‘Star Wars’ Out in Force at Comic Con

For a presentation that didn’t have a new trailer to debut and very little new footage to share, it’s kind of amazing that the Star Wars panel at this years San Diego Comic Con was able to satisfy even the most staunch and cynical fan (*raises hand*) that The Force Awakens was, in fact, going to be incredible.

Those who braved the astoundingly long line (or, those like me, who followed The Verge’s live blog and refreshed their Twitter feed like a compulsive maniac) were greeted by an ever-increasing roster of talent from both sides of the camera spanning the saga’s 38-year (and counting) legacy.

The underlying theme of their video presentation was two-fold. One, these were actual sets, practical effects, and a dirty, lived-in universe that made the classic trilogy so uniquely appealing. Two, everyone involved was not only coming from a place of pure, unadulterated fandom, but they were all having a genuinely wonderful time throughout the production. Harrison Ford even cracked a smile when taking the stage. Yes, THE Harrison Ford.

Given that we’re going to be completely saturated with tales from a galaxy far, far away, with a Star Wars film coming out annually and the problematic nature of that approach, it’s very encouraging to see this relaunch of the franchise begun such unadulterated enthusiasm from all those involved.

Those out in San Diego who actually braved the line were rewarded after the panel discussion to a live concert of the Star Wars score, and were escorted to their seats by a legion of Stormtroopers.

Goddamnit, J.J. Abrams may be well on his way to redeeming himself after ruining Star Trek.

Stray observations:

Producer Kathleen Kennedy made it a point to discuss that strong female characters were going to be a major part of the Star Wars universe. A necessary, and conspicuous, clarification, given the repeated criticism Disney has endured over their marketing to girls (and not just regarding Star Wars). Although seeing Leia dressed as a military commander, Daisy Ridley’s Rey in the gunner seat of the Millennium Falcon, and Game of Throne’s Gwendoline Christie as Chrometrooper Captain Phasma reassures this this statement.

During the Q&A, someone asked about the diversity of the cast, more specifically if there were plans to cast any actors of Asian descent. Abrams responded by explaining none of the characters were written with a specific ethnicity in mind, giving a generic and probably at least partially honest response of “We didn’t write the character of Finn to be any color. We didn’t write the character of Rey to be any color.” This was especially interesting when you consider that Boyega’s appearance in the first teaser for The Force Awakens caused quite a bit of an uproar with the franchise’s more close-minded fans.

There looks to be a hint of moral ambiguity, which would add a fantastic layer of depth to its two-dimensional good vs. evil narrative. Specifically, Adam Driver (who’s now confirmed to be the villain Kylo Ren, but was spotted on set months ago wearing an X-Wing pilot’s uniform) stated that there wasn’t a discussion about his character being good or evil, but by doing what one thinks is morally right, then “that’s almost even more evil.” Interesting.

Finally, JJ Abrams brought donuts to all the people waiting in line. He’s really atoning for Star Trek: Into Darkness.

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