When Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hits theaters on December 18, two types of fans will show up. There will be the die-hard Star Wars adherents, who have followed the series since its 1977 debut — or caught up when they were old enough to begin watching — and never stopped tracking the ins and outs of the Star Wars universe. These fans, no doubt, have a hard-and-fast opinion about the worthiness of the prequel series of films, the last of which hit screens in 2005.
Then there are the fans who probably haven't really thought about Star Wars in decades, but are drawn back by the promise of its original stars returning to the franchise. It was announced back in 2014 that The Force Awakens would be set about 30 years after Return of the Jedi, meaning the aging faces of Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford would fit right in. Now, after a series of online teaser trailers, the film's first television trailer has been released. For those recovered fans, a refresher is almost a necessity, because that trailer implies a family relationship between Ford's Han Solo and the film's unknown protagonist, Rey, played by newcomer Daisy Ridley.
Fans of the 70s and 80s series learned a couple of key things: Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker were actually brother and sister (twins). Their father was Darth Vader, whose character was explored more fully in the prequels released between 1999 and 2005. In those films he was referred to as Anakin Skywalker, his name before turning over to the dark side. And of course, in the classics of the 70s and 80s, fans saw the long-running love affair of Leia and scruffy pilot Han Solo. When fans last left these characters in 1983, they were happy, free, and Leia and Han were in love.
So, did they have a daughter? And if so, why is she a scavenger who does everything for herself? During the Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at the Star Wars Celebration back in April, Entertainment Weekly quoted Ridley's description of her character.
"She is a scavenger in a ship graveyard. She's completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself, until she meets another character and an adventure begins."In the trailer, which Twitter helpfully tweeted out, the powers that be are trying to make a clear connection between Solo and Rey, at least according to one writer over at Vanity Fair.
The force is calling to you... Check out the first official TV spot for #StarWars #TheForceAwakens. https://t.co/tsKiEvZAK7But does it just stop with Rey being the offspring of Leia and Han? Us Weekly interviewed Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy last week, and she said twins "could" run in the Skywalker family. The question was raised in response to fan speculation that Rey and Kylo Ren, the new film's bad guy, might be twins.
— Twitter (@twitter) November 8, 2015
Kennedy also responded to whether fans should be concerned about Luke Skywalker. Although Hamill is in the cast of the new film, his once-heroic character has yet to be seen in any of the teasers, leading some fans to speculate that he's turned to the dark side. Kennedy was non-committal in her answer.
"I think it's always wise to be concerned about any of the characters in 'Star Wars,' right?"The Guardian reported last month that in 2005, Hamill said on a television show he'd like to come back as an evil Luke. J.J. Abrams, the writer/producer/director of The Force Awakens, appeared on that same program.
Fans who want to refresh their memories about the Star Wars franchise by watching the first six films can attend one of the several Star WarsMarathon events happening at AMC theaters in conjunction with the new movie's release. Those who want to just go in with the basics might find Star Wars: The Force Awakens equally enjoyable. Back in February 2014, Abrams told Paris Match he planned the new film to be more about emotion than explanation.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on December 18.
[Main photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment]