This week kicked off with 12 new photos from Star Wars: The Force Awakens in anticipation of the sequel's inclusion at this weekend's D23 Expo. While director J.J. Abrams has confirmed that no new trailer or footage will debut at the Disney showcase, we do get to see a little more from the anticipated release in these images, which have now been released in high-res after first premiering in EW's fall movie guide. The latest sneak peek highlights old and new characters alike, with both heroes and villains struggling to win over the galaxy. Tread forth cautiously, there are SPOILERS below.
The first photo will be familiar to anyone who attended Star Wars Celebration or Comic-Con, as this scene has been hinted at before in previous photos and behind-the-scenes footage. It shows new heroes Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) running from First Order troops on the planet Jakku. Finn is an AWOL Stormtrooper who teams up with Rey, though their mission has not been revealed at this time. Neither of their last names has been revealed, and that's on purpose. J.J. Abrams has teased that the identities of these two individuals will open a wider mystery and play into the events of the next two films in the new trilogy, Star Wars: Episode VIII in 2017 and Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019.
The second photo shows us villain Kylo Ren, portrayed by Adam Driver, flanked by his First Order troops. This emerging dark force is not actually a Sith Lord, but hails from the Knights of Ren. He is obsessed with Darth Vader, and is rumored to collect artifacts belonging to both the Sith and the Jedi. Does he know that Princess Leia holds Anakin's original blue lightsaber? The one Luke lost on Bespin in that infamous dual with his father? It's being speculated that Kylo is on a mission to retrieve the lightsaber for his collection, and that, gasp...Darth Vader may actually be his grandfather! His villain's journey is said to mirror the hero's journey of Luke Skywalker. And if you look closely in the background of this photo, you will see a funeral pyre burning. Is he cremating the remains of Han Solo after having beheaded the legendary space pirate?
The third photo shows Finn after crash-landing his TIE Fighter on the planet of Jakku. Still in his First Order Stormtrooper outfit, he has yet to meet Rey. The fourth photo gives us our first official look at Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux. He is one of the main new bad guys, though we don't yet have the full backstory on his evil ways. It is believed that Finn was under his command. And after the Stormtrooper went AWOL, Hux decides to scour the galaxy looking for him. And he finds Finn hiding on the planet of Jakku. The fifth photo offers a better look at Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie. Phasma was named in honor of Don Coscarelli's 1979 cult classic Phantasm, because the iconic orb in that movie looks just like her new silver Stormtrooper armor.
The sixth photo shows X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who flies for the Rebel splinter group known as The Resistance. The seventh photo is another shot of Rey as she picks up and prepares ball droid BB-8 for a ride back to her home on Jakku, where she plans to clean up the discarded android for later sale. Also included in these photos is a high-res version of the now-iconic Han Solo and Chewbacca scene as they arrive back on the Millennium Falcon, which was believed to have been stolen from them. Retrieving it is the reason they've come to Jakku. And finally we get a shot of returning droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. The protocol droid now has a red arm, but we have yet to learn how he acquired the new off-colored limb.
Along with these images from the movie, we also get two behind-the-scenes shots with director J.J. Abrams on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens set. The first finds him giving Daisy Ridley direction on the planet of Jakku. The second image shows the director sitting with his co-writer Lawrence Kasdan inside an First Order space station that seems very reminiscent of the old Imperial Star Destroyers. Are they on the base known as General Hux's Star Killer as the pour over the latest revisions in the script? We'll have to wait until closer to the release date to find out. While we wait, take a look at the official high-res images from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While we're not getting any new scenes from Disney's D23, it is rumored that the first official one-sheet, drawn by legendary poster artist Drew Struzan will drop during the convention.