Everything We’ve Learned Since the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Trailer

By  · Published on December 1st, 2014

LucasFilm/Disney

It’s been three days since J.J. Abrams and the forces behind Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens delivered unto us 88-seconds of a teaser trailer to whet our appetites for the December 2015 release. It will be a year before hardcores will be standing in line on opening night and other movie lovers will follow in succession. The trailer itself was 88-seconds of new and nostalgic alike, featuring (fittingly) seven quick scenes to introduces to a few new faces – Attack the Block’s John Boyega as a marooned Stormtrooper, Daisy Ridley as a scavenger, a soccer ball-styled droid who sounds like a familiar robotic friend, a still secretive yet menacing hooded figure – and of course, one very old friend in the Millennium Falcon. Beyond these seven little peeks, we’ve still seen almost nothing from Episode VII. But in the days since people began watching the trailer over and over again, we’ve learned quite a bit.

Here’s what we know so far.

1. Stormtroopers of color are in, racist fans can take a hike

The trailer’s opening shot shows talented young John Boyega, who broke out in Attack the Block in 2011, as a helmetless Stormtrooper who appears to be marooned on a planet with a lot of sand. Since the trailer’s release, a small segment of fans have complained about the existence of a black Stormtrooper. Seeing as these folks of stone-aged opinions have about as much creative control as they do sense, it’s usually not worth even talking about their gripes. However, John Boyega’s response was perfect. In a note he left on Instagram, he urged any racist Star Wars fans to “get used to it.”

2. That grizzled narrator voice is that of…

Andy Serkis! Yes, Caesar himself is the one narrating the awakening of forces light and dark, according to our friend Drew McWeeny at Hitfix. As McWeeny explains, nothing else is known about the role Serkis is playing in the film, but that’s certainly his voice.

3. A new Lightsaber says something interesting about the new bad guy

Say what you will about the utility of a Lightsaber with extremely dangerous hilt guards – meme it up all you want – but the design of that new red Lightsaber appears to be different by design. It is likely that we’re dealing with something very old (ie. an old Sith reawakened, using an early model Lightsaber) or something very handmade (a young Sith learning to make his own tools of destruction). Either way, it looks gnarly and interesting and dangerous for everyone involved. It’s not clean and polished and perfect, which were the root of many issue George Lucas had with his prequels and special editions. Speaking of which…

4. George Lucas’ version of this trailer would be terrible…

Not that it needs to be said. It doesn’t. But we’ll say it anyway as a form of nerd therapy: the greatest strength of this trailer is that it’s the opposite of what we might get had George Lucas continued to make new Star Wars movies. It’s dirty and lived in and resistant to the urge to overproduce everything with the fancy new tools of digital effects. J.J. Abrams loves to use CGI to enhance the experience, but it’s clear even from 88-seconds of footage that he is tuned in to what made those original episodes great. For the purposes of comparison, the Internet has provided us with a look at what ole George’s trailer might look like:

We do not miss trade negotiations.

5. The soccer ball droid is a star

Everyone is in love with this little soccer ball-styled droid. He sounds a little like R2-D2, he’s only in the trailer for a brief moment but he appears to be panicked, and he’s adorable. He’s become a wonderful new meme (see below) all by himself. The automotive nerds at Jalopnik have even performed an in-depth mechanical analysis of this little guy to explore the energy linkage that likely keeps him together (think EVE from Wall-E) and the mechanical lineage of other Astromech droids, including R2. No new droid in history has every received this much attention with such little time on spent on screen. We’re into it. We think he’s awesome. Even noted grump Devin Faraci loves him. However, he does have some haters. And with that comes the Internet’s most cherished pastime, a meme:

6. Ralph McQuarrie’s art is all up in this movie

Peter at /Film has covered this trailer over the weekend with a fervor that is borderline insane, yet oddly sweet in its affection. One of the most interesting things he’s uncovered is how much of the look of The Force Awakens seems to be derived from the unused concept art of Ralph McQuarrie. For the uninitiated, McQuarrie is widely credited with creating the look of Star Wars, however not all of his designs were put to use by George Lucas and his original teams. It appears as if Abrams and Co. went back to McQuarrie’s original designs for everything from droids to locales to Daisy Ridley’s sweet Stormtrooper-esque goggles. It also appears as if the concept art released leaked in mid-October, featuring a masked cyborg-ish villain, a young lady with a lightsaber and some chrome Stormtroopers, may not have been far off of what we’re ultimately going to get from The Force Awakens.

7. This is Oscar Isaac and he appears to have been in a fight

Isaac is now confirmed as playing a Rebel pilot, per the insignia and the sweet new X-Wing in which he’s riding. It’s also clear from the bruises on his face that he’s been in some kind of altercation. Sounds like rebel scum to me. Some have even gone as far as to link the markings on the right cheek of his helmet to that of Jek Tono Porkins and his squad (my roommate, number one Jek Porkins fan, is going to lose his mind over this). It could also be a scratch. Either way, it’s fun to imagine that this is the 30-years later remnants of those heroic pilots.

8. Star Wars is in very capable hands

Even with only 88-seconds of footage, director J.J. Abrams has established his take on this galaxy far far away. It’s a dirty, lived-in world in which we’ll meet plenty of new characters and a bunch of old favorites. And just as the Millennium Falcon has a new rectangular satellite, there will be some upgrades. But these upgrades will not be shiny, surface-level tricks meant to distract us from an otherwise bland story. There’s intrigue here, a rebirth of the war that ignited fan passions in the late 70s. The magic is in the details and so far as we can tell, the details are right.

Now that we’ve watched this one for the 100th time, we’re ready for the next trailer.

Okay, maybe once more…

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)