Holy Chewbacca, how awesome was that trailer?! J.J. Abrams is certainly known for making an entrance but I didn’t expect to be so blown away by the scintillating imagery of each individual frame. In fact, only the last shot is as close to conventional as the teaser gets…though in that particular instance I think all can be forgiven. It’s now time to do a quick play-by-play of each clip and try to derive some form of narrative meaning. There’s no harm in speculating, is there? Nah! Time to lightsaber open this deeply guarded fortress — or at least that what it feels like with these cryptic voiceovers and snippets of intense action!
First, the trailer:
00:00-00:33 – We are graced with a stunning wide shot of a speeder riding past a crashed star destroyer in the middle of a vast desert. According to reports from the Star Wars Celebration panel, this desert locale is not in fact Tatooine; rather, it’s another planet of similar climate called Jakku. I’m all for leaving Tatooine and its twin suns behind in the rearview mirror. That being said, I do hope Jakku distinguishes itself from the most visited location in a galaxy far, far away. As for what’s in the frame, I have to imagine the rider of the speeder is our heroine Rey, who is likely investigating the crash site. Or perhaps the star destroyer has always been there and she or he is making a routine drive-by. We know stormtroopers still exist, but it’s entirely possible the Empire is no longer around and whatever remains of it is being put back together on some other remote planet. We shall see I suppose.
00:34-1:05 – Okay, so I’m going to condense the next set of clips together since they are all strung along by a pretty heavy voiceover by Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. Luke is clearly talking to someone, reminiscing about the past and the legacy of the Force his family carried for at least two generations. He ends by reminding the person he is conversing with that they also have that same special power. The implication is that the individual being addressed is tied to the Skywalker bloodline. Is Luke speaking to his daughter, son, niece or nephew? The next shot shows what appears to be the Jedi Master (the cloaked figure’s golden right hand sort of gives this away) relaying something to R2-D2, perhaps the message heard in the voiceover? It was also chilling to see the half-demolished helmet of Darth Vader, a souvenir Luke apparently kept following the Dark Lord’s private funeral pyre on Endor. Some fans seem to think this a sign that Vader could be alive, and resurrecting fan favorite characters is a very Marvel thing to do. However, I just don’t believe this series could ever move forward and be taken seriously if such a plot twist were to occur. Kathleen Kennedy and Abrams have made it quite clear this next chapter in Star Wars lore is all about paving the way for the new characters. Bringing back Vader into the fold would just distract from that crucial goal. Finally, we witness Leia holding a lightsaber, an image fans of the Expanded Universe have dreamt of seeing for decades now considering the Princess becomes much more than just a good shot and an even better caster of insults.
1:06-1:25 – The next several seconds feature a montage of our new heroes, as well as the newly minted stormtrooper army they’ll be facing, some of whom are donned with cloaks. There is an explosive battle on Jakku involving Rey, ex-stromtrooper Finn, and BB-8. My thinking is that Rey either rescued or encountered Finn near the crashed star destroyer, and subsequently find themselves on the hunt from what appears to be Imperials, though apparently they’re known as “The First Order” in these sequels. We also see another stupendous clip of dashing X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron delivering an ecstatic cheer as he blasts some TIE fighters (presumably) during a lakeside skirmish. Rumor has it that the former Rebel Alliance is now referred to as The Resistance, or something along those lines. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that since it’s very uninspired and calls to mind something like Battlestar Galactica or Terminator. The Rebel Alliance has a much chummier ring to it, no? Then there is the black armored stormtrooper with a cloak. Are we witnessing our first Sith/stormtrooper hybrid or is this just an elite class of stormtrooper? December will reveal all, I suppose, although if I had to guess I’d say the “First Order’s” birth or reemergence has something to do with the aid of the Sith. They probably used their unlimited resources (Sith always have deep pockets, don’t they?) to rebuild both an army and a new dominion from the ground up to destroy whatever brief peace there was in the galaxy between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. However, I am sure things are a lot less black and white than that.
1:26-1:59 – So obviously the main draw from this final segment of the trailer is the big reveal of Han Solo and Chewbacca standing side-by-side as they reflect on their return to the action at hand. I’m not certain if Han’s line, “Chewie…we’re home” is literal in the sense that he’s referring to the Millennium Falcon, or maybe Han is just uttering some meta dialogue for fan appeasement sake. Since Chewbacca and Han clearly don’t share a home planet (Han is from Corellia and Chewbacca is from Kashyyyk for those of us who aren’t nerds), I have to assume that line is rather loaded, but heck of course we’ll take it. Reunited and it does feel so good! Last thing of note is the Millennium Falcon dodging TIE fighter blasts from inside a pretty huge and clearly abandoned, broken-down vessel. Might it be our star destroyer from the first shot? If so, it’s time to put this story together…
My theory: Luke leaves a transmission inside R2-D2, who then either goes directly or somehow contacts Han and Chewie asking them for a favor. R2-D2 likely accompanies them if whatever message Luke is trying to send resides inside our favorite astromech. Perhaps Han and Chewie are partying on a planet somewhere near Jakku and don’t mind being pulled out of retirement for one last adventure. I’m guessing Rey discovers this message, either from R2 or by other means, teams up with Finn, and the pair both hightail away from the Empire onboard the Millennium Falcon. Since every film begins with a Force-sensitive protagonist escaping from a unfulfilling life on a desert planet, one has to assume Rey will go through this déjà vu character arc. If so, then her blood ties to the Skywalker/Solo clan are pretty much guaranteed, especially if Luke’s presumed message was meant for her ears only. There’s likely much more to The Force Awakens than that, but I believe these past two teasers have given us quite some insight into how this whole new chapter kicks off.
I encourage everyone to sound off on their own theories below!