There’s a lot to talk about in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser besides what some hoopleheads said on twitter about a black man having the audacity to appear in a moving image and frankly there’s a lot to chew on besides some manufactured controversies. That lightsaber, however, is worth discussing, which I’ll get to in good time.
The first shot in the teaser reminds me a lot of the opening shot of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly where there’s that beautiful wide of the desert and then guy pops up into frame. That shot from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is one of my favorite shots of all time, so being reminded of that and being introduced to the first piece of footage of the major black character in the new Star Wars got me started on an exciting foot for this teaser.
My reaction to the next image was that I honestly believed that the object I was seeing was a soccer ball. I thought for a second that perhaps FIFA had taken away either Russia and Qatar’s World Cup bid and moved it to Tatooine. I do sincerely hope that droid is actually meant to look like a soccer ball with a head on it, because it’s either that or I’m seeing soccer balls in places that I shouldn’t be. It even rolls like a soccer ball. I hope I’m not the only one to notice this.
In general I find it encouraging that things look used and slightly worn instead of sleek and computerized like in I-III. Tatooine (assuming it is Tatooine) actually looks lived-in. Even the simple fact that John Boyega is sweating in that opening shot-a real human trait, which is more than I can say was displayed in most of the prequel trilogy.
It feels good to see the landscape of Tatooine outside of the context of an incredibly boring “pod race.” That landspeeder looks like they took the body of the one from New Hope and flipped it sideways. Or in a way, it looks like the “motorbike” version of that same concept. Its also good to see X-Wings, TIE fighters, and the Millennium Falcon again in all their glory. The Millennium Falcon narrowly edges the TARDIS, the Next Generation Enterprise, and the Delorian as my favorite vessel in all of sci-fi, so just seeing it fly around was enough to give me chills. They knew what they were doing here.
There’s a rumor that Oscar Isaac’s character is in possession of the Millennium Falcon. If that turns out to be the case I’m extremely interested to find out how he got it (gets it?) and what it’s been doing those past thirty years. I also know nothing about Oscar Isaac’s character, so I’m doubly curious. On that note, I’m also really interested to see where the old characters are at this point in time. I keep wondering if they’ll actually play integral roles in the narrative or if they’ll just make brief cameos that don’t really amount to much besides getting the fans excited (or placating to them). I’m hoping they get the type of treatment that Leonard Nimoy got in JJ Abrams Star Trek, where they play an essential part in the plot while also paying tribute to their work in the old material.
As for that lightsaber, I’m not quite sure what the controversy is. First of all, I think it looks cool. It reminds me of a longsword that a medieval knight might carry, with those two prongs on the side of the handle serving as a cross-guard of sorts. Secondly, it’s not like this is the first time the lightsaber design has been messed with. Darth Maul had the double-saber type one in The Phantom Menace and I didn’t really have a problem with that one either. Despite the overall weakness of the film, I thought that design and the fight between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Maul were strong.
Even if lightsaber design hadn’t been messed with in the prequel trilogy, I don’t quite understand why it would be out of bounds to do so in this new iteration. Weapon design and function changes over time in our reality, so why wouldn’t the same apply in the Star Wars universe? Why should every lightsaber have to be the same? As a fan, if you don’t like the changes just go back to originals. To quote Jay-Z “…want my old shit, buy my old album.” Canon must always be respected within reason, but at the end of the day, these are new films-we have to let them stand on their own as well as along side the others. I’m saying JJ or anybody else has license to defecate all over the canon and do whatever he wants, but you have to allow him to make his Star Wars. That’s part of the risk and also part of the excitement of rebooting a franchise. If it sucks; it sucks, but if it’s good it’ll have to be good on its own and not as a mere imitation of the original trilogy.
Star Wars is in desperate need of a reboot. It needs fresh ideas and fresh voices. There have been several steps in what I perceive as the right direction. I don’t know if JJ Abrams and eventually Rian Johnson can do for Star Wars what Christopher Nolan did for Batman, but I hope they can bring the franchise back to a level of quality and prestige that the franchise and its fans deserve. Limited as it was, this teaser gave me renewed hope that I didn’t have previously. We have every right to expect this film to be good and every right to be disappointed if it’s not.
So, as nervous as I still am about this film, this teaser made me genuinely excited to meet new characters and engage with a new story. I’m also interested to see how all that fits into the original canon, how these new stories will further the saga in general. We knew the skeleton of the Anakin story, so this feeling is something new for me, having not been alive for the original release of any of the original three. I experienced the first trilogy all at once and at a very young age, so there was no waiting for the next installment over a number of years the way there will be now. However this new trilogy turns out in terms of quality, I hope I can maintain that curiosity and sense of anticipation.