Like most Americans, you probably watched last night's installment of Monday Night Football solely to see the premiere of the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Because come on: You certainly weren't watching to see which mediocre NFC East squad will have the honor of letting Green Bay stomp a mudhole in their guts in the playoffs.
So here it is:
That, combined with the final version of the poster (at the top of the page), will pretty be much our last look until the finished product hits theaters December 17. Naturally, you have questions (What of the Trade Federation? Are some idiots really upset a black guy is one of the leads?), and as an accredited expert* in all things Star Wars, I'm here to help.
[*As long as we're talking about the movies, and books released pre-1999 (but not the Jedi Prince or Young Jedi Knights series), or the Clone Wars TV show, which I haven't finished. I'm also good with the Dark Forces games and the first Knights of the Old Republic. Oh, and not the prequels, which like you I'm trying to forget through self-trepanation.]
We open with Rey (Daisy Ridley) exploring the fallen Star Destroyer (you can see TIE remnants in one scene) we saw in the first trailer on her home planet, the Outer Rim world Jakku. Jakku is what you'd get if every town on your planet was Mos Eisley.
After taking her droid BB-8 for a stroll, we see Rey pining for space fjords.
Desert planet? Epic destiny? That sounds suspiciously like another sci-fi hero.
Going against speculation following the first teaser that Finn (John Boyega) was hiding out in stormtrooper armor, it appears he actually is one (the cloners were eradicated by the Empire before the events of Star Wars, in case you want to stick a fork in that argument). According to voice over, he was raised to do one thing. And apparently that one thing is to crash TIE fighters.
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) figures prominently in the trailer, promising to finish Darth Vader's "ultimate mission," which one assumes is to get Sebastian Shaw reinstated as his Force ghost in Return of the Jedi.
In case you don't know the backstory, Kylo — like his buddies here — is a Battle for Endor re-enactment enthusiast who lets his hobby get out of hand.
We get some more shots of X-wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) as well. The new ones include apparent torture at the hands of Kylo Ren, and an awkward arm bump with Finn. Does Poe know he was a stormtrooper? Does Finn have strong feelings for Poe? With Isaac starring in The Force Awakens and the upcoming X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, must we despair of ever seeing that Inside Llewyn Davis sequel?
Rey and Finn question our old friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford) about the past: "There are stories about what happened." Han confirms the legends, implying younger generations know nothing of recent history. This is offensively off base, as any Millennial questioned about Iran-Contra could tell you.
Man, that redux of "Han and the Princess" from The Empire Strikes Back? All the "feels," as the Millennials I so recently mocked might say.
I've also seen some complaints that this version of Han is at odds with the one who once opined, "Hokey weapons and ancient religions are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." Because clearly there's no way the guy who said, "May the Force be with you" to Luke (in that same movie, by the way) or watched Darth Vader use his hokey religion to absorb multiple shots from Han's good blaster could possibly have changed his mind.
Next up, the same shot of a robot hand touching R2-D2 we've seen before. What's the deal with Luke?
I have a theory (which is mine) that I'll get into at the end.
On a side note, I think J.J. Abrams is gaslighting us and Finn is the mystery Skywalker kid. Leia and Lando Calrissian had an affair at some point. Han killed Lando in a rage before storming off, and Leia shipped Finn off in secret to be trained as a stormtrooper. Because if Skywalkers are good at anything, it's abandoning their children.
No? All right, that's probably a long shot. Of more interest, I think, is which character has long-term Dark Side potential. In the trailer and poster, Finn's lightsaber is blue, while Kylo Ren's is red, and as we all know, blue = good, red = bad (except when it doesn't). Of more significance, I think, is Rey's positioning with respect to Kylo in the poster up top. Their posture and the identical angle of their weapons are such that I'd think Abrams was lying about not mining the Extended Universe and Rey and Kylo are sister and brother, though maybe not Han and Leia's kids as in the books.
Not that I have any proof KYLO Ren is the offspring of Leia SKYwalker and Han SoLO, or anything. And it isn't as if Abrams and company have ever misled the audience about the characters in one of their movies before.
Anyway, Rey is upset/fearful in one shot, then angry in the next. And as we all know, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to breaking into FAO Schwarz and setting fire to all the Jar Jar Binks merchandise.
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The shots also give some sinister oomph to Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) telling her to "let the Force in." In short, I think Rey goes full DS.
Finally, I hope that "one thing" Finn was trained to do was duel with a lightsaber, because he doesn't look too confident in this final shot.
Luke has to show up to save Finn's bacon, right? I don't know if Abrams plans on killing all the old characters, but keeping Hamill off the poster and (maybe) only showing his hand in the trailers certainly seems to spell doom for the dude.
I just hope when Luke's Force ghost shows up, it's Corvette Summer-era Hamill. It's only fair.