Star Wars: The Force Awakens is heading to Anaheim this weekend for Disney's big D23 celebration, where all of the latest Disney, LucasFilm and Marvel movies and TV shows will be on full display. But yesterday, director J.J. Abrams confirmed what he said during Comic-Con. There will be no new trailer or footage shown during his presentation. To make up for it, EW has released a stunning new cover for their Fall Movie edition, which features new Star Wars 7 villain Kylo Ren. It is accompanied by 12 new photos (some of which are similar to others we've seen in the recent past). Best of all, there is a ton of new information about the making of the movie and the story that will unfold in theaters this December. There are a few mild spoilers ahead.
It's without question that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is one of the most anticipated movies of all time. In the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams reveals what made him sign on for this mammoth undertaking. It all boiled down to one question about Luke Skywalker. What happened to the aging Jedi? The magazine also goes in-depth into the history behind cover villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his relationship to Darth Vader. Harrison Ford and others give an account of what it was like on his first day back on set as Han Solo. We also learn who Daisy Ridley's Rey rescues ball-droid BB-8 from. We also learn if J.J. Abrams has any inclination to come back and direct Star Wars: Episode IX.
J.J. Abrams famously declined repeated requests by Lucasfilm to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He wanted to direct some original projects after taking the helm on 2009's Star Trek reboot and the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. But the question, 'Who is Luke Skywalker?' Drew the actor in and sold his fate. This was a story he wanted to tell. But when he signed, there was no finalized story. The Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo Movie was already in the works, though it was only recently announced. About taking on scripting duties, the director revealed this.
"[They] had just been hypothesizing and throwing out a bunch of what-ifs, but there was no story in place. It was, without doubt, a formidable assignment. There were so many options and so many paths that could be taken. Even when we were in debate, and sometimes it was frustrating and heated, it was always thrilling, because it seemed almost everywhere you looked there was something potentially extraordinary, which felt very much like the DNA of Star Wars itself. My guess is that any question that anyone would be having was among the endless questions we were asking at the very beginning."
J.J. Abrams wouldn't reveal any story details about the state of the galaxy when Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins its opening scene. But he did iterate what we already can sense from the teaser, trailer and various images: There is no peace, and war still rages. The Empire has morphed into The First Order. And Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron flies an X-Wing for a splinter group of the Rebellion now known as The Resistance. One big new reveal is that Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia is in possession of the lightsaber that once belonged to her father Anakin Skywalker, before he was Darth Vader. Yes, it is the same blue lightsaber that Luke Skywalker, her bother, lost when his hand was severed during the climactic end fight scene in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. How she got it back is anyone's guess.
The amount of screen time Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have as Luke and Leia sounds like it is limited. But Harrison Ford, who returns as Han Solo, is one of the main leads in this particular story. As is his co-pilot Chewbacca. Producer Kathleen Kennedy had this to say about the overall tone of the movie.
"The themes and ideas that we all continue to talk about are the themes and ideas that were the inherent in the original movies. We're looking, obviously, for aspiration, for characters who are conflicted between good and evil, dark and light. George [Lucas] spoke often about that tension in everybody between what's good and bad. He always felt that it was easier to be bad than good. I'm not sure all people would agree, but I think that that's always an interesting conflict to explore. So that's a big part of the themes inside of Episode VII. I think we can't explore in quite as much detail issues of compassion, the way [Lucas] did in terms of the values of the Jedi. But we're going to get there, let's put it that way. In the arc of all three movies, that will increase."
Star Wars: Episode VIII is being handed over to writer and director Rian Johnson. But don't expect J.J. Abrams to come back and finish the new trilogy with Star Wars: Episode IX. He is dead set against returning in a directorial capacity. About the opportunity, he exclaims.
"No, I'm not going to direct Episode IX, as much as I am deeply envious of anyone who gets to work with this group of people on the future movies. It's a thrill to see [Johnson] take things and elevate them beyond what we had imagined at the time."
Star Wars: Episode VIII will be Rian Johnson's movie. While it will certainly connect with the tone and elements at play in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he wrote the script himself, starting from scratch. He only knew what happened in this upcoming chapter, and was able to project on his own from their. It sounds like it will be a distinctly different experience than Star Wars 7. You can read more about the productions here.