10 tidbits revealed at the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ panel

Naveen Ganglani
10 tidbits revealed at the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ panel

Mark Fredesjed R. Cristino

Missed out on this epic night? Here are some of the highlights from the event

MANILA, Philippines – Are you still reeling from watching the second teaser of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? It’s okay, so are we. And surely, so are many others in galaxies far, far away.

While the second teaser was the highlight – hello, Han Solo and Chewie! – there were many other tidbits that came out from the Star Wars Celebration held in Anaheim, California. (READ: ‘Star Wars’ emojis now available on Twitter)

The event, which was simultaneously streamed all over the world, had a discussion panel where film director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy talked about making the film and what fans can expect. (READ: ‘Star Wars’ will be on iTunes PH)

Not long after, three stars of The Force Awakens – John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Daisy Ridley – and some of the cast from the first Star Wars trilogy arrived onstage, much to the delight of die-hard fans everywhere. 

Here are 10 tidbits from the Star Wars Celebration:

1. More on Jakku 

Remember the desert planet in the first teaser trailer? Many assumed it would be Taootine, but Abrams confirmed during the panel that it’s a new planet called Jakku.

The director and Kennedy didn’t reveal much information about the new location, but did say that shooting was held in Abu Dhabi. 

Jakku, it seems, will be a consistent fixture in The Force Awakens, considering a lot of scenes in the second teaser takes place on the planet. Ridley, who plays Rey, said that this is where her character resides, and it’s where she meets Finn and new droid BB-8.

2. More female characters are coming

NEW FACES. From left: Oscar Isaac, director JJ Abrams, Daisy Ridley, producer Kathleen Kennedy, John Boyega. Screengrab from YouTube

Kennedy confirmed that more female characters are going to be present not only in the seventh film of the saga, but for the rest of the upcoming trilogy.

Kennedy said that these females will be “great characters,” and added that “going forward with all we’re talking about, there are going to be a lot of wonderful new [female] characters.”

Kennedy has two daughters, both of whom are huge Star Wars fans.

3. Is Finn a Stormtrooper? Maybe a Jedi? 

Out of the three main cast members, Boyega, who plays Finn, looked the most excited. He even shared his experience asking an autograph from Harrison Ford during shooting and having his memorabilia signed by the cast.

Boyega didn’t directly confirm if his character is a stormtrooper, as it looked in the first teaser, but jokingly nodded at one point when the question was asked. 

Hours after the panel finished, IGN came out with a report that included concept art images of Finn with a lightsaber that appears to be similar to the one used by Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith and Luke Skywalker in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back

So, could Finn actually be a Jedi? Or is he really a Stormtrooper? Maybe he’s a Jedi in a Stormtrooper’s attire at one point? Remember, Luke did the same in the first ever Star Wars movie.

All Boyega says about his character is that Finn is in “incredible danger” and the way he reacts to it commences his Star Wars journey.

4. Goodbye to the buns and metal bikini

Remember the iconic scenes in Return of the Jedi when Princess Leia wore a metal bikini? How about the way she’d always tie her hair in a bun, coming up with a hairstyle that would live on for generations after?

Unfortunately, both styles won’t be returning for The Force Awakens. “The buns are tired now,” said Carrie Fisher, who played Leia in three movies. “But we have something else,” she promised, before later confirming: “that’s not going to be the metal bikini!”

5. Harrison Ford will be up and about in time for the premiere

CHEWIE, WE'RE HOME. Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo. Screengrab from YouTube

Ford’s popular character was present in the second teaser, but the actor himself was unable to attend the celebration as he’s resting up from injuries sustained by an aircraft emergency situation back in March. 

Abrams gave an update on Ford, indicating he’s doing well. “He sends his best and he’s doing great and working hard.”

“I’ve never had more respect for a guy than to see how he landed that plane. He’s more of a hero with that move than he is in any of the movies he’s been in.”

Abrams said Ford will be present and active ahead of The Force Awakens premiere.

6. The usage of practical effects

Abrams confirmed during the panel that The Force Awakens will use practical effects. “It’s Star Wars,” the director said, “There will be an endless number of effects. We needed a standard. You want it to be legitimate and authentic.”

In lieu of that, the film’s new droid BB-8, who’s also now a Twitter emoticon, is an actual live prop and not just a CGI design. 

“I was amazed,” Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, told IGN about the new droid.

“It was better for the actors and better for the film itself,” Abrams described the live-prop droid, who didn’t take long to garner the adoration of both die-hard and casual Star Wars fans.

7. Who are Rey and Poe Dameron?

RUN! Rey and Finn run from danger. Screengrab from YouTube

We know quite a bit now about Finn; but how about his co-main protagonists? Daisy and Isaac, who play Rey and Poe Dameron, respectively, didn’t reveal much, but gave just enough information for us to imagine how their characters are.

Daisy labels Rey as a “complete self-sufficient” scavenger whose adventure kicks off once she meets another character.

Isaac, meanwhile, described Dameron as the “best freakin’ pilot in the galaxy!” He also says that he gets sent on a mission by a “certain princess,” and that Dameron and Finn’s fates are “forever intertwined” after meeting each other.

8. The most fun Abrams has had in his career

JJ Abrams needs no introduction, having worked on multiple Mission Impossible and Star Trek films, among many others. But directing The Force Awakens? It’s the most fun he’s ever had, he admits.

“There are moments where the pressure of what we’re doing – honoring the legacy – it’s the most important thing that we’re all working on,” he said.

“There are moments of sheer horror. The reality is, I’ve never had more fun in my life working on anything.”

9. The Stormtroopers have a new look

Screengrab from YouTube

Decades after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Stormtroopers are back in The Force Awakens, and with a new look!

The biggest different are their masks, which now have a more sophisticated black-lining pattern.

10. The Star Wars fans are the most important 

Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

Fans of the saga are some of the most loyal people in the world. It’s been 10 years since a last Star Wars film came out, yet 22 countries and thousands of people simultaneously watched the Celebration in Anaheim. 

“I don’t think there’s anything more important in the Star Wars universe than the fans,” Kennedy said. “We’re fans too. Everyone inside the Lucasfilm Organization are fans.”

She later added: “That generational experience is something that is really important and it’s everything in terms of the future of Star Wars.” – Rappler.com

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