Star Wars Episode 7 is coming in three and a half months. If you’re like me, the first half of that sentence already makes you smile like a gleeful idiot. But then that second part, it’s coming so son, and that just makes you heart jump a beat. New Star Wars is coming guys, and it’s being done by people who know how to make good movies. Not that I’m saying the prequels were awful, but let’s just say that Lucas was given a little too much breathing room with those movies.
But man oh man is there a ton of Star Wars stuff happening. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything Star Wars related, but when I do, I always love to speculate. Like a drugged out cameraman staring at a rainbow, I always want to ask, “what does it mean?”
For that reason, if you’re one of those people who wants to avoid spoilers at all cost, don’t read any further. I’m serious. I will talk freely about rumors and potential spoilers and moderately confirmed spoilers like they’re common knowledge. Below, I will dissect the Star Wars Instagram teaser.
*********************WARNING: POSSIBLE RUMORS/SPOILERS BELOW************************
Okay, now that those people are gone, it’s just you and me. The true fans. The fans who can’t wait to consume everything Star Wars like it’s some sort of rare quantity that will slowly fade away over time. Star Wars is here, and it’s here to stay, but I’m still going to devour every morsel of information I can, because I love this stuff. And I believe that if my enjoyment of the story hinges on a spoiler, it’s not a good story. We’ve been watching Star Wars movies over and over again for decades now. There’s something lasting about the Star Wars story and its characters that makes it great, even if you already know that Luke, Leia, and Vader are all family.
With that said, let’s dive into the new stuff. In case you missed it, which is entirely possible if you don’t regularly follow Star Wars new sites, there was a new teaser trailer released. On Instagram. It’s more Vine-like in length, being about 15 seconds long and only showing 3 frames. Everyone freaked out about one of those frames, which I’ll talk about later. But I also dived into the other two largely ignored frames, trying to see if anyone missed anything.
Frame the First: The New Order
The Empire is not dead. It is still quite scary and large, in fact. In the foreground, we can see many of the figures that we got blurry far away glimpses of in the first trailer. We see some important figure in the front, probably Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux, Captain Phasma directly behind him, and then some currently unknown First Order officers and Stormtroopers. We don’t see anyone who looks overly alien or CGI’d enough to be Andy Serkus’ Supreme Leader Snokes, but that’s also because we don’t see Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren anywhere. This shot is probably related to the rumored Starkiller base.
But I don’t think this is a throwaway shot to emphasize that the New Order is still very much alive. We already saw this stuff in the original trailers. But what this shot does it show us a different perspective on the military of the New Order. When we saw a crowd-side view of this shot in the first trailer, we saw a scene that’s fairly reminiscent of the Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies.
That alone is enough to evoke terror for most people. Especially considering some that the voiced Hasbro toys coming out seem to be confirming that the Jedi purge is still actively enforced.
But with the new teaser, we get a different point of view. This is a shot from the point of view of the dias, looking out on the crowd below. The Nuremburg rallies were a collection of the entire Nazi party, military and civilians alike. With these images, J.J. is capturing a very different type of rally. What this immediately reminded me of was something like this.
This is an image from Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai. The design of the flags, their position within the army, it’s all very medieval Japan and Shogunish. But why should the Japanese military be evoked? Surely, the Nazi war machine was a more terrifying military power.
Well, I didn’t bring up Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai for no reason. You see, just as the Galactic Empire, aka Imperials, of Star Wars represented Western Imperialism through a critique of the Vietnam War, I feel like the New Order will represent Eastern Imperialism and the fall of the Shogunate. In the first movies, George modeled the Jedi heavily on Buddhist Monks, and included some eastern influences with the sword play. With The Force Awakens, I feel that J.J. is fleshing out that Eastern Influence even more, since without a strong legacy Jedi figure like Obi-Wan, the Buddhist philosophies that the Jedi Order was based on will have been watered down or straight up forgotten.
Within Japanese history, the threat of Western invasion forced the Japanese government to modernize with new weapons, new industry, and new tactics. However, the shoguns resisted the dissolution of their sovereignty and resisted the establishment of a central Federalist government. The resulting civil war ended with victory for the modernist Japanese Imperial government, and therefore the dissolving of the Shogunate and the Samurai class that protected it. This was the beginning of what many Japanese conservatives consider a disasterous loss of traditional culture and values. On the other side, it began a modernist revolution in Japan that brought them to become the international economic powerhouse that they are today.
With that in mind, the Jedi in The Force Awakens will probably represent the Samurai of the Shogunate in a post-Imperial Japan. They are a relic of the past and their existence impedes inevitable progress. The Resistance (aka Rebels), will probably represent the Shogunate attempting to fight against the better-funded and better-equipped modernist New Order. They will probably also evoke the cultural relevance of the Jedi/Samurai class through Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who appears to be involved with some sort of artifact preservation of archeological exploration.
Frame the Second: Rey and BB-8
Speaking of Daisy Ridley’s Rey, in the second frame, we get a shot of her and BB-8 on some sort of grassy terrain staring up at the sky at….something.
There’s not much to say about this scene, but there are a few minor details we can talk about. First of all, this is the first time we’ve seen Rey on a terrain that’s far more lush than the desert-ey Jakku that we’ve already seen. It’s not that like that’s a surprise though, we’ve already seen Poe Dameron flying around in a world much like this, so we can only assume that Rey and Finn will end up here, somehow. The terrain doesn’t really give away much about what’s happening here.
That said, I think this scene is here to give a sense of progression in the trailer. The first scene gives us a sense of despair, of the military and imperialist might that oppresses the weak. This scene gives us an exasperated Rey, looking into the sky, and seeing something that appears to catch her off guard. It’s hard to read Daisy Ridley’s face in this scene, because I feel like it cuts off before we see the full transition of her expression, but to me, it looks like whatever she’s looking at doesn’t make her face relax. She’s not relieved, but perhaps surprised, stunned, maybe even terrified.
For that reason, I dived deep into the imagery from the teaser, trying to figure out if I can find out anything about what this thing is that they’re terrified at. There are a couple of glints in both BB-8’s big ol’ eye and Daisy Ridley’s eye. Now, it’s entirely possible that the reflected objects are boom mikes and sound stage lights, but I would hope that the genius’ in ILM would be smart enough to edit the reflections in people’s eyes, especially on a scene like this that they are pushing out to the world.
That said, I’m not sure what to make of here. BB-8’s reflection is the clearer one of the two, because his eye is simply bigger. It looks like some sort of starship, but not one I’ve seen before. Perhaps it’s Kylo Ren’s starship. Maybe it’s a far off view of a Star Destroyer entering the atmosphere. I looked to see if anyone had done any digital reproductions of the shots or tried to dissect this in any way, and apparently I’m alone here. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at digital editing, so if you can find a way to clean this up, by all means, please do, and let me know.
Frame the Third: HOLY CRUD ITS FINN WITH A LIGHTSABER
So, this is the frame the freaked everyone out, and rightly so. Everyone assumed that Rey would be the one to wield the lightsaber of destiny, because you know, Finn’s black. There are no black Jedi in Star Wars, how the hell could one make a black Jedi with two white parents.
Let’s avoid the stupidity of that statement for a second. I still believe that Rey is some sort of force sensitive, and I still wonder that she might be the daughter of Leia. To be honest, with the costuming and make-up provided, she looks like a clear ringer for a hasher-featured Padme. I could be wrong, but they’ve been really deliberate about keeping both Finn and Rey’s last name a secret. J.J. even recently confirmed that, yes, there’s a reason they’re keeping their names a secret. Also, I don’t think she’s Luke’s kid, since all signs point to him running away into hermit-ness (like an old former Samurai sage perhaps?) immediately after Return of the Jedi.
That said, I think she’s become more susceptible to the New Order’s cultural propaganda than Finn, and perhaps her study of history and culture makes her innately aware of how stupidly powerful and terrifying the Old Republic Jedi were. All these things combine into someone who is massively intrigued by the legacy of the Jedi, but also terrified of it coming into reality. For that reason, she might try to avoid her own force sensitivity, even deny it.
That said, I’ve never been convinced that there would only be one Jedi in The Force Awakens. Supreme Leader Snokes’ quote that “there has been an awakening” doesn’t ring of “hey, there’s another Jedi running around.” An awakening is a revival. This awakening is both of the light and the dark. In this film, we’ll see a bit of the dark with Kylo Ren and Snokes. But I also think we’ll see an awakening of the light with both Finn and Rey.
So with that said, while it’s surprising to see Finn wielding Anakin’s lightsaber against Kylo of the Knights of Ren, it didn’t shock me like it did the rest of the internet. The funny thing is that as soon as that teaser launched, the entire internet rose to discredit the thought that Finn might be a Jedi, including images being shared of Han Solo splitting open a Tauntaun with a lightsaber. I don’t know about you, but Han looks a bit awkward wielding the lightsaber here, and it’s not exactly like he’s gripping it with both hands, ready to face Vader with it. I mean come on, people.
Are we so ready to discredit the first black Jedi as being simply a non-force sensitive idiot who thinks he’s good enough wielding a sword to take on the likes of Kylo Ren? For eff sake, this is supposed to be good story-telling, not “make the black guy an idiot so we can kill him off spectacularly.”
So who the heck is Finn? The fact is, we have no idea. His last name has been hidden per J.J.’s direction, so his family is presumably well known in the canon. Is he Lando’s kid? Mace Windu’s grandson? Did Luke hitch up with a black girl? Or is J.J. just trolling us? Regardless, there’s no way this kid doesn’t believe he’s force sensitive. He looks too angry, too driven, too ready to face Kylo Ren to be bluffing. Once again, maybe J.J.’s trolling us. But this teaser shows just how little we still know about these movies.