(Insert obvious “Many Bothans died…” joke)
Being a Star Wars fan is hard. The merchandise overload is tiring, the last three movies were massive disappointments, and the franchise creator seems to be ashamed of his original trilogy work too much to leave it alone. But with most of the baggage behind us and fresh blood coming in, perhaps it’s time to get excited again. The first teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, after a theatrical premiere early Black Friday morning, hit iTunes and then YouTube shortly thereafter.
It may only run a short 90 seconds, though for a movie that’s still over a year away there’s still plenty to pore over. The production design is very much in the spirit of the older movies with some tweaks here and there. There’s X-Wings, desert planets, speeders, stormtroopers, etc. My favorite part of this trailer, even more than the Millennium Falcon dodging TIE fighters set to the iconic John Williams music, is actually our short glimpse of the stormtroopers. After six movies of embarrassing blaster aim and weightless CGI armies, it looks like director J.J. Abrams and company are course correcting this by presenting them as legitimately imposing threats. The Empire may be fractured but they’re not going to roll over easy for the Rebels.
Another big point of note: no sign of Luke, Han or Leia. The teaser instead gives us the first glimpses of John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac’s roles. This gives me hope, because as much as I love the old characters and will enjoy seeing them suit up again, I want these new movies to move forward. No more Skywalker family saga and no more small universe crap where the same five people control an epic story. If this series wants to truly continue forward it needs to take bold new steps and not just regurgitate nostalgia. Present a universe that feels like it expands beyond the reach of this particular tale. Having the two leads be black and female is just one of those steps. Lando and Leia can’t control both demographics by themselves.
Another sign that gives me excitement: that cool looking Sith lightsaber that’s designed like a cross-guard sword. As neat as the lightsaber fights were in the prequels, they lacked the weight that these weapons conveyed in Luke and Vader’s hands. Lightsaber fights used to be more akin to medieval duels where each swing had powerful heft behind it rather than featherweight plastic toys, and it looks like this new saber is a strong indication of the direction the film will take with its clashes. They did cast Gwendoline Christie in an unknown role, so if the robed figure turns out to be her then it looks like Abrams wants to bring in some of that Game of Thrones action.
Anyway, I don’t want to overstay my welcome on such a short clip, and even though I’m approaching this film with extreme caution, there’s a part of me that is nonetheless excited that Star Wars is back and in (hopefully) capable hands.