Ever since it was first announced that the Star Wars brand had been purchased by Disney, we’ve only been given minor breadcrumbs regarding what to expect from the future of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away. After months of searching, Lucasfilm defied the ongoing battle between Star Trek and Star Wars fans – by hiring J.J. Abrams as the director that would helm the yet-to-be-titled Star Wars: Episode 7. In the months since, we’ve had a look at the cast and heard unofficial rumors about the film’s storyline; yet, even though principle photography on the movie is now complete, we still only have vague ideas regarding what to expect.
However, now that filming is done, Lucasfilm and Abrams have shared one of the most anticipated elements of any in-development Star Wars production, the Episode 7 subtitle “The Force Awakens”. The official Star Wars site shared the news – coupled with a brief congratulations to the filmmaking team for finishing the principle photography stage.
Unfortunately, the title was the only new piece of information provided (since we already knew shooting had wrapped) – leaving fans, and industry insiders, to speculate on what exactly this title means in the grand scheme of things, especially given that Episode 7 is only Part 1 of a new trilogy and the first step in a six movie slate (that includes three spin-off films).
Nevertheless, prior Star Wars subtitles have always provided a solid launch point for debate – given that they are usually a relatively straightforward summary of the basic setup for each chapter:
- Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars – Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars – Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars – Episode 4: A New Hope
- Star Wars – Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars – Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars – Episode 7: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars – Episode 8: TBD
- Star Wars – Episode 9: TBD
Still, the notion that the Force “Awakens”, certainly seems to back-up prior reports that Jedi heroes and Sith Lords are no longer out in the open in this timeframe of the Star Wars galaxy – a story beat that has been somewhat explored already in the new animated series Star Wars: Rebels. Thanks to Rebels, we already know that Darth Vader was using a non-Sith warrior, known as The Inquisitor, to track and kill potential threats to the Dark Side – forcing any surviving members of the Jedi order (and others who are force sensitive) into hiding.
Several Episode 7 actors have already been rumored as the next generation of “Jedi Hunters” (specifically Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, and Lupita Nyong’o) – suggesting that after the fall of the Emperor, the Jedi have been laying low while these non-Sith mercenaries hold down the fort in the Sith’s absence. After all, the inciting event of The Force Awakens is rumored to center-on a search for Luke Skywalker – who has disappeared from the public eye. As a result, if the Dark Side has been defeated and the Light Side’s champion is a hermit, the Galaxy would be in a period where the Force is somewhat “dormant” – and Episode 7 might see the Force re-Awakening (reaffirming its influence on the surrounding people and events).
That said, the emphasis on “Awakens” also has several other possible meanings – should rumors turn out to be true. We assume that at least one of the main characters (played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley) will discover a sensitivity to the Force, which some could consider an “Awakening” to untapped powers. Other reports maintain that a villain from the past could also reappear (read: “Awakening” after decades). Then there’s the speculation that Max Von Sydow’s character is an “ancient” evil – one that could have, that’s right, “Awakened” at a time when the Dark Side was in need of a new Sith Lord – though more recent rumors about Sydow’s character seem to suggest otherwise.
For now, we’re left connecting a mix of official details and unofficial rumors but we’ll be sure to provide further updates as Lucasfilm prepares for the film’s launch – which is just over a year away.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015.
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