5 things we learned about The Force Awakens at the Star Wars Celebration event

Everyone’s buzzing about the latest teaser for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, but in the lead-up to Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm’s unveiling of the highly anticipated preview, the cast and creative team for the film spent a while discussing the much-anticipated new addition to the beloved franchise in front of a live (and live-streaming) audience at this week’s Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, CA.

Along with assembling an impressive lineup of the franchise’s veteran stars and newcomers that will be introduced in The Force Awakens, the event also included a hosted Q&A segment that revealed a few savory morsels of information certain to pique the interest of Star Wars fans. Below are five things we learned from the Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens preview event at Star Wars Celebration.

That’s not the desert planet you thought it was.

Star Wars Desert Planet

The backdrop for several scenes in the trailers for The Force Awakens is a desert planet that many assumed to be Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine. Not so, according to J.J. Abrams, who referred to the planet seen in that early teaser and the new footage as “Jakku” (pronounced “Jah-Ku”). The spelling for the planet’s name hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’s interesting to know that at least in this particular instance, Star Wars isn’t going home again.

It’s a buddy story… sort of.

star wars the force awakens ridley boyega

While cast newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac couldn’t go into too much detail regarding their characters or the dynamic of their relationships in The Force Awakens, the trio did seem to confirm the general roles they each play in the Star Wars universe. Boyega indicated that his character Finn is indeed a Stormtrooper, while Isaac confirmed that his character Poe Dameron is “the best freakin’ pilot in the galaxy.” As for Ridley, she described her character Rey as a “scavenger.” How these three characters end up on an adventure together, though, is anyone’s guess.

R2 gets a facelift and a new, non-CGI rival for cutest droid

R2 D2 robot

During the event, iconic android R2-D2 made a guest appearance on the stage, rolling out to a chorus of cheers and applause. Along with revealing that R2 will feature a few new tools and features in The Force Awakens, the conversation around the beloved droid eventually led to the introduction of another robotic member of the cast: BB-8, the memorable ball-based android seen in the first trailer for the film.

Proving that the droid is not solely a computer generated image, BB-8 rolled around the stage to the audience’s amazement, balancing his (her?) R2-style head along the soccer ball shaped torso in brilliant form. The two droids shared the stage, and exchanged what sounded like some good-natured smack-talking (or beeping and buzzing, in this case). Abrams confirmed that there may indeed be some animosity between the veteran droid and his modern counterpart, and that the passing of the torch might not be limited to the franchise’s human characters. BB-8’s physical form was emphasized as an important point for the actors and the overall feel of the movie, and could be seen as a microcosm of all that was wrong in the CGI-dominated second trilogy, and all that (hopefully) the new film gets right.

No buns? Say it ain’t so, Leia!


In a particularly lighthearted moment during the event, returning Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher was asked whether her character, Princess Leia, would be sporting the iconic side-bun hairstyle that she famously wore in the 1977 film. Fisher indicated that the side-buns had gone the way of her metal bikini from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and weren’t likely to make an appearance in The Force Awakens.

The new Star Wars has space ninjas.

Kylo Ren

Okay, so the term “space ninjas” was never actually uttered during the event, but the teaser did reveal an up-close look at Kylo Ren, the cloaked and seemingly cybernetic wielder of that fascinating triple-bladed lightsaber seen in the initial trailer.

Honestly, if that’s not a space ninja, we’re not sure what is.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015 — and, as today’s revelry has proven, it can’t come soon enough.


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