The Force Awakens Trailer Analysis

So with Star Wars Celebration Anaheim well underway and May the 4th soon to be with us, I thought it would be a good time to take a minute and go over the Force Awakens footage that has been released so far.

Warning: the following post contains known facts, vicious rumors (some of which are baseless and others which are suspiciously well-sourced) and wild, untamed speculation. The potential for movie spoilers is significant. You have been warned. 

Let’s start with the first trailer. This was released way back in November, so it’s already been analyzed to death, but considering how much we’ve learned since then, a quick refresher won’t hurt.

mpaa
Also some Bothans probably died

Before anything else, we have the voice over. It’s now been confirmed that this is Andy Serkis speaking, and he sounds like whatever role he’s in will be playing at least slightly against type. The line “There has been an awakening, have you felt it?” is fairly meaningless without further context, but it does seem to tie in with the film’s title. The Force is awakening, we’ve been told. Awakening from what exactly? Was it asleep before?

finn

Next we have John Boyega in a stormtrooper uniform. This is significant for two reasons: one, seeing a person of color playing a stormtrooper is noteworthy because of their being historically underrepresented in the Star Wars universe, and also for disproving the persistent fan theory that all stormtroopers are clones of the original trooper design based on Jango Fett. All of this is, of course, assuming that Boyega’s character (now confirmed to be named Finn) is a genuine imperial trooper and not just an outsider who is wearing trooper armor as a disguise. This has yet to be officially officially confirmed, but Boyega did appear to admit it during the Celebration Anaheim TFA panel.

The backdrop behind him is an endless ocean of desert, which was originally assumed (pretty reasonably) to be Tattooine, but has since been revealed as being a new desert planet, “Jakku”

(assuming that this isn’t just JJ Abrams fucking with us, which is entirely possible)

The audio includes a brief clip that is recognizable as the same sound that was made by the imperial probe droid that discovered the rebel base on Hoth. Assuming that this audio is present in the actual movie and not just added for the trailer, it raises some questions. No droids are visible in the frame, but is there one just off-screen? If so, why? It’s also possible that this noise isn’t meant to indicate a droid at all, but rather its broader purpose as “an Imperial code”

bb8

The balldroid! Besides the official designation of “BB8” not much is known about this little guy, but it has now been demonstrated that it is (against all odds) a practical effect.

I have no idea how that thing works, beyond just “magnets” but if they can scale it down to a consumer-priced toy I will buy three of them.

troopers

Here’s our first look at the updated streamlined/minimalist trooper uniforms. The 501s legion already has a bunch of these guys now, and I suspect that there will be considerably more by December.

rey

Daisy Ridley, whose character is now officially named “Rey” and who is riding a speeder shaped like a sideways ice cream bar across what is presumably that same desert planet of Jakku.

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Oscar Isaac as “Poe Dameron” the pilot. I was initially annoyed that the aurebesh characters on his flightsuit are upside-down, but upon further consideration there’s actually a perfectly good in-universe explanation for this. The text is meant to be read by the pilot.

It says “PULL TO INFLATE”

t70s

A quick shot of some X-Wings flying across some kind of body of water. What planet is this? I don’t know. Presumably it’s not Jakku, unless Jakku is somehow a large enough planet to contain more than one type of biome (but that’s just crazy talk). There’s some talk that it might be Yavin IV, but that’s pure speculation at this point.

Notably, these X-Wings are modified slightly from the ones seen in episodes 4-6. The hemispherical engine design is actually closer to Ralph Mcquarrie’s original concept art for the X-Wing:

mcquarrie-xwing

Canonically, this marks them as Incom model T-70, as opposed to the previously seen model T-65.

crossguard

This is the now-infamous “crossguard” lightsaber, wielded by an unknown, black-clad figure, who has since been revealed to be named “Kylo Ren”. As far as the lightsaber itself goes, I’m with Stephen:

As for the rest of the shot, the return of the Andy Serkis voiceover referring to “The Dark Side” and the character’s fashion sense and choice of lightsaber color all strongly suggest that this is either a fallen Jedi or a full-on Sith Lord. In either case it raises the question of whether this is a character who embraced the dark side at some point after the events of Return of the Jedi, or if it was a character who was active but never seen during the events of the original trilogy.

There’s also the question of what planet this is. Wind and snow might suggest Hoth, but the vegetation says otherwise. I’m guessing this is another new planet, yet to be officially named.

falcon

And then there’s the Falcon. What can I say about this other than the fact that it made me cry when I saw it?

Well, I can say that it’s gotten the sensor dish replaced, sometime following The Incident.

I'm guessing Lando is going to pay for that
I’m assuming Lando is going to pay for that

Finally, there’s one last element to the trailer, that unfortunately I can’t screencap for you. After the video has faded out, there’s the very quiet sound of a lightsaber igniting.

If you listen very carefully, you can actually identify it as being specifically Luke’s original blue lightsaber, inherited from Anakin.

This brings us to the new trailer.

lucasfilm

No voice over to carry us in this time, just the iconic John Williams score. We open on a sweeping shot of a desert (which we now know is Jakku) littered with the wreckage of original-trilogy-era starfighters. There’s also a vehicle cruising along from left to right across the expansive desert. It’s small, but it looks like it could very easily be Rey’s “ice cream” speeder seen earlier.

jakku

It’s worth noting[citation needed] that the X-Wing seen here is the classic T-65 model, not the T-70 seen in the previous trailer. This suggests that the battle that ended with these fighter crashed here took place closer to episode VI than to episode VII.

Then the voiceover arrives. No mystery this time, it’s definitely Mark Hamill. There’s nothing new here, though. This is just repurposed dialog from Return of the Jedi:

There’s been some speculation online that the use of the present tense for “my father has it” might have some kind of deeper implications, but no. It seems obvious that they’ve just reused these lines without any concern for the updated time and place.

darthhead

Next we see the molten remains of Darth Vader’s helmet. It’s too dark to definitively see the location, so it’s not clear who possesses it 30 years after Vader’s death. It’s fairly unlikely that Luke would have kept it, so my guess is that it’s been salvaged from Endor by a dark side devotee for some unknown purpose.

r2-fire

R2 is back! This isn’t actually news, since R2 was the first character confirmed to be returning from the original trilogy, but it’s exciting nonetheless. He’s joined here by an unknown figure in a black cloak.

You can clearly see that the hooded figure’s right hand is robotic. I’ve heard some people asserting that this means the hooded figure is definitely Luke, due to his having an artificial right hand, but honestly that’s pretty specious reasoning.

Do you have any idea how many people get their right hand cut off in the Star Wars movies?

zam

anakin

dooku

grievous

windu

pondababa

wampa

luke

Eight. I counted.

Although admittedly five of those eight are characters who later died, and I’m willing to concede that it’s probably not a wampa in that robe. The obvious options would be Ponda Baba or Luke.

So fine. If it’s a pre-existing character then it’s probably Luke.

Let’s not discount the possibility that it’s a robotic hand attached to a fully robotic character, though. Maybe R2 is just attending some kind of droid campout event?

oldsaber

A lightsaber changes hands. And not just any lightsaber, although it could basically be any hands. That’s definitely Luke’s original lightsaber, formerly owned by Anakin Skywalker and presumed lost on Bespin. Given the circumstances, it’s unlikely that Luke would have been able to recover it, so it’s tempting to assume that it’s now in the possession of Imperial/Sith forces, much like Vader’s helmet.

In voiceover, Luke refers to “my sister” which would naturally suggest that the lightsaber might end up in Leia’s possession. The hands on the left look like they belong to a woman, but don’t particularly look like they belong to a 58-year-old woman. This might lend some weight to the rumor that Carrie Fisher’s daughter will make an appearance as a younger Princess Leia, possibly in a flashback.

The hand on the right are an even bigger mystery. An enhanced screencap of this scene reveal that the owner of the hand does not appear to be human:

righthands

In fact, this creature is actually somewhat reminiscent of some concept art that leaked back in October:

conceptalien

You may note that the concept art also features a blue lightsaber, lending further weight to this theory. Although this does not clarify the identity of anyone in the trailer scene, the presence of BB8 suggests that those pictured are more likely to be Rebels than Imperials.

more-xwings

Extremely similar to the X-Wing footage from the previous trailer, we have a squad of T-70s flying over water on what looks like a temperate green planet.

more-poe

Back in the cockpit with Poe Dameron, still flying his X-Wing, now with a bit more enthusiasm.

more-crossguard2

More crossguard lightsaber, now in action. The setting is unclear, but you can just make out a smattering of stormtroopers behind the black-clad figure, which at least offers some confirmation that the sith/dark-jedi are once again in collusion with the remaining imperial forces.

tie-attack

Here we have Finn and Rey, along with BB8, running from an explosion. To the left, you can just make out a TIE fighter in the distance, presumable making an attack run. It’s not clear if the fighter is aiming for Finn and Rey (or BB8) specifically, or just destroying something behind them, but it does appear to confirm that Finn is not an ordinary stormtrooper, and is not 100% on the side of the Empire. It’s also the first time that we see any of these three characters together.

force-push

Back to Kylo Ren, in what looks like a continuation of his previous scene. This is the first clear look at Ren’s face, and we can see that he’s wearing a mask that’s similar (but not quite identical) to the one worn by Darth Revan in the Old Republic series of video games. Assuming this resemblance is intentional, it could either be a simple homage or an actual attempt to connect the two characters. Although Revan himself has been dead for almost 3700 years, it’s not inconceivable that the mask could have been recovered, although such an overt reference to the Old Republic era seems fairly unlikely. Additionally, Revan’s mask was itself taken off of a dead Mandalorian. Could the implication here be that we’re going to see a Mandalorian Sith Lord??

No, probably not.

To the right, you can also see a structure in the background that resembles a GX-8 water vaporator. This ordinarily would suggest that the action is taking place on Tattooine, but logically a vaporator would be useful on any desert planet, including Jakku.

And although the effect of the gesture is not visible, he certainly lookslike he’s using the force in this shot. It could probably go without saying, but this does offer some form of confirmation that Kylo Ren is a genuine force-user and not just some schmuck who built himself a junkyard lightsaber.

firstorder

A large gathering of imperial forces, including troopers, officers, and pilots. Here we get a glimpse the emblem for the new incarnation of the Empire, which has been recreated in its entirety by blulizard:

firstorderemblem
I look forward to buying this as a T-shirt sometime around Christmas.

Apparently this new version of the Empire is referred to as the “First Order” in official materials. Is this the only surviving remnant of the first Galactic Empire, or has there been a power struggle following the death of Emperor Palpatine leaving several competing factions? So far we don’t know.

We do know that this base appears to be situated in a snowy climate, possibly putting it on the same planet as Kylo Ren’s appearance in the previous trailer.

Additionally, it’s too small to make out in the 1080p version of the trailer, but if you look carefully at the 3500×1466 still that Disney has released, you can make out what appears to be a chrome-colored figure with its left shoulder obscured by something black:

chromefigure

This is significant, because we’ll be seeing a similar figure in more detail later.

reyglancing

This is a fairly unremarkable shot of Rey’s face. There’s not a whole lot going on here, but it is a good example of one of my concerns about the visual direction of Episode VII. Specifically, Diasy Ridley’s face looks really unnaturally orange in this shot. So much so that it makes me worry about Star Wars falling victim to the obnoxious orange-and-teal color correction trend. Please, please, please do not make Star Wars look like a Transformers movie. I am begging you.

randomties

Two TIE fighters flying against a blue sky, with a plume of black smoke rising from the left. This could be a shot from that same atmospheric attack run that Finn and Rey are fleeing from earlier. Or it could be from literally almost anything else.

hangarbay
This is not helping with my orange-and-teal concerns

A quick shot of some TIE fighters in a hangar bay, during some kind of battle. Interestingly, the fight appears to show Imperial troops and and Imperial fighter exchanging fire. This implies that either there is more than one Imperial faction or someone has hijacked an Imperial fighter to attack or escape from an Imperial installation. My money is on the latter.

helmetoff

Finn removing his stormtrooper helmet, visibly distraught. The background is out of focus, but the coloring makes it look like he’s inside an Imperial base of some kind or another (which would make sense). The armor is visibly dirtied, but if you look closely, the scuff marks here do not match the shot with the desert background from the first trailer.  Specifically, there is a broad smudge on the uniform’s left shoulder here, whereas in the desert scene the left shoulder is relatively clean and there is a smaller mark on the right shoulder, absent here.

shoulders-annotated

This could just be a continuity error or it could be an indication that these scenes are set far enough apart that the armor would reasonably have been cleaned and refreshed in the interim.

newstardestroyer

Five spaceships that are not immediately recognizable (to me) flying upwards towards what appears to be a new model of Star Destroyer. To be honest, these designs look a little too reminiscent of the prequels for my taste, but maybe they’ll grow on me.

chrometrooper2

A full-body shot of a special stormtrooper uniform, being referred to by fans as a “chrometrooper” and rumored to be some form of elite Imperial special forces agent. This is likely to be the same person we saw on the podium at the stormtrooper assembly earlier.

In terms of setting, the background is very reminiscent of Imperial architecture, but it also appears to have an exposed rock face of some kind. Maybe the First Order is operating out of some kind of hidden volcano lair?

Rumor has it the person wearing that uniform is Gwendoline Christie, best known for her role as Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Game of Thrones. This would mark the first time we’ve ever seen a female Imperial outside of the Expanded Universe (now the “Legends” canon). It would also be awesome.

bb8-leaning2

BB8 leaning around a corner. The background here is definitely the interior of the Millenium Falcon (you can see the ladder to the gun turrets on the left). No big surprises.

takemyhand

Rey extends an arm to Finn, who is out of uniform and looking a little worse for wear. Finn hesitates and then takes it. Based on Finn’s clothes and the clutter in the background, this looks like it could be immediately before the earlier scene with the TIE fighter attack.

exhaustport

The Falcon, pursued by a TIE fighter, flies inside the wreckage of an extremely large ship. The orientation and scale of these exhaust ports make it likely that the ship is an Executor-class Star Dreadnought that somehow crashed upside-down, although this theory remains controversial.

We also see some interesting camerawork in this segment. The “faux handheld” technique for making spaceship battles seem more grounded and realistic, as pioneered in Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, is in full force here. This is a significant departure for the series, which has historically favored a relatively static camera for spaceship-heavy scenes.

Man, I hope you're right
Man, I hope you’re right

Last but obviously not least, we have an actual image of Han Solo and Chewbacca standing on the Millenium Falcon.

Everyone take a moment for how fucking awesome this is.

Ok, when you’re done, what does this actually mean? Han’s line certainly suggests that they haven’t been on the Falcon in a while, but we don’t know why. Did Han have his ship stolen from him? Or maybe just lose it in a sabacc game? Or did he lend it to someone who needed it more? The fact that Chewie has his bowcaster drawn also implies that whoever has been using it in the meantime may not be the most friendly and familiar.

As an aside, the first time I saw the trailer I wasn’t really able to see Han Solo here. It just looked like Harrison Ford standing on a set somewhere. But after a few more times, it all came together. The music, the sound, the look, the fact that the set was actually a set and not just a greenscreen. And then Han was Han again. And Star Wars was Star Wars again.

I’m really hoping that the whole movie works like that.

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