SPOILERS Star Wars – The Force Awakens Before & After SPOILERS

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS…!

The following are things I knew (or at least, thought I knew), about Star Wars: The Force Awakens prior to seeing the film. Basically I jotted them down ahead of seeing the film at 9.30pm, December 17th, here in Sydney.

How did I know them? A combination of rumour sites, officially released information and my own guesses as a long-term Star Wars fan.

Now, having seen the film, I can start to address the story and characters and comment on what actually happened. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did preparing it, and then seeing this wonderful film.

The film will start on Jakku. Finn will end up there after defecting from the Empire, and will meet Rey. Rey will be in possession of BB-8 (its owner?) Together, they will escape an attack by the Empire in the Millennium Falcon, but I’m unsure if Han and Chewie will be onboard at the time. Primarily due to the footage of Han coming onboard and mentioning they’re home. That would be an odd thing to say if they’ve been on the Falcon all along. Rey, Finn, Han, Chewbacca and BB-8 become a team.

REALITY: Pretty close! Finn does defect from the Empire; he does meet up with Rey and they do escape an attack on the Falcon prior to Han finding his old ship again. Rey was in possession of BB-8, but not really its owner. I also missed the whole Poe Dameron storyline, the meet-up with Lor San Tekka and the First Order’s destruction of the village that led to Finn’s defection which, in itself, was what saved Poe Dameron. All told, however, not bad! One thing I totally missed — and which I loved in the film — were the scenes where Han and Chewie are being chased down by “business associates” and it’s only through Rey’s accidental release of some scary alien monsters on their ship that helps them escape onto the Falcon. I really liked these scenes and more insight into Solo’s life as a smuggler; something that’s often referenced, but which we’ve barely ever seen him actually do in Star Wars.

I believe Lupita Nyong’o plays a pirate called Maz Kanata. I think Han will take the team there next; similar to when they ran from Hoth to Bespin in Empire Strikes Back. Whether things will go terribly wrong there is open to speculation, but I don’t think so; it’s too early in the film for that kind of thing. I think Maz will be an old pirate friend from Han’s scoundrel days and will be helping him in some way.

REALITY: Again, pretty close, but a lot more happened, too. The most notable being that Maz Kanata knew a lot about Jedi, the Force, Luke Skywalker, etc, and of course, also had his lightsaber. I also liked the design of Maz in general. Rey’s vision was really intriguing and the First Order attack really exciting. I liked how Han used Chewie’s bowcaster a few times (and a piece of dialogue about it along the lines of, “I like this!”), although part of me was desperately trying to remember whether in the Extended Universe (and older lore of Star Wars), that the bowcaster needed great (Wookiee) strength and skill to use? Ahhh well, a small quibble. The appearance of Leia after the attack (along with a beautiful version of her theme), was exceptional.

The action will move to the Rebel base where Leia is. Are Han and Leia still together? They might not be (chucking out years of Extended Universe). But they must have a reunion, as I’ve seen it in images. I think it’s here that they will learn of Starkiller Base and perhaps make a plan to attack it, similar to the Death Star attack in ANH.

REALITY: Well, not too bad. The whole Finn storyline of wanting to rescue Rey, after she was captured during the fight at Maz Kanata’s base is the bit I’m missing here. In general, however, it’s here that they witness the power of Starkiller Base and then have that bizarre meeting about how to destroy the threat where, it feels like, they cook up their attack plan in two minutes and then run off in all directions. Ahhh, modern film storytelling. Bless. And, of course, we get the confirmation here that Han and Leia still care for each other but are definitely not together any longer. He’s gone back to smuggling; she’s gone back/remained in a position of command. And it all seems to stem from their child going to the Dark Side and wrecking Luke’s Jedi academy. There’s a lot conveyed in a very small scene with them.

Starkiller Base has been spoken about a fair bit by JJ Abrams, and even appears on the movie poster, so I feel pretty comfortable in saying that it exists. It’s described as another Death Star, but more deadly than a Death Star. In that case, I presume if the Death Star could destroy a planet, this can destroy a system full of planets?

REALITY: Yup, nailed that. I think the way they showed it destroying an entire system was weirdly beautiful, but horrifying, too. A great moment in the film.

The Falcon crashes on Starkiller Base – partly due to rumour, and partly due to footage of the Falcon crashing that was in a trailer for the Japan market.

REALITY: Well, the Falcon certainly crash lands but the reason — approaching the planet at lightspeed — was a cool explanation why it happened. I had been wondering if they got shot down, or were doing some sort of suicide run, or maybe something else entirely? And it was the latter. A new concept in Star Wars, and something that highlights Han’s pilot skills.

This puts the team on foot, and in the forest where I think they get jumped by Kylo Ren. Cue the footage of Finn igniting his lightsaber to fight Kylo. As I don’t think either of them can die at this stage, the action must get interrupted somehow. My money is on Poe Dameron and the X-Wing squadron we’ve seen a bajillion times in the trailers, zooming in to save the day, possibly scattering/breaking the team up.

REALITY: Wheeeeee, I went right off the rails here. Some of these things happened, but not at this point in the film. Erm… let’s continue, eh?

I think the lighsaber duels will be more like the original trilogy – a time where the Jedi were all gone and Vader was a broken down old man – simply because the Jedi have been gone even longer and, if Luke’s missing and not in charge of a Jedi academy, or similar, then no one’s really learning any technique so that, even if they have lightsabers, they won’t be fighting with them like Old Republic Jedi and Sith.

REALITY: I think this was a fairly good assumption to have made. While Kylo has some skill, the fighting against Finn and Rey was quite scrappy. More visceral. More like the Original Trilogy. Infact, some of the moves Rey was making seemed totally from Luke’s Return of the Jedi playbook. It makes sense that Rey and Ren will acquire more skill over the next two movies, however, I hope the fighting still stays relatively “rough” because the prequel fights, IMHO, got a bit too over the top. That moment of “peacocking” (as a friend once put it), in Episode III, where Obi-Wan and Anakin just stand there, twirling sabers at each other and not actually fighting, was just ridiculous.

Han Solo will be killed by Kylo Ren during the Starkiller Base section of the movie, who is revealed to be his son. Partly through supposition by myself (the “Han dies” bit), in addition to rumours (that Kylo is his son). More in the Han section (below), but let me reiterate I’m not looking forward to it! Han Solo was my childhood hero!

REALITY: Well, it happened. Oddly, the way in which it was done was really good and, if Han had to die, was a true hero’s death… killed by his own son; stroking his face; then falling away into a mystical-looking abyss. In the end, I actually handled it better than I thought I would and I think it is largely to do with how they packaged it. Just on the “reveal” of Kylo being his son, this was done much earlier in the film, rather than being saved for this moment. And I think that makes perfect sense. It wasn’t a “dum dum dummmmmm” big reveal moment. It’s something Han’s known for 30-odd years.

Whether Starkiller Base will be taken out by the team on the ground, or from above (like Luke’s final shot on the Death Star), I don’t know. But presumably it gets destroyed and everyone escapes; the Falcon’s crash must not have damaged it too much. Who flies it away? I guess Rey and Chewbacca with Finn?

REALITY: Not much to add here. I liked the way the planet went dark after it had drained all of that sun’s energy and the lightsaber duel had some real atmosphere. Similarly, I liked Chewie arriving to save the day and Finn being placed in the medical bay where so many others have been before (eg: Luke at the end of Empire), and the escape from Starkiller Base in general.

Will there be a throne room or triumphant scene at the end, like ANH? Presumably there are heroes to reward, but also heroes to mourn, such as Han Solo. It would be weird if he wasn’t remembered in some way. This is possibly the moment Luke will come back into the film, making the audience sit up and instantly want to see Episode II because it will have a lot more Luke in it, like this one featured Han.

REALITY: Well, in the end it was kind of muted. In Episode IV, there was the scene where the heroes returned from destroying the Death Star and people clapping and cheering, followed by the throne room scene. Here we had the odd scene where Artoo deems himself ready to “wake up” and help BB-8 finish the Luke Skywalker map (why would anyone make that map if they wanted to be left alone?), and then people cheering the Millennium Falcon leaving… and that was it. Cut straight to Rey finding Luke Skywalker in Ireland… er, wherever he’s meant to be… and the end of the film. A good ending, but not quite what I was expecting, especially when so much of the film trod a path full of homages to earlier films, especially A New Hope.

And… that’s all, folks! Now onto the individual characters themselves.

Daisy Ridley as Rey
For almost as long as I’ve known a little about Rey, I’ve pondered why she’s seemingly alone on the desert planet of Jakku? And especially if she’s the offspring of either Han Solo or Luke Skywalker, how on Earth did she get left there to fend for herself when those guys are still around in the universe and capable of travelling there, anytime, to get her back? So maybe she’s not? Ugh. But if she IS a Solo or Skywalker, who’s her mother? Is she the off-spring of Han and Leia? Outside of that, the #1 thing on my mind is whether she’s a Jedi or not. Harrison Ford has certainly mentioned a Rey and Kylo Ren lightsaber duel, which suggests she might be a Jedi, or at least Force Sensitive at this point in time. Indeed, if she’s a Solo, and so is Kylo Ren, could it be a brother vs. sister fight? Could that become the theme over these three films? Sort of an expanded version of the Jacen and Jaina Solo story from the old EU novels?

REALITY: Well… even after the film ends, we still don’t know much about Rey. But what do we know? Well, she spends a lot of time with Han Solo and mentions Jakku to him and there’s no, “Hey, I left a baby daughter on Jakku…” from him. And she spends time with Leia, who is Force Sensitive, and she never gets an inkling that Rey is her daughter… so I think we can rule out Rey being a Solo and possibly Kylo Ren’s twin sister. But could she be a Skywalker? If Luke has potentially fathered a child without realising and the mother (and possibly a new father), have left Rey on Jakku for some reason, that could make sense. So could Luke knowing he has a daughter and willingly hiding her away on Jakku (much like he was hidden away on Tatooine), to be away from the trouble Kylo Ren was causing for him and his Jedi academy. That would make sense, too. I think we might get to learn a lot more in the second film, especially as Rey is now with Luke and, as they train, he might tell her more background. In general, I want to say I adored this character. I believed in her. The casting of Daisy Ridley is perfect.

John Boyega as Finn
A long time ago, when Finn was first unveiled, I remember someone saying, “I bet he’s Lando’s son!” and a bunch of people saying, “No way! That’s crazy!” but I thought, “Guys, this IS Star Wars… it’s all about parents and their children… and where things happen, seemingly by chance, but that are statistically quite impossible…” so I’ve always held out the idea – even though people recoil at the idea – that there’s a chance that Finn is actually Finn Calrissian. And who’s the mother? The most crazy suggestion I’ve seen is that his mother is Leia. Not only would that be a twist in the Han and Lando storyline, but could explain why Finn can use a lightsaber. Or is that misdirection in itself? There’s every chance that Rey is the actual Jedi, and seeing Finn using a lightsaber in images and clips is to hide that very fact. We shall see, eh? I also wonder if Finn was Leia’s or Lando’s, how on Earth would he end up in the First Order as a Stormtrooper and not living with them? Unless he’s undercover, perhaps?

REALITY: So it’s fair to say I was well off-base with regard to Finn! The whole concept of First Order troops being taken from their families at birth is a new twist as, during the period of the Empire, teenagers were signing up to go to Imperial Academies, rather than being taken at birth; it was only Jedi who took children at birth (or at a very young age). And heck, his name’s not even Finn, it’s just a nickname from Poe Dameron based on the start of his First Order ID which started with the letters ‘FN’. I guess there’s still a chance Fin could learn more about his family (perhaps from a First Order database?), but it would seem to be a fairly minor storyline to go chasing as he didn’t seem too interested or needing to know. I guess it could still become a theme, though? So, hey, let’s not fully rule out learning more about Finn’s parentage, and maybe getting a Billy Dee Williams cameo into the bargain, but I think the likelihood is pretty small with so much else going on.

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Poe’s a bit of a mystery. We see him getting tortured by Kylo Ren. Is that early in the film, or late? My guess is early and he either escapes with Finn or at least remembers Finn from his time in incarceration for some reason. We know he’s a hot-shot X-Wing pilot and must do some sort of big mission – probably towards the end of the film at Starkiller Base – but does he survive? Some rumours have suggested not, but my assumption is that Rey, Finn and Poe are the new Big Three, so I doubt he gets killed off in the first film. I think Lucas learned that lesson killing off Darth Maul too early.

REALITY: I really like Poe Dameron! My assumptions were pretty good too, especially with regard to the torture potentially leading to an escape with Finn, which happened. I liked the way in which he’s not only the best pilot in the Resistance, but also goes on undercover missions, too. He could be used in a James Bond kind of way in future episodes, rather than just being this guy who flies in to save the day while shouting something like, “Yeah!!! Come on!!!” in the next two films. I think there’s real potential for Finn, Rey and Poe to work together really closely on a mission. But maybe not until the third film if, you imagine, a good chunk of the second film is Rey training with Luke Skywalker and being away from the other two. Huge potential.

Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Truth be told, my #1 fear about this film, for well over a year has been, “Are they killing Han film?” Certainly there’s been rumours to that effect. There have even been jokes that Harrison Ford’s been the most comfortable he’s ever been with Star Wars (such as at the Celebration event or even the press tour for the film), because it’s his last hurrah. And, of course, as people are constantly pointing out, it’s what Harrison Ford wanted to happen in Return of the Jedi. But it’s a hard thing for me to accept because characters like Han Solo aren’t supposed to be killed off… are they? I get that he’s the grizzled veteran; the guy who brings all the young characters together… then dies. Much like Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan role in A New Hope. But that doesn’t mean I want it to happen! This is my childhood hero! But I’m resigned to it happening (even if part of me still wonders if his death is done in an ambiguous way, enabling him to return in the next film), because I guess these films are about change and we can’t really have Han, Luke and Leia hanging around forever. So, long story short, I’m prepared for what will happen as best as I can be. But I still don’t like the idea at all!

REALITY: And… it happened. I don’t know how other people are processing it, if they had no idea it was coming. I imagine it would have been shocking for them. I don’t actually know how I would have handled it, without the forewarning. As I said above in the section about the film, however, the way in which it was done was really good and, if Han had to die, was a true hero’s death… killed by his own son; stroking his face; then falling away into a mystical-looking abyss. In the end, I actually handled it better than I thought I would and I think it is largely to do with how they packaged it. Something else I thought about later on is the way in which Starkiller Base was comprehensively destroyed so that, not only was Han’s body immediately lost to Chewie and the team, but within an hour or so, the entire planet was destroyed and nothing would be left of Han at all. And you know what? Sitting here, a few days later, I’ve already come to accept that I’ve seen the end of Han Solo in terms of the ongoing story. What thrills me is that now there’s a start and end to the character, there’s potential for 30-odd years of Han Solo stories in books and comics that fall before The Force Awakens and have yet to be made, now that the Extended Universe stuff (where Han lived a much different life), is non-canon. We haven’t seen the last of Han Solo!

Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
You know, there are rumours that the, “Han Solo dies!” rumours are a smokescreen for the fact that Chewbacca dies instead in the film. Indeed, many people point to a scene in one of the many trailers where Daisy Ridley is crying, and they swear they can see fur and a bandolier, as if she is kneeling at Chewbacca’s corpse. But would they put that in the trailer if it was so obvious? Certainly, if Han goes, it might be good if Chewbacca goes down with him. Or vice versa. If it’s just Chewbacca who’s killed off, I believe I can live with that a lot easier than if it’s Han on his own. It will be sad, but not quite as sad. That said, because Wookiee’s are so long-lived and the role can be played by anyone tall, they might be looking to have Chewie continue with the new characters as he’s popular and it’s one of the OT characters who can do that quite believably in the lore, alongside the droids, of course. It’s a strong possibility.

REALITY: Chewie lives! And maybe it’s to keep him going as a friend and co-polit for Rey (which is already starting to happen by the end of the film), which would be a nice, continuing throwback to the original trilogy (and even the prequels where Chewie had a small part in Episode III). Something I have thought about Chewbacca since watching the movie is how he reacts to Han’s death. On one level, it’s mayhem. He goes nuts and starts blowing Stormtroopers away out of sheer anger. It’s what we fully expect from a Wookiee with a life debt to someone. On a deeper level, however, I also started to think that presumably, Chewie has helped care for Ben Solo as a child, and loved him as much as Han and Leia would have loved him. So for him to instantly take that shot at him after Han’s death (and he must have been quick, given that we’ve seen Kylo able to stop blaster bolts earlier in the film), speaks hugely to his grief. He’s not just shooting at a “bad guy”, but the little kid he used to care for and love. Some might speculate that the reason Kylo doesn’t end up with a smoking hole in his chest is possibly due to Chewie “pulling” his shot slightly because of their past connection.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
For the longest time, Kylo’s been promoted as a fanboy of Darth vader, going around, collecting artifacts relating to him. That would explain why he’s super keen to get the Anakin/Darth Vader Ep III lightsaber that Finn has. Rumours suggest he’s at odds with General Hux, which is an interesting dynamic. Even more interesting is the dual rumour that he’s the son of Han Solo (and brother of Rey, if they are twins), and ends up killing Han late in the movie. I would presume he survives the movie, because killing off the cool new villian that you’ve just made a bajillion actions figures of and promoted as the new Big Bad (like they did with Darth Maul in Episode I), is dumb.

REALITY: I really liked Kylo. Indeed, the casting of all the new characters was superb in this film. And why did I like him? Well, he’s a young and not quite fully trained guy, with obvious powers, but he can’t control himself. Straight out of the gate that is far more compelling to me than a moustache-twrling, “Mwahahahaha, I’m evil, me…” two dimensional cookie cutter villain. I also liked the way he can be masked and un-masked and seem like two different characters at times. Add to this the fact that there’s a dash of Jacen Solo in him (a character from the now non-canon Extended Universe who I thought was really interesting after he became Darth Caedus), and I’m super-happy with him. I liked the way in one of his earliest scenes (talking to Darth Vader’s helmet no less), he confesses to his struggle with the light. This isn’t a character whom will be evil-evil-evil for 2.75 of the three films and then turn good after someone makes a single, impassioned speech. I think he’s being set up for a flip-flopping struggle with the light where presumably he’ll be good in the end (this IS Star Wars, people), but it will seem far more realistic than something like Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side in Episode III which happened, unconvincingly, in the space of a few minutes. Something else I really liked about Kylo was the way he was bleeding and pounding on his leg (presumably to keep it awake), during his fight with Rey. It made him feel human and beatable and was in keeping with the way he’s presented as imperfect and not an indestructible character, right from the start. Finally, something else I really liked is that with Ren taking his helmet off all the time, it will finally put to rest all these bizarre articles in newspapers and online that Kylo Ren was Luke Skywalker, turned to the Dark Side. I’ve spent the past year saying NO NO NO NO NO and pointing people to the fact Adam Driver was cast in the role and even a publicity shot that showed Driver without the mask… and yet the rumours and articles persisted. Thankfully they can all be put to rest at this point in time. Strangest rumour ever.

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma
A bit of a mystery packet. It’s Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones in chrome armour. With a blaster. So is she an offsider of Kylo, or the bodyguard of someone like General Hux? If Hux and Kylo are at odds, does she scrap with Kylo at some point? Very little is known about her; not even if she takes her helmet off in the film. I wonder if she’ll be a Boba Fett sort of character, ie: does very little in the film and says even less, but becomes insanely popular with fans? We’ll have to wait and see.

REALITY: Well… what a let down, honestly. The character’s been pumped up and up and up over the past year and, in the end, she did next to nothing. I was still expecting big things as recently as the LA red carpet for the film where Christie was asked about her and said, “You don’t become a Captain for nothing…” So I guess she’s been given more background on the character than we get as viewers because, on-screen, she got to discipline Finn, then got made to bring down Starkiller Base’s shields and… that’s pretty much all I can remember her doing. She DID keep her helmet on, as I was pondering, which I actually liked. Reminded me of Karl Urban keeping his helmet on for the entirety of Dredd. There are some characters who just do that kind of thing. All told, however, a real fizzer of a character. Hopefully she gets more to do in the next instalment because this was a non-event.

Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
He’s blonde; he’s got the Nazi-like Imperial uniform on. I presume he’s in charge of something like a Star Destroyer or Starkiller Base itself. If the base is destroyed, will he go with it? Similar to Grand Moff Tarkin in ANH? Like killing off Darth Maul in Episode I, there might be a school of thought that tells the production team not to invent new characters and kill them right away; because you just have to go and invent new characters. Build up some history; build up some animosity between the goodies and the baddies. That’s hard to do if they disappear after one film!

REALITY: Thankfully Hux got to do more than Captain Phasma in the film… but it wasn’t a lot more. Aside from barking a few commands and some hologramatic conversations with Supreme Leader Snoke, Hux’s only real contribution was addressing what people are calling a Nuremberg style rally, and I can certainly see the parallels. He was even working himself up into a frenzy, like a sort of Hitler character, which was the most passion he showed all film. In all, I don’t know if I enjoyed the character or not. He was there to move parts of the plot along and is clearly important in the First Order but… I dunno… he just didn’t grab the role and do anything with it that made me think “wow”. The writing for him was a bit two-dimensional, I think.

Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
There were some scans online (presumably from a “making of” reference book that had yet to be released), which showed some examples of what Snoke might look like. To me, he seems to be another pale, deformed, Emperor type figure… who is in the role of the Emperor in this film. Although a lot of things will be, or seem to be, homages to the old films, this one seems to be pushing it just a wee bit too far. Does the leader of the new Empire (or the First Order), really have to be Palpatine-esque?

REALITY: An interesting start for this character, via the way he only appears as a hologram (and a giant hologram at that!) for the entire film, similar to how the Emperor appeared in Empire as a giant hologram before we saw him properly in Return of the Jedi. His look still bothered me a bit… he looks like the Dad of Harry Potter’s Voldemort character… and I kept thinking, “You guys could have done something different here…” but nevermind. I think we’ll see him in person next film as he wants Kylo Ren to train with him and, presumably, there will be some sort of parallel between Ren training with him and Rey training with Luke Skywalker. There’s so much more to learn about him in general, too. For example, was he mates with Palpatine? Were they close enough that what he’s doing now with the First Order still has an echo of Palpatine in it, or was he some backwater governor, or similar, who had nothing to do with Palpatine and has simply seized an opportunity?

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
As I mentioned in my opening remarks, I think Luke Skywalker might only appear at the end of the film. Either to join in a final battle or, perhaps even more likely, at a victory celebration where Han is also being mourned. I haven’t really understood the extreme secrecy around Luke’s role in the film. I suppose the makers don’t want people to see him on the poster and assume he’s a big part of the film if, in reality, he only appears for a few minutes on screen. This could also explain why there were pictures of him in a traditional Jedi sort of outfit on the Internet well before the film arrived (mostly brown, although it had some interesting white accents), and they were shut down quite quickly. To me, it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal – we all expect him in Jedi robes, don’t we? – but to others, maybe it’s massive news.

REALITY: As expected, Luke only appeared at the end of the film. He didn’t even speak, which was the bigger surprise for me. What a tease you are, JJ Abrams! But of course, this means the film was entirely Han’s (when it comes to the original trilogy characters), without any distraction from Luke, and it means the next film will, presumably, be Luke’s. Does that mean he takes a step back (or even gets killed off) in the second instalment, leaving the new characters to make their own way, at last, in the third instalment? I’m thinking so at this point in time because I don’t think Leia is big enough (or interesting enough), to get a large role come the third film, if we were originally assuming that each of the original three characters would get a film each to have a starring role. But getting back to Luke… I thought he looked really good. Very Alec Guinness, which is the whole point, I think. And I’m intrigued as to why/how he’s decided to go with his robotic looking hand, rather than having the synth-flesh covering on it? I know it got damaged in Return of the Jedi, so maybe he ended up peeling it all off and never fixing afterward? I wonder if there’s any symbolism in him doing that?

Carrie Fisher as Leia
The biggest rumour about Leia so far is that she’s no longer called Princess, and is something like General Organa (General Leia would sound weird). She seems to have remained in the Rebellion/Resistance all along. And maybe this has caused a split from Han; if they ever got married in the first place, that is. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot about her, really. Does she just co-ordinate from their base?

REALITY: Erm… yep. That’s pretty much it. There’s not a lot more to say, sadly. Presumably she’ll reunite with Luke in the next film or the one after it, as it would be a crime to not see the twins together again, but like I was saying in the section about Luke, I don’t see many/any chances for her to really do much in the next two films, especially with the newer characters having an increasingly starring role in the next two films than this one.

Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
An evergreen character who can be in every Star Wars movie from now until the end of time; probably the most imteresting news about him in this film was that he had a red arm. This was first uncovered on a website where they’d spotted a piece of Star Wars merchandise showing that he had a red arm. OMG, why does he have a red arm? People went into speculation overdrive. To me, it seemed quite simple; that he’d lost an arm somewhere and the replacement had come from a red droid. Pretty simple. So simple it might not even be addressed in the film; simply a way of showing the galaxy (or at least where he is), is having a tough time, and maybe low on new droid parts, making recycling essential. Not a very interesting rumour, really!

REALITY: Closer to the truth than I could have imagined. While there was a cheeky remark about him having a red arm, like I speculated, it wasn’t explained at all. A tiny role, all told. He might adventure with one (or more) of the new lead characters in the upcoming films. Or just stay with Leia?

Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Like Threepio, an evergreen character who can be in every Star Wars movie from now until the end of time. Also like Threepio, there’s very little known about R2 in the film, aside from the fact X-Wings now seem to use the BB-8 style “ball droids”, so he might not be riding shotgun in a fighter any more – unless Luke still gets around in an older model. So maybe he’s with Luke? If not with Luke, maybe hanging out with Leia?

REALITY: The whole backstory here, with Artoo in low-power mode, was interesting, although a bit weird when you think about it. Are we to believe that the Resistance could be having moments of crisis at various times since Luke’s disappearance and Artoo’s all, “Yeah, not helping you guys… staying in low power mode, me…”? Like Threepio, I wonder if the next episode will see him getting out and about with some of the new heroes? I also think I saw some traditional R2 units in some of the X-Wings, so maybe the ball droids haven’t fully replaced the R2 units in the universe yet? No idea.

Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka
I was excited to hear that “Ming the Merciless” would be in the film, however, it seems to only be a small role. And that’s understandable, Max is well into his 80s now, I believe. In some ways, I think that continues the Star Wars tradition of having great older actors in the cast, like Cushing, Guinness, Lee and so on. In terms of his role, I think he’s in the Jakku section of the film. A mentor for Rey? No idea what he plays.

REALITY: Well, I was right about it being a small role… it was tiny. And then he got killed off! The character was interesting, however, in the way that he had the Luke Skywalker map, and knew who Kylo Ren really was… I think there’s scope for this character to end up in novels and comics that are set before the film. I think he obviously has some ties and knowledge that would play an important part in the grand scheme of things. Why he’s tucked away on Jakku at the time of this film, however, is another mystery. Intriguing!

Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Forget the droids, forget Max von Sydow… this is a character played by a well-known actress, but whom little is known about. As mentioned earlier, I believe she’s an old pirate friend of Han Solo’s. Some suggest the female voice in trailers, talking about the Force, is her. so if she giving that advice to Finn or Rey? I think it’s Rey.

REALITY: Boom! Nailed it. An old pirate mate of Han’s who gave Force advice to Rey. The surprise here was what Maz looked like. In the days prior to the film I learned that Lupita Nyong’o was playing a CG character, rather than “herself”, but the character’s look ended up surprising me. Funnily enough, she’s on the film poster but I never analysed it all that closely. Yes, I know that makes no sense when you think of all the spoilers I went out of my way to find… but there you go. I can’t recall if we saw Maz killed on-screen (there was a lot going on during the attack), or whether it was just implied with her castle being smashed to pieces. So will she appear again? I hope so.

And for my final thoughts, now that I’ve done this whole process:

As you can see, I followed Episode VII pretty obsessively. My wife is still surprised how, the night before, I rattled off what I thought the script and the flow of the movie would be… and it was largely right. I remember doing the same with Episode I — even reading the novel (which was released early), before I went and saw the film. I think, in both cases, it was because it was the first new Star Wars in a long time and I just couldn’t help myself. And while I didn’t feel spoiled by doing this sort of thing on either occasion (yes, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true), I think when we get to the next movie in May 2017, I won’t have done anything like this level of spoiler-chasing. Now that the first film is out, and the universe has been set up, and the edge has been taken off… I can relax a lot more when it comes to the next two.

Hope you enjoyed this (if you made it this far). May the Force be with you!