In the days leading into Comic-Con, Star Wars: The Force Awakens fans got some rather disheartening news. There would be no new trailer or footage from the movie shown during the massive Hall H panel on Friday night. Some thought it was all a ruse. "How could they hold a Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel, on Star Wars Day (traditionally every Friday at SDCC), and NOT show new footage?" Someone probably said and/or thought in the aftermath of this crushing news. Fans were assured that the panel would still be insightful and entertaining, and, guess what? Those assurances were not false by any means. It's true, director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan didn't unveil a new trailer or any actual footage from the movie itself, but they did reveal a fascinating behind-the-scenes video that shed plenty of new light on the production. And even confirmed a long-rumored cast member and plot details.
When the panel was first announced, all we knew was that J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan would be present, and that there would be "special guests." There were special guests, a ton of them, but before they were rolled out in groups, representing the "light" side of the Force, the "dark" side, and, of course, the "old school" side, producer Kathleen Kennedy spoke about how meaningful the fans were to this franchise, perhaps more so than any other property.
"I think a lot of people out there know that Star Wars is 100% dependent on the fans in this room and all over the world, since 1976. In fact, when the movie was ready to come out, it was really the fans that built the momentum around the release of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. We are right back around, in full circle, and we want to say thank you to all of you."
The filmmakers showed their undying appreciation to the fans several times at the panel, and even did so long beforehand, delivering donuts to the masses who were camped out outside of Hall H, waiting for their chance to see these filmmakers and "special guests," i.e. the main cast members. Before the cast came out, J.J. Abrams even trotted out one of the practical creatures used in the movie, right on the Hall H stage, "Bobbajo," a robotic creature that takes five people to operate. While Kathleen Kennedy even dropped a tidbit about the first spinoff movie, Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One, which starts shooting in just three weeks at Pinewood Studios in London.
J.J. Abrams also confirmed that there is a cut of the movie that they're fine-tuning, stated right before they showed the behind-the-scenes footage. The director revealed that, while they weren't ready to show new footage yet, he knew how important this movie was to the Hall H crowd, and they just had to bring something to show them. Here's what he had to say below.
"The truth is, we aren't ready to show you scenes from the movie or a new trailer, and we really want to wait and do the trailer later in the fall, but we knew this was too important, coming to you who care about this and love this so much, and we wanted to bring something that was as unique and unexpected as we could. We put together a piece that you're going to see, that we hope would bring you into the process a little bit, of what it was like to make this movie, and see some of the people who are doing it. So, we have that."
After the wonderful behind-the-scenes video, the panel's "special guests," the main cast members, were brought out in groups of three. First was the new characters representing the "light" side of The Force, Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), followed, naturally, by the "dark" side ambassadors, Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) and Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), concluding with the beloved fan favorites Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo). Between the panel, moderated by Chris Hardwick, and the behind-the-scenes video, fans learned a ton of new information about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which we're exhaustively breaking down for you right here. So, take a deep breath, and lets delve through Star Wars: The Force Awakens together.
New Villains and the Starkiller Base
Over the past few months, we've gotten confirmation that Adam Driver is Kylo Ren, the cloaked baddie with the bizarre crossguard lightsaber first revealed in the teaser trailer from November. And that Gwendoline Christie is portraying Captain Phasma, a First Order Stormtrooper/Chrometrooper who is believed to be hunting the rogue Stormtrooper Finn. It was finally confirmed during the panel who Domhnall Gleeson is playing, the villainous General Hux. The actor did let it slip that his headquarters is known as Starkiller Base, which J.J. Abrams confirmed is the base of the First Order, "in honor of the original last name of Luke Skywalker." Domhnall Gleeson did say his character is "evil," but no further details about this character and his Starkiller Base were divulged, and it isn't known if there is any comparison to be made between this base and the Death Star, in regards to either the size of the base itself, and/or its offensive weaponry or its defensive shields. So, who are these villains? Why are they villainous? What's up with the crossguard light saber? If Kylo Ren is the new Sith warrior, surely he must be the apprentice, right? And, if he is the apprentice, who is the master? Is General Hux the master? Sadly, we got no answers to these questions, but the Starkiller homage could hint that there are several other obscure homages to the Star Wars universe at large.