Game over. It’s done. Star Wars won.
While the first major movie panel at Comic-Con happened on Thursday (The Hunger Games), the one which I think most people were looking forward to was the Lucasfilm panel. We were promised goodies from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and boy did we get some.
Hosted by Chris Hardwick, the panel began with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan on stage. They thanked the fans, Abrams revealed they have a cut of the movie, they got cheers etc, and Kasdan thanked George Lucas for bringing everybody there. Without him, none of this would have ever happened. Yeah, the Prequels were fucking awful, but you can’t escape the fact that it was Lucas’ imagination which has allowed all of this to come to life. They also talked about the importance of practical effects, at which point a new creature from the movie took the stage – Baba Jo! Or Babajo. I don’t know how you spell it.
There was a very large emphasis on practical effects at the panel, and that emphasis has been there for well over a year. It feels like not-so-subtle jabs at the Prequels for CGI-ing everything and a means to distance the new movies from them. Hey, I’m not complaining.
Next up John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac took to the stage – the three new leads of Star Wars. My favourite quote from their appearance has gotta be from Isaac, who revealed that he really wanted to ask Harrison Ford about flying, as Ford has his own plane in reality and both Han Solo and Poe Dameron (Isaac’s character) are pilots.
“Um, it’s fake. And also it’s in space so the same stuff doesn’t apply.”
Gotta love Harrison Ford!
Hardwick then brought in the three villains of the movie; Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Domnhall Gleeson as General Hux and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. I’m still not a huge fan of the names, but they’re growing on me. Gleeson remarked that his character is definitely evil “because I’m British,” and Christie expressed her excitement that there’s even a female stormtrooper in the movie and how it goes against your typical female character in a movie like this. However, what I found most interesting was what Adam Driver had to say about Kylo Ren, the main villain.
“We didn’t really have a lot of conversations about bad or evil, actually, when we were shooting it. It was more what do you think the difference between being bad and being right?… Thinking their right is almost more evil. A group of people who have decided that they’re morally justified in behaving a certain way.”
(quotes etc from Collider)
Y’know, I’m so relieved that he said this. One of my least favourite things about Star Wars is the whole ‘good vs evil’ aspect. The world isn’t black and white, and while the franchise is geared towards kids who obviously do believe in the simplification, it still wouldn’t have hurt to characterize the villains a little more. That’s why this is so exciting. Driver doesn’t call Kylo Ren ‘evil,’ he acknowledges that he is just a guy who has different motivations. I feel as if there is a wealth of potential to be explored in adding a little grey to the respective sides of the Force, so hopefully this is something which we’ll start to see more of in the new movies.
And then this happened.
Back at Star Wars Celebration in April, Ford unfortunately couldn’t attend due to his recent plane crash injury. Therefore, this marks the first time in a long, long while where the original cast are all together again. It’s heartwarming and beautiful to see. I think my little nerdy heart might break.
“Well it should’ve felt ridiculous. It was 30 freaking years ago and I sort of grew up. It was something I did so long ago, and I will tel you that it felt great. I wasn’t so sure it would, but the company was the right company, the director was the right director, Larry wrote us a wonderful story, and I was proud and grateful to once again be involved. The original Star Wars that I was part of really was the beginning of my working life, and I was very, very grateful for the opportunity that I had in that film, and the success I had in that film, so it was great to be back.”
Ford has never been the most enthusiastic about Han Solo (he’s gone on record saying he prefers Indiana Jones), so it’s awesome to see him actually expressing some excitement here.
After this (or before – I lost track whilst hyperventilating following this on Twitter) Abrams said that there won’t be another trailer until the Fall, however they did have some footage to show. Rather than any clips or anything like that, instead the team screened a behind-the-scenes featurette looking into the making of the movie, and it’s really quite beautiful.
I must have watched it four or five times by now. It’s a really special video, beautifully emphasising what a monumental event this is and how close these movies are to all of our hearts. Just by watching it you really get the impression that they care, which is more than we can say for the majority of film franchises.
And yes, perhaps most importantly… Simon Pegg is in the movie!!
Pegg was heavily rumoured to appear back during production so it’s nice to have it confirmed. Benedict Cumberbatch was also rumoured, as was Daniel Craig. Will they also be in it hidden under fat alien suits? One can only hope.
In case you couldn’t already tell, this panel was less about breaking news and more about basking in the legacy of Star Wars and remembering how great it is. Here in our run-down NY office, UTF hungers for breaking news so we can earn enough money to buy a burger from across the street, but we’re also geeks who appreciate stuff like this.
There are lots more quotes from the cast floating around, and if you’re that interested then you can probably find them at some other place – we’re more into just geeking out about all this awesomeness here. What do you think we are? A serious news publication? Ha. One little nugget that piqued our interest was something let slip by Domnhall Gleeson; he said that his character is in charge of ‘Starkiller Base’. J.J. Abrams then confirmed that that is the name of the First Order’s secret snowy base in the movie as a homage to back in the original movie drafts when Luke Skywalker was Luke Starkiller.
Soo… does this make The Force Unleashed canon or not?
What followed was the ultimate mic drop from J.J. Abrams and co. They invited the entirety of Hall H to a Star Wars concert.
Y’know, I like to be cynical about Comic-Con and pretend that I don’t need to go when I have my laptop and an internet connection, but when stuff like this happens it really makes me wish I could attend. 6,500 people were led out of Hall H by stormtroopers to a special fan concert in San Diego. John Williams sadly couldn’t be there, but there was a video message where he apologised – he does have a soundtrack to work on, after all. The cast were all on stage, everybody got given lightsabers, and it looked like a fantastic time.
Like I said earlier, you can tell that these guys care. We here at UTF are all cynical, jaded bastards but even this touched our hearts. These guys genuinely do care about their fanbase, and what better way to give back than to hold a free concert and give out lightsabers? You’d be hard-pressed to find another franchise that could pull off something like this, and it would be even more difficult to find a franchise that would. Even if The Force Awakens ends up disappointing, none of us are ever gonna forget about the love and care that J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and everybody else put in to making the movie and respecting the fanbase. After we’ve been fucked around so much for so long, it’s nice to get something back.
That is why Star Wars won Comic-Con.