The Force Awakens: “Countdown to Release” Trailer Lineup

Having begun to write this on November 9th, 2015, I intend to post this a week or so before The Force Awakens actually launches, in order to include every piece of released footage that we will get before hand. Because it’s clear to me now that Lucasfilm is intentionally releasing fresh, brand-new footage every time a new trailer or promotional spot is premiered, despite what everyone thought they would do. And personally, I think it’s great.

For me, it’s been really eye-opening to get all of this different footage from the film because each time we see something new, it informs me about the look, the design, the pacing, the tone, and the style of this film. It helps to see it all because I want to go into this film feeling the most confident and the most excited about it, and actually seeing less footage may have left me feeling unsure and uncertain. Plenty of people thought all they needed to do was put out the first teaser. Still others thought they didn’t even need a trailer at all: just knowing a new Star Wars was coming would be enough. But I think in order to guide the fan reactions as best as possible, releasing trailers and new information as they have allows for a lot of speculation early on, and then more reasonable speculation closer to release, which keeps the fans excited, but not so excited that they geek themselves into misjudging and even disliking the film because of some ill-conceived theory they may now have.

There are still some theories out there that are changing perceptions of the film in a potentially negative way. People think Luke Skywalker could have turned to the dark side and this new trilogy will be his redemption. People think Jar Jar Binks could be Supreme Leader Snoke and has actually been a Sith Lord the whole time. Some people even thought that Luke could be Kylo Ren (which personally makes no damn sense. Adam Driver is clearly in the promotional photos with his helmet off). But while there is plenty to speculate about, I’d rather not speculate too much. Because when I saw the full official trailer from Monday Night Football, I was initially disappointed.

I had convinced myself that the film would be something different than it was, and that foolishly ruined my first experience of it. I have now made a completely 180 on my perception of that trailer. But I don’t think I would have made a full recovery from that (don’t worry, it’s not that serious…) negative reaction if the International Trailer had not launched as well: providing us with companion footage that looks so good, they really should have tried to fit it into the main US trailer. The artistry and shot design in this new Star Wars is going to be phenomenal. Far beyond the stuff “sci-fi/fantasy” has been known for in the past 3 decades. I have yet to see a film that fully captures that aesthetic of 1970s and 1980s fantasy artwork on film as well as I think this one might. Big epic landscapes filled with tiny lone figures basking in the immensity of it all. You’ve seen them, right? They’re all over Deviantart.

So in order to keep at least some of you up to speed on what we know so far, and what we have as far as official footage from the film itself: here is a list of all of the trailers, promotional videos, TV-spots, and whatever else that has been released, all the way up to the premiere of the film on December 14th, and the World-wide release on the eve of December 17th and 18th. Enjoy.

Star Wars: A Force For Change – Released May 21st, 2014

Info Breakdown:

  • Desert bazaar location.
  • Alien characters are rendered with puppetry and animatronics, rather than entirely with CGI.
  • We have a puppeteered character who may be seen in a significant scene in the film.

Teaser Trailers and Sizzle Reels •••

The 1st Teaser Trailer – Released November 28th, 2014

Info Breakdown:

  • Voice-over is from an important character. (we now know this is the voice of Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis)
  • John Boyega is in a Storm-Trooper outfit, and finds himself on a desert planet.
  • Brand-new Storm Troopers with sleek new armor design are descending into a war zone.
  • Daisy Ridly’s Rey has a unique form of transportation.
  • The X-wings are back, and can fly near a planet’s surface.
  • Someone has a really jacked-up dangerous light-saber with wrist guards.
  • The Millennium Falcon and the TIE-Fighters are back! And they have dog-fights on the planet’s surface.
The 2nd Teaser Trailer – Released April 16th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • There’s a star-destroyer and an X-wing in the dirt, presumably after a large scale battle over this planet (now known as Jakku).
  • Voice-over is of Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi (Now known to be a mixture of 1982 dialogue, and re-recorded dialogue from 2014, so that young Luke and old Luke can speak the same words, foreshadowing his return in this new film, and bridging the 31 year gap in time)
  • Someone has found Darth Vader’s helmet from back on the moon of Endor, after his funeral pyre.
  • That might be Luke grasping R2-D2 (the world is 50/50 on whether that’s true or not)
  • Someone hands Leia Luke’s old light-saber (still no idea how it was retrieved from Bespin when it fell into the gas cloud)
  • Luke’s voice-over is referring to someone in this new film having the power of the Force inside of them, and also that very likely, this person is related to Luke in some way.
  • The Empire is back in full-force as the First-Order.
  • Han Solo and Chewie have returned.
The Force Awakens: Comic-Con Reel – Released July 10th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • Someone has captured Poe Dameron on-board a new Star Destroyer, and is taking him to a holding cell or an interrogation room.
  • Just like all of his other films, J. J. Abrams is once again shooting this movie on actual celluloid film, unlike George Lucas, who ushered in the new digital age by shooting Attack of the Clones on an all-digital HD tape format.
  • Simon Pegg is definitely playing some character in the film.
  • Peter Mayhew will indeed be inside the Chewbacca suit some of the time, despite his age and diminished health (which is so amazing).
  • More confirmation that many alien creatures will exist as fully puppeteered characters rather than digital inserts.
  • The Rebel Alliance lives on as The Resistance.
  • C3PO has a red replacement arm
  • Warwick Davis could be back as a minor character as well, just like he was in The Phantom Menace.

Tiny Teasers for the Full-Length Trailer •••

Full-Length Trailer: Teaser #1 – Released October 18th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • Poe Dameron is realizing something bad is coming in the distance. He is either at a Resistence base or some sort of camp. This could be the village that is burned when the First Order arrives with Phasma and Kylo Ren, and Poe is keeping watch before the place is ambushed.
Full-Length Trailer: Teaser #2 – Released October 18th, 2015
Full-Length Trailer: Teaser #3 – Released October 18th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • The Resistance is gearing up for an big outer-space assault of some kind.
  • Poe and Finn may have some minor history together, or this is after they’ve already become chummy.
Full-Length Trailer: Teaser #4 – Released October 18th, 2015

Full-Length Trailers •••

The Official Full-Length (US) Trailer – Released October 19th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • Rey is a scavenger, and possibly a tinker/junker/maker of sorts.
  • Voice-over is clearly of Lupita Nuongo’s character, Maz Kanata (We now know she is a prominent figure amongst a band of space pirates. Rather a short creature. Wears goggles all the time. And will be a fully CGI motion-capture character).
  • Finn could be a storm-trooper who decides he can’t follow orders anymore because of his morals, and mounts an escape by hijacking a Tie-fighter. However, it’s been hard to tell, because once he crash-lands on Jakku, he already has a Resistance jacket with him. Maybe it’s Poe’s, or maybe it’s someone else’s that he picked up. (Based on recent interviews, he is most likely a converted Storm Trooper who lost faith in the First Order and what he has been taught to believe through them)
  • Kylo Ren is a fanatic, a religious follower of the exploits of Darth Vader. And clearly if he can track down and retrieve his broken and charred helmet after 30 years of Endor weather (among other possible things that could have happened to the remaining armor pieces), then he is capable of doing a great many daring and risky things.
  • Nazi symbolism is in stronger form here, including in what Kylo Ren is doing with Vader relics. Because the Nazis, just like in Indiana Jones, really were seeking out religious artifacts as sort of a superstitious but potentially lucrative way to gain supernatural powers and advantages over the other major powers during World War II. It never amounted to anything, but they certainly tried to track these relics down. It seems in Kylo’s case, however, he has actually been successful in retrieving Vader’s possessions.
  • There is a temple that Han Solo takes Rey and Finn to. This temple could be an old Jedi Temple (which we thought at first). But then it was made clear that it is the place where we meet a band of Pirates, and either their leader, or their wisest member, Maz Kanata.
  • The temple, whatever it actually is, has a bunch of flags strung up in it’s courtyard, most of which are actually the flags we saw carried out across the race track on Tatooine, when Anakin entered in the Pod-race in The Phantom Menace. His racer flag is actually up there.
  • Light-speed looks the same as ever, but slicker, and far more dynamic.
The Official Full-Length (Japanese/Int) Trailer – Released November 6th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • This new film will greatly call back to classic shots from the original films, and will also expand on them, trying to top them and make them even more beautiful.
  • It is likely that Rey and Finn discover the Millennium Falcon before they are properly introduced to Han Solo. Perhaps Han finds the ship after they deal with the TIE-fighters and land it back on Earth. Or maybe they inadvertantly steal the ship from him. Han does say “We’re Home.” So more than likely Rey and Finn find it by accident (or because Rey noticed it in the wreckage before), they fly it around, they deal with the fighters, they land it back on Jakku. And then without warning, Han and Chewie hop on board, wondering how in the heck it found it’s way back on to solid ground, seemingly out the blue.
  • The Starkiller base if most definitely the Ice Planet that we see in bits and pieces from other trailers. There is a clearly defined trench in the distance of one of the last shots here, which echo’s the Death Star trench. Looks like we got another Super Weapon folks. (still not sure how the Empire or the First Order has enough man power, materials, or years amongst all of their people to construct such massive planet sized structures. But… okay.)

TV-Spots •••

Official TV-Spot #1 – Released November 8th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • Maz Kanata speaks again, this time about seeing “the same eyes in different people.”
    • This could either mean that she sees the same blood lines or the same genetic traits across generations in the people that she meets.
    • But more likely she means it in a more general and philosophical sense, where she can see the same spirit of will, or the same sense of duty, or the same lust for adventure, or the same sadness and guilt, through the eyes of different people. She can see the same triumphs and struggles between different people, and thus she is able to get a better sense of who people are just by looking into their eyes.
  • This Starkiller Base is looking even more like the unfinished Death Star from Return of the Jedi, due to it’s tiered and bumpy surface, different objects jutting out from it, and perhaps some rough and incomplete portions.
  • It looks like Rey will be the primary pilot of the Falcon during the film, or will be more highlighted as the pilot rather than Han.
Official TV-Spot #2 – Released on ABC November 12th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • The interior of Star Destroyers and First Order architecture is very sleek, somewhat brighter, but also darker and bleaker at the same time.
  • Everybody will at some point meet up with General Leia at a central command base, where they will have the same tactical readout tables and upright trajectory screens that they had in all three original films.
Behind the Scenes Video (Disney UK) – Released officially online November 13th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • It has apparently been confirmed that Finn is indeed a rogue Storm Trooper, and not a Rebel spy who found himself wearing a Trooper outfit. Although his introduction to Poe Dameron was likely up on that Destroyer, because he is likely the Trooper that escorts him forcefully down that corridor from the Comic-Con Reel.
Official TV-Spot #3 – Released November 14th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • The First Order is likely on Han, Rey, and Finn’s tail the entire time. Which is why where-ever they go, the First Order follows, and blows stuff up. So once they meet the Pirates, the TIE-fighters come in soon after, and destroy the temple. There’s even a LEGO set dedicated to this destruction. lol
Official TV-Spot #4 – Released November 18, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • The colors and cinematography, especially for interiors, is going to be insanely good. The amount of depth and the mixtures of colors that you can get these days on movie sets is beyond anything you would have seen just a decade ago. So it will take a lot to rival this film’s cinematic quality.
  • The Storm Troopers have a defensive weapon now that can directly combat Light-Sabers. Although I doubt they’re primarily used for that, since Jedis and their Sabers wouldn’t have returned save for Luke all those years back.
    • These plasma conduit clubs (that’s a name I came up with for them), are very similiar to the purple staffs held by guardsman of General Grievous.
Official TV-Spot #5 – Released November 22, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • Nien Nunb is back, as well as his original Voice Actor. And he’s an X-wing pilot now. Who knew?
Official TV-Spot #6 – Released November 22, 2015
Official TV-Spot #7 – Released November 26, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • The red glow in the image of the First Order, if you look carefully enough, is caused by an ENORMOUS pulsating beam of red energy, likely coming from that large circular orifice seen on the side of Starkiller Base. So this is likely the pivotal moment, just like in A New Hope, where they test out their new ultimate weapon on an unsuspecting world, star, or something else.
  • Just like I recently saw in the Gendy Tartakovsky Clone Wars mini-series, the Force is capable of knocking people unconscious if manipulated the right way.
  • Some have speculated recently from these shots of Kylo and some other dudes standing in a rain storm, that the figures on the ground behind them are dead Ewoks. This would make reasonable sense, because I imagine that whether or not Vader’s body was buried or left to sit outside in the elements, the funeral pyre was inside the Ewok village. So if Kylo wants to find Vader’s helmet, then he would end up taking down a group of Ewoks, whether it was necessary or not.
    • Still no idea how he figures out where Vader’s helmet is. Maybe he can sense the residual Force off of the helmet, thus taking him to it. Because otherwise, no one would have known what happened to him. No one bothered to notice that Luke was taking Vader off the Death Star before it blew up. No one knew that he died and that Luke burned his corpse. Or… then again, maybe somebody did see this happening, and they escaped before the Station blew as well. And then Kylo Ren met with them, learned this information, and acted upon it. And honestly, that would be cooler than “he just sensed with the Force where it was.” So we shall have to see.
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette from Comic-Con Brazil! – Released December 5, 2015
Behind the Scenes (TV) Featurette “Destiny” – Released December 7th, 2015
Official TV Spot #8 – Released by Verizon on December 8th, 2015
Official TV Spot #9 (mini) – Released December 8th, 2015
Official TV-Spot #10 – Released December 8th, 2015
Official Chinese Full-Length Trailer – Released December 10th, 2015

Info Breakdown:

  • Our first glimpse of Solo actually flying the Falcon again. And saying one of his typical lines of encouragement towards it.
  • Multiple shots that cut out early before in previous trailers now cut out a little later, revealing just a few extra frames of awesome.
  • We now get the full shot of X-wings flying past the planetary ring of asteroids, which we only got a few frames of previously.
  • Some new shots from inside the Star Destroyers at the beginning of the film, before Finn steals the TIE-fighter.
  • The Falcon crashing into the snow… BEST SHOT EVER!

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