Star Wars Episode 7: lightsabers at dawn in new teaser trailer
Countdown to film begins as Disney gives tantalising new glimpse of The Force Awakens's heroes and villains
The Star Wars publicity machine rumbled back into life yesterday as Disney released a new 15-second teaser trailer on social media, featuring glimpses of the hotly anticipated film's new heroes and villains.
Four months ahead of its release, the new characters from the forthcoming film are already becoming household names from their appearances in trailers and magazine articles alone.
New hero Finn, played by British actor John Boyega, appears yet again in the new teaser – a 15-second affair that was released yesterday on the official Star Wars Instagram account.
In the clip, Finn is seen brandishing a lightsaber for the first time – and it's blue. It's a hint, perhaps, that although he previously appeared wearing Storm Trooper armour, he's in fact one of the goodies of the piece.
In Star Wars mythology, lightsabers can be many different colours, but in the original trilogy of films, Jedis from the light side of the force were more commonly seen carrying blue or green lightsabers and villains carrying red.
New baddie Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, certainly appears happy to stick to that colour convention. In the new trailer, the hooded villain is seen once again igniting his red lightsaber with its distinctive cross guards.
Ren also appears in front of a rally of stormtroopers while the same sinister voice from the last teaser trailer says: "There's been an awakening. Have you felt it?"
The trailer ends with an orchestral fanfare from composer John Williams's new score.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in cinemas worldwide on 18 December.
Star Wars 7: what do we know about villain Kylo Ren?
Actor Adam Driver has remained tight-lipped about his role as villain Kylo Ren in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, but director JJ Abrams has offered some juicy details about the character, pushing fan theories into overdrive. Here's what we know so far:
Behind the mask
Following the release of the second trailer, fans immediately pointed out similarities between Kylo's mask and that of Darth Vader. Abrams has confirmed that was of course deliberate. "The movie explains the origins of the mask and where it's from, but the design was meant to be a nod to the Vader mask," Abrams told Entertainment Weekly. "[Ren] is well aware of what's come before, and that's very much a part of the story of the film."
What's in a name?
Kylo Ren is not the character's real name, Abrams revealed. Ren, it appears, is the surname given to members of the Knights of Ren, which keen observers will note is not too dissimilar from the idea of Sith Lords taking on Darth as a title. Ren's real name remains one of The Force Awakens' big mysteries. One observer on Reddit believes Ren will turn out to be the son of Hans and Leia Solo, while HitFix thinks that he could in fact be Revan from the Star Wars computer game series 'Knights of the Old Republic'.
Another Luke Skywalker?
The director also touched on Ren's origins, claiming they were not too dissimilar from Luke Skywalker's in A New Hope. In the 1977 film, Skywalker was an uninitiated farm boy who eventually became a Jedi Knight and battled the Empire. Abrams hinted at something similar for Ren, saying: "I think that what makes Ren so unique is that he isn't as fully formed as when we meet a character such as Darth Vader. And I think that there are two sides to the Force. Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here."
More than meets the eye
"Kylo Ren is not your prototypical moustache-twirling bad guy," according to Abrams. "He is a little bit more complex than that, and it was a great joy to work with Adam Driver on this role, because he threw himself into it in a deep and remarkable way." Fans will have to wait a little bit longer to see just how different a villain Ren is, but according to IGN's Chris Carle, perhaps they shouldn't be so shocked if they actually find him somewhat familiar. "What I find so utterly captivating about [Ren] is he's a huge fanboy," says Carle. "He's a guy who is really, really into Darth Vader and will stop at nothing to know every last detail, every shred of knowledge he can glean. He's me. And you, perhaps."
Familiar perhaps, but still unique
Although Star Wars fans may recognise something of themselves in Driver's character, they are still likely to encounter a villain unlike any who have preceded him, says Star Wars screen writer Lawrence Kasdan.
"I've written four Star Wars movies now, and there's never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays," Kasdan told EW.
"He's full of emotion. No matter how we express ourselves in the world, whether we hide it and act very calm or whether we're very out there and demonstrative, everybody's roiling with emotion. And you want your characters to be that way, too. Then they have to deal with their emotions as best they can, with what they are. I think you're going to see something that's brand new to the saga."
He is not as mysterious as Supreme Leader Snoke
Feverish speculation about Kylo Ren has overshadowed the other main villain of the forthcoming film, Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis.
No confirmed images of the mysterious motion-capture baddie have yet appeared, although his voice can be heard in the Star Wars trailer delivering the opening line: "There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark Side and the Light."
Some speculate that Snoke will be the arch manipulator who oversees Kylo Ren and his army of foot soldiers similar to how the Emperor directed Darth Vader in the original trilogy of films.
Star Wars 7: James Bond denies he will take on Han Solo
James Bond star Daniel Craig has scotched rumours he will be moonlighting as a Stormtrooper in Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens.
The rumour was kick-started by fellow actor Simon Pegg and gained credence thanks to production schedules at Pinewood, where filming for the new James Bond film, Spectre, was taking place just as the Star Wars 7 crew was finishing up on The Force Awakens.
Pegg, speaking at the premiere of his film Man Up in May, got the ball rolling when he told The Sun: "I wasn't a Stormtrooper. Daniel Craig, he was a Stormtrooper," before adding, "I shouldn't have said that".
The rumour quickly spread, but Craig, who will reprise his role as 007 for the fourth time in Spectre, angrily scotched the claims in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, dismissing the idea that he would take a cameo in another film.
"Why would I ever bother doing something like that?" he asked the magazine. "F****** hell! Pffft. Play an extra in another movie?"
Craig added: "Talk to Simon Pegg. He obviously knows way more than I do. He's just jealous because he's not in Star Wars. He's got some issue with JJ [Abrams] – I don't know what the f*** it is. You need to talk to Simon about it."
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens will be released on 18 December worldwide and is "widely tipped to be 2015's highest-grossing movie [in] what looks set to be a record-breaking year for Hollywood at the global box office", The Guardian says.
Star Wars 7: Comic Con fans treated to behind-the-scenes footage
With five months to wait before the release of the first new Star Wars film in a decade, fans at the San Diego Comic Con were treated to a behind-the-scenes video clip, as well as live interviews with Harrison Ford, JJ Abrams and some of the core team behind the new film.
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens was filmed in Abu Dhabi, Ireland, and Pinewood Studios in the UK between May and November last year. The hotly awaited movie is predicted to set new box office records when it is released at the end of the year.
The three-minute video shown at Comic Con and introduced by the film's director JJ Abrams emphasises the team's preference for using real locations and miniature models rather than green screens and computer-generated imagery wherever possible.
Abrams has said that he wishes to ensure that the new film, the first in a third Star Wars trilogy produced by Disney, will be aesthetically similar to the original Star Wars movies.
Audience members also had the opportunity to ask questions of some of the original and returning cast members of Star Wars, including Harrison Ford, who plays Han Solo, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Daisy Ridley (who plays a new character, Rey) and John Boyega (another new character, Finn).
Ford, 72, said that returning to Star Wars after 30 years "felt great".
"It should have felt ridiculous," Ford said of being back on set. "It was 30 plus years ago, and I sort of grew up. Yet here I was. I will tell you that it felt great."
The new film is set 31 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI, Return of the Jedi, which was released in 1983, and 69 years after the series got underway – sequentially speaking – with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (which was in fact filmed in 1999).
Some fans had queued for several days to attend the Star Wars event, the BBC reports. Fan sites subjected the short film to intense scrutiny, picking out insights including the confirmation that Simon Pegg will be in the film, and that Ken Leung will appear as some kind of military officer.
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens will be released worldwide on 18 December.
Star Wars 7 spin-off to explore how Han Solo became a smuggler
Sticking to its promise to deliver a new Star Wars film every year from 2015, Disney has unveiled the latest spin-off project from that galaxy far, far away.
Following hot on the heels of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, its as-yet unnamed sequel and the first "anthology" film, Star Wars: Rogue One, Disney has announced a new spin-off that will explore the back-story of the "smuggler-turned-hero" Han Solo.
The film, which is set of release in 2018, will be directed by in-demand duo Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, who were behind last year's animated hit The Lego Movie.
"This is the first film we've worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with," Miller and Lord said in a statement on the Star Wars website. "We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us."
The directors added: "This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you're late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you've loved since before you can remember having dreams at all."
While the cast has yet to be announced, the film will be written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jon Kasdan. The elder Kasdan will be familiar to Star Wars fans as the writer of Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, which is often regarded as the highlight of the long-running space saga. His son is a relative newcomer to Hollywood, but has written for TV shows such as Dawson's Creek and several minor films.
According to Disney, the Han Solo film will focus on "how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley."
Han Solo was originally played by veteran actor Harrison Ford. Ford's five-second appearance in the most recent Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer sent fans into paroxysms of nostalgic pleasure. "No lie. I almost cried seeing Han Solo in the new #StarWars trailer", wrote one Twitter user.
The untitled Han Solo film is scheduled to be released on 25 May 2018.
Star Wars 7: is Daisy Ridley's character really Han Solo's daughter?
With just months to go before Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens opens in British cinemas, rumours have been growing that Daisy Ridley's hints about the parentage of her on-screen character, Rey, may have been an elaborate ruse designed to throw the film's avid fans off the scent.
Warning possible spoilers ahead
In an interview on Japanese TV in March, the British star appeared to drop a major hint that her character in Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens will be the daughter of Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford.
When asked about her character in the film, Ridley replied: "I'm not sure how much I can say. I guess because I have said that I am 'solitary', that's how I begin – that is probably a big clue as to what it is."
Many fans took the actress's comments as a confirmation that Rey is the daughter of returning character Han. But now the consensus on the matter appears to be weakening as "well-regarded" sources speculate that Rey may have no genetic connection to Solo whatsoever.
Fan site MakingStarWars.net talked to some of its "most reliable sources" about their views on the matter. One said that in his view "None of the heroes – the kids – are Solos or Skywalkers." Another agreed: "she is not a Solo."
Jason Ward, the editor of MakingStarWars.net, says that he believes it is still possible that Rey will turn out to be Solo's daughter, but that the next film may not answer the question.
"If anything I think this could be a reminder that VII is about setting up plot threads more than finishing them," Ward says. "It is the first film in a trilogy and there might be some outliers and big 'historical' story points saved for the follow-ups."
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens will be released worldwide on 18 December.