TFA Teaser Breakdown and Speculation
I was fortunate enough to see The Force Awakens second teaser (twice!) with nearly 8,000 fellow Star Wars fans at the Celebration Stage to kick off Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Now more than a week has past since the teaser’s reveal, and while I’ve watched it what seems countless times already, I sat down over the weekend to really dissect and digest what J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm have chosen to reveal with still more than 230 days until its release.
My initial reaction? I’ve got a ton of awesome new computer desktop wallpaper to get me to December 17! (Yes, I know it’s the 18th but the 17th will see me in line for the midnight release.) As you’ll see throughout my commentary below, each of these screen grabs are not only visually stunning in the most powerful way, but they also tell a fraction of the story to come and seem to build on each other during the 90-second collection of shots. I’ll admit to tearing up while watching it the first 94 times and now that it’s sunk in, I’ve boiled down the main shots to what I think they mean.
Warning: These views are mine and mine alone. I am the foremost authority on my own opinion.
#1 – Crashed ships on Jakku
What we see: The opening shot slowly reveals itself. At first, your eyes are drawn to what appears to be Rey’s speeder zooming across Jakku’s desert surface, but as the camera continues to pan to the right a crashed Star Destroyer looms on the horizon. I can still hear the cheers rising up from the Anaheim Arena crowd as the Empire’s iconic ship came into view. In the foreground is an X-wing that’s seen better days. There’s no smoke coming out of either ship. They’ve been there awhile.
What I see: The new trilogy will tell the story of a new government. The prequel trilogy told the story of the Republic and we witnessed its downfall. The original trilogy was all about the Galactic Empire and its defeat at the hands of a Rebel Alliance. One of the main concepts in the Star Wars story that really adds depth and complexity is the inclusion of politics, corruption, and oppression, and what we know so far is that those themes will continue.
#2 – Darth Vader’s helmet
What we see: Another rolling shot brings Darth Vader’s helmet into view during which Luke’s statement to Leia in Return of the Jedi in the Ewok village is spoken: “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it…”
What I see: We are picking up right where we left off, even though this film takes place 30 years after Jedi. We last saw Luke ceremoniously burning his father’s body and his iconic suit on Endor. Vader was defeated but this image tells me his legacy lived on. While Anakin may only be a Force ghost now, his time serving the Emperor as a Dark Lord of the Sith created ripples in time that his family and their friends are forced to deal with.
#3 – Luke and R2-D2
What we see: Luke’s voice continues from the previous scene, saying “I have it…” and we are led to believe we are seeing Luke and his bionic right hand (severed in a duel with his father on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back) reach out and touch the beloved astromech droid in a tender way. “That little droid and I have been through a lot together,” Luke told a hangar worker in A New Hope while climbing into the X-wing he eventually piloted to destroy Death Star 1. Clearly he still has some strong feelings for the droid. Luke and R2 are near a fire with burning embers.
What I see: I do believe this is Luke, tipped off by his outstretched hand. Some are stating it looked different in Empire and Jedi, but we never saw it without flesh so I’m not convinced there’s much to that speculation. What I do feel is important is the setting – the fire and its embers. Destruction seems to be a continuous theme – the crashed ships, Vader’s distorted helmet, and now something burning before Luke just as we left him watching his father burn. More plot speculation has Luke in exile in this film, but this scene seems to squelch that somewhat as his robe does not appear to be tattered and his shirt is fairly crisp and clean. The flames also may tie into a shot we see later in the teaser… maybe.
#4 – Anakin’s and Luke’s old lightsaber
What we see: An orange-skinned creature hands a lightsaber to what appears to be a young female, while Luke’s Jedi line “My sister has it…” is heard. The body language of the person receiving it suggests she is touching it for the first time, so with Luke’s voice over we are left to assume Leia is the one being handed the Jedi weapon. Even more curious is that Star Wars “experts” have studied the lightsaber hilt and claim it is Anakin’s original lightsaber, used to murder the Jedi (and younglings) after Order 66, against Obi-Wan on Mustafar, and then passed on to Luke in A New Hope. If this is true (which I hope it is), the last time we saw the hilt was in Luke’s severed hand in Empire and presumably lost in Cloud City’s ventilation system or somewhere on Bespin below.
What I see: I referred to this above – this appears to be a young woman’s hands and arms and I don’t think they belong to Carrie Fisher. Either the lightsaber is being handed to Rey (Daisy Ridley) or this is a flashback scene to when Leia was younger and received the lightsaber, sometime during the past 30 years. If you’ll recall, Carrie Fisher accidentally confirmed her daughter had a part in The Force Awakens, so could this be why? The scene then fades to black and we hear Luke say “You have that power, too.” Of course we don’t know who specifically he was talking to, but this line was also directly from Jedi in which Leia says to Luke that he has a power she doesn’t understand and could never have. Luke responds: “You’re wrong Leia. You have that power, too. In time you’ll learn to use it as I have.” Is there something there? We shall see!
#5 – More Poe, X-wings, and water
What we see: From this point, the teaser really picks up and the music swells. Shots are quick and full of action! This first one is awesome! We certainly got to know what X-wings looked like flying through space, dog-fighting TIE fighters and destroying Death Stars. So far we’ve seen the new modeled X-wings twice and both times zipping along over water – and it’s absolutely glorious. This scene is followed by a quick shot of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) yelling like a cowboy in an X-wing cockpit with the same flight suit and helmet we saw in the first teaser. It followed nicely with Isaac’s remark during The Force Awaken‘s panel at Star Wars Celebration when he described Poe as the “best freaking pilot in the galaxy.”
What I see: I don’t read a lot into this shot because I think you just need to take it at face value. My only comment is from a macro perspective how amazing this movie is going to look and feel. The ships look real, as in beat up, dirty, worn – a.k.a. believable. The scenery is clean and crisp – blue sky with puffy clouds. The X-wings perhaps are flying low to avoid detection. War on a pristine planet – reminds me of Naboo, Kashyyyk, and Endor. The camera angle makes you feel the speed and power. It is breathtaking.
#6 – The antagonist!
What we see: The shots continue at a fast pace and we get to witness Kylo Ren wielding the new lightsaber with crossguards that has spurned so much discussion about its practicality and effectiveness. I’m including two screen grabs from the same shot because I recently noticed something weird before we move to the next shot. After Ren’s swipe you see a stormtrooper, fiery embers (like the ones we saw in shot #3 above perhaps tying those scenes together) and what looks like a teepee? Weird. What do you think that is in the background behind the stormtrooper? Perhaps a primitive village of some sort. This scene appears to continue below when we see Ren, stormtroopers, fire, and what appears to be the planets inhabitants.
What I see: Seeing the lightsaber in action is simply awesome. It appears to be very large and heavy like the broad sword of the Middle Ages. It is red, which means its owner is Sith or has been consumed by the dark side of the Force if the story continues on its historical themes. Being that the lightsaber crystal(s) emulate its owner, this tells us Ren is a follower or practitioner of the dark side. The questions in my mind are whether Ren constructed it himself or did he find/steal the saber and it’ll be accompanied by an interesting back story about its origin and place in the history of the Star Wars Universe? As for what Ren and the stormtrooper are involved with in this shot, it ties in with a later scene where flametroopers are torching what appears to be more civilian property. My speculation is that Ren leads his forces around the galaxy in extermination type efforts as the name “First Order” implies something cult like – and Ren and his forces are practicing genocide. Hey! That’s what the Empire did against the Jedi. It was just ethnic cleansing, right? Anakin and the sandpeople know what I’m talking about.
#7 – Our heroes together
What we see: Rey, Finn (first time not in a stormtrooper outfit), and BB-8 are fleeing a TIE fighter’s attack on Jakku with a large explosion behind them. I didn’t realize BB-8’s size in comparison to humans and other droids until I saw him roll out onto stage at Celebration. He’s half the size of R2-D2 and you can really see the size relation here in this shot. He really is adorable and so likable already.
What I see: Teaser No. 1 introduced the main characters but each were in their own shot. This is the first time we get to see them all together and the story begins to unfold by implying that Finn (John Boyega) joins Rey and they are united in this conflict against a common foe. We see later what appears to be Rey offering her hand to help Finn up in what appears to be the same scene on Jakku. Will this be the new love story in the Sequel Trilogy? Is this the Han and Leia from the OT? I have a strong feeling that this will be the case.
#8 – The Force!
What we see: I referred to this shot earlier in the post. We see flametroopers torching what appears to be civilian property, and this shot makes it appear creatures or people are standing around a structure that reminds me of a moisture vaporator on Tatooine. The scene is very quick and has Ren turning around and using a classic Force push move with his right hand while holding his lightsaber in the other. It’s a threatening pose and implies that he and his squad are being threatened themselves as the stormtroopers in the shot also look back.
What I see: We get a great look at Ren’s mask. It’s a mix of Darth Revan from the EU and Plo Koon from The Clone Wars and the prequel trilogy. I see the new films perhaps following the original trilogy by introducing a masked antagonist (Darth Vader), building the back story and creating mystery around the character, and then finally revealing what he looks like in the last film.
#9 – The First Order
What we see: The scene is a snowy planet. The First Order stormtroopers en masse are in formation in what appears to a well-armed base with turbolasers reminiscent of those on Death Star 1 that failed to keep the Rebel Alliance from navigating down the trench that led to the exhaust port. A TIE fighter is parked on the left. The troopers all turn around simultaneously giving us the sense of unity and discipline – all while standing below the First Order emblem. Whoever that dark-robed figure is on the platform center shot has his troops trained well. Speaking of trained, a well trained eye would probably peg the figure to be Kylo Ren with a chrometrooper (more on this character below) just behind and to the right.
What I see: With all the shots of Ren and stormtroopers together, we’re left to surmise he is their leader at some level. This the first shot we really get to see the new stormtroopers in their armor sans the quick flash of a shot aboard a troop transport in the first teaser. This shot is in broad daylight and gives you a confirming sense of their numbers and strength. Of course, the snow scene causes the mind to immediately go to Hoth. Although in the first teaser we see Ren stumbling through a snowy forest before igniting his saber. Is this the same planet? Perhaps. Did Hoth have forests? We definitely were led to believe Hoth didn’t have enough life on it to fill a space cruiser. But was 30+ years ago.
#10 – TIE fighter vs. stormtroopers?
What we see: In the most confusing shot of the teaser, a TIE fighter hovers and shoots at stormtroopers who are firing back. That makes zero sense on the surface – unless you tend to lean toward the belief there’s one faction of the First Order fighting another. Your eyes are drawn immediately to a stormtrooper flying head over heels the victim of an explosion. Great action shot with more fire and explosions continuing the excitement that the teaser keeps pouring on after a more methodical and dramatic start.
What I see: Wait a minute! That TIE fighter looks like the same one parked at the snowy base in the previous shot. In fact, another TIE of the same design sits parked to the left in the hangar in this shot. So it can’t be another faction. This is where my speculation comes in that this is a scene where Finn is making his escape and defecting to Jakku. In the next shot of the teaser, we see Finn taking off his stormtrooper helmet and out of breath. Could tie into this scene nicely. Finn may be blasting his way out of the hangar and eventually lands on Jakku and continues running from the First Order before eventually meeting up with Rey. OK, enough plot speculation. But there it is.
#11 – Chometrooper
What we see: There’s a handful of other quick shots I left out for the sake of time and space (BB-8 peaking around the corner of the Falcon; Rey with a closeup distressed look on her face; two TIE fighters attacking; A newly designed shuttle heading toward a Star Destroyer-looking ship; Finn on the ground with what we think is Rey extending her hand to help him up). I wanted to get to this shot straightaway because this is the most intriguing character of the film to me and perhaps has the most mystery around him or her. We see a chromed-out stormtrooper (mentioned earlier in #9) with a cape walking down a corridor with what appears to be rock or a cave on one side and a backdrop that looks eerily similar to Death Star 1. The shot is kind of in slow motion giving you the sense the character is walking with meaning and purpose since this is the first time we’ve got a good look at her. Yes, I said her.
What I see: The rumors are this character is played by a female and if you tie in the earlier shot on the snowy base, she is standing next to Ren on the platform above the throngs of troopers. So we’ve got a stormtrooper with special armor in a high-ranking position doing an ominous walk inside what I think is a base of some sort. I am very intrigued by the backdrop of this shot with the vertical lines, a la Death Star 1 interior. I don’t recall seeing that pattern ever in Empire or Jedi, so I’m thinking it’s a throwback to the classic look from A New Hope.
#12 – More Falcon! Yes please!
What we see: The final sequence starts with the Millennium Falcon being chased through and around structures on Jakku. As the Falcon soars past, barely scraping the ground again like it did in the first teaser, you see a TIE fighter in pursuit lasers blasting away. The shot then changes to see the Falcon entering the main engine structure of a Super Star Destroyer that is laying belly up. The second set of engines in the background give the ship away, and it is absolutely massive when you consider the size of the Falcon. Wookieepedia lists the SSD at nearly 18km long, and it’s grandeur is evident as the Falcon swoops in easily with the TIE fighter giving chase. If you aren’t reminded of the Falcon maneuvering through Death Star 2’s super structure toward the main reactor then you need to go watch Jedi again. Now!
What I see: More death and destruction on Jakku. We had a crashed Star Destroyer in the opening scene nearly blocking out the sun because of its size. This ship is approximately 11 times longer than a Star Destroyer. The Battle of Jakku, which Electronic Arts (EA) has spoiled a bit in their release about Star Wars: Battlefront DLC available in early December, reportedly took place shortly after the Battle of Endor. The evidence suggests this was a massive conflict that saw the crumbling Galactic Empire devastated and its remains scattered across the Jakku desert landscape. Simply awesome!
#13 – TIE pilot
What we see: The second shot of the final sequence switches to the TIE cockpit where we see the new look TIE pilots. The TIE fighters themselves are more chromed out vs. the typical gray we are used to, and the TIE pilot uniforms seems to follow suit. Interesting there are two breathing ports on the TIE pilot’s helmet but only one is being used.
What I see: No, I don’t think this is the chrometrooper from the earlier scenes. I think it’s your typical TIE pilot – dime a dozen. It was neat to see how they look compared to the usual all-black uniform and buckets from the OT, but I think this shot can be taken pretty much at face value and there’s not a lot to read into this.
#14 – “Chewie, we’re home!”
What we see: Han Solo. Chewbacca. The Falcon. Need I say more? Yes, Han. We’re indeed home. Like you and Chewie, we’re all back where we belong. In the final shot of the second teaser, Han looks upon his old ship with great fondness and nostalgia as he lowers his defenses and utters those already famous words “Chewie, we’re home!” Han’s faithful Wookiee copilot and companion remains a little more on alert with his bow caster at the ready, but does emit that famous roar acknowledging Han’s remarks and the Star Wars: The Force Awakens logo splashes onto the screen and folds into place to signal the teaser’s end.
What I see: When I’d wiped the tears from my face and the roar of the Celebration crowd had died down, I was able to reflect on this. Our favorite smuggling duo had their weapons drawn, so they apparently needed to take the ship back, which implies they had lost it. The look on Han’s face tells us it had been some time since he and Chewie had stepped foot on the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
Simply stated, this is the bridge between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy. We haven’t seen Han aboard the Falcon since he stepped off of it in Cloud City! With all the new concepts, characters, ships, planets, and weapons that The Force Awakens and the other two films will bring us, we’re quickly snapped back to our childhoods and the fact that this film will continue the story we all love. Han wasn’t just speaking to Chewie. He was speaking to every Star Wars fan. We’re most certainly home!
May the Force be with you.