beat him pretty good. You can see just a glimpse of it at the 54 second mark of the behind the scenes footage released after Comic-Con earlier this year.
Finally, this is Star Wars. That means we need some wars. Among the stars. It’s probably more a matter of “how much” than “if,” but “if” the new trailer shows any space combat at all, odds say that Poe is involved. He’s the leader of a squadron of X-Wings; learning again from the wrongs of the prequels, we can’t have a meaningful space battle if we don’t know and care about at least one or two of the pilots. Poe is going to be there. (And probably Han and Chewie, too.)
3. Our first look at Luke
Luke Skywalker is in The Force Awakens (and probably in Episode VIII as well), but he’s been conspicuously absent in the teasers. Sure, that might be his robot hand on R2-D2 in the second trailer, but with the hood down it feels a little too much like a misdirect. Also, the hood doesn’t match the leaked photos of Luke.
Of course, this would mesh with some theories that have been floating around that Luke has disappeared. But for the moment, we’re not biting. Although the old Expanded Universe is no more (and rebranded “Star Wars Legends”), it’s hard to imagine the folks driving the train will completely ignore some of the favorite parts of the old EU.
Such as Luke’s new Jedi Academy. Now that we’ve seen photographic proof of Finn’s Jedi journey, the trailers are free to show him with Luke…if that is part of the storyline. At any rate, Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan rewrote the original Episode VII script by Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt in part (purportedly) to add in more Han, Luke, and Leia. And come on. We’ve seen Han (and Chewie). Leia’s shown up in costume in the behind-the-scenes footage from Comic-Con. It’s high time the only known Jedi Master in the universe made his grand entry.
4. We will see Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, and General Hux (even together!) but NOT Supreme Leader Snoke
There are four key villainous figures to keep tabs on in The Force Awakens. Two we’ve already seen: the masked man Kylo Ren, and the stormtrooper in chrome armor, Captain Phasma (played by Gwendoline Christie). But the two even higher ranking members of the First Order (the remnant of the Empire active in The Force Awakens) have yet to appear in a trailer.
We have seen a still shot, however, of Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux:
He’s looking an awful lot like some of the Imperial Admirals from the original trilogy. He better hope that Kylo Ren is more forgiving than Darth Vader…
But if Ren is still the neophyte we guess he is, he won’t hold rank over Hux. Remember, at the beginning of the original Star Wars, even Darth Vader was jockeying for position with the higher-ups of the Empire.
There have actually been quite a few internet rumors that corroborate our theory, some even suggesting that Hux and Kylo Ren are both trying to get to Darth Vader’s/Luke’s old lightsaber first (more on that particular artifact in a minute). It’s no big leap, then, to guess that if Kylo Ren isn’t General Hux’s right hand man, Captain Phasma probably is. Well, his right hand woman. Not that being a woman will make her one iota less badass, especially to hear actress Gwendoline Christie talk about her. There’s even been this leaked photo to suggest we’re going to see them together:
All that together means that if anyone has to step in and get Hux (or Captain Phasma) under control, it’s sure not going to be the upstart Kylo Ren. It’s going to have to be the First Order’s Supreme Leader (and Kylo Ren’s mentor) Snoke. And we put it at a 1% chance you’ll get so much as a glimpse of him until at least a second trailer, if not until you’re in the theater watching the actual movie.
Think about the way the Emperor was deployed in the original trilogy. He was mentioned but never seen in Star Wars. He was barely glimpsed in The Empire Strikes Back (at least until some abominable edits for the DVDs and Blu-Rays forced more of him in). Even his first appearance in Return of the Jedi is shrouded in hood and shadow.
We’re not going to go so far as to say this new trilogy is going to do the same thing with Snoke; in fact, we expect him to be pretty active in the background. As much as the Nazi metaphor has been pushed (Abrams on the inspiration for the First Order: “What would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again?”) the moniker “Supreme Leader” definitely sounds like an Iranian allusion. Combine that with Kylo Ren’s origins, and whereas the Empire was a military dictatorship, the First Order looks more like a radical theocracy.
Still, especially because the character is a CGI creation atop an Andy Serkis motion capture performance, we don’t expect a mere trailer to give up the goods on what’s one of the most hotly anticipated character reveals the film has left.
5. We’ll get our first look at Maz Kanata
— Bruce Gallagan (@BruceGallagan) May 4, 2015
If Supreme Leader Snoke is the biggest character reveal left in The Force Awakens, Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata has to be the second. Kanata is another CGI-motion capture character, and has been described as the owner of a pirate’s haven. The most obvious analogue is Jabba the Hutt’s palace, although we’re betting Maz’s Castle (really, that’s what it’s being called) is a more welcoming place, if every bit as deadly.
Turning again to the defunct Expanded Universe for clues, we actually see lots of pirate and smuggler types throughout the Star Wars Universe. Han Solo is one (and don’t be surprised if the “Chewie. We’re home,” line is a reference to Kanata’s palace, although there are several other possible meanings). Lando Calrissian was another, before he turned respectable. There’s a whole series of stories beyond the original films about the gangsters with hearts of gold who filled the power vacuum following Jabba the Hutt’s death. Kanata could easily fit that mold.
Because we have no idea what this character looks like yet, popping her in the trailer could generate a ton of buzz. Not that The Force Awakens will need it, because, well, it’s Star Wars. But adding a long look at a character like this would give the internet plenty to talk about for a while (especially if it’s not immediately clear it’s Maz), so we’re betting on her inclusion as the newest, most as-yet-unseen thing the trailer throws our way.
6. More of Luke’s lightsaber
Snute and Kanata may be the biggest character reveals left, but the biggest burning question from the teaser trailers has to be how someone recovered Luke’s lightsaber that he lost when fighting Darth Vader the first time.
That happened on an orbital platform over a gaseous planet. Basically, somebody had to so ridiculously in the right place at the right time to catch the lightsaber that it shouldn’t have ever happened.
I sense the foooooorrrce!
Yep, there’s probably something a tad providential going on here, which means Luke’s lightsaber – which he inherited from his child-massacring father – has a role to play beyond the character who wields it. And we mean that even beyond the hunt for the blue lightsaber that’s already been more or less confirmed as a major plot point for the movie. Again, more on this in just a second.
Although the Force generally shows up as a neutral, um, force to be manipulated, there is some precedent here for the Force having a “will” and/or giving visions of the future. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda teaches Luke that it’s possible to see the future while meditating. This shows up in the prequels as well, with Anakin predicting Padme’s death, and the prophecy that Anakin is supposed to fulfill. So it’s not out of the question that someone on Bespin station caught Luke’s lightsaber.
From what Abrams and others have said in interviews, we know that Kylo Ren pursues an almost cultish obsession with Darth Vader. In the second trailer, we see the mangled remains of Vader’s mask. That’s probably in Ren’s possession. And if he’s preoccupied with tracking down everything that once belonged to Anakin Skywalker, the appearance of his lightsaber would be of preeminent importance to him. This is the only one left; Vader’s red saber was (presumably) incinerated by the Death Star’s core reactor when Luke cut off his hand in Return of the Jedi.
The funny thing about all of this is that artifacts have never been all that much of a thing in Star Wars. In a lot of fantasy stories you’ll see characters seeking out objects that have been imbued with some particular magical power, but in Star Wars, the Force has generally been more fluid. The cave that Luke enters in The Empire Strikes Back is about the closest thing you get to a place or an object that possessed of some light side or dark side spirit/energy/whatever. Still, considering a background plot point from Revenge of the Sith was Qui-Gon figuring out how to become a Force ghost, maybe it’s time for Star Wars to move from mere mysticism to true magic.
Anyways, the second teaser made a pretty big deal out of the lightsaber, too, being sure to hold it in focus long enough so as to be unmistakable. This artifact seems like a focus of the film, and you can be certain it’s going to show up in the next trailer.
So there’s our list. Do you disagree with one of our predictions? Drop us a comment and point us in the right direction!