The new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer premiered last night during halftime for Monday Night Football. The many of us who were only tuning into the game for the trailer kept our eyes on the game clock. As the second quarter’s clock ticked down, we found the proper station (ESPN—didn’t Monday Night Football used to be on network TV?) and waited, impatiently, for the trailer.
People are literally tackling each other on a grass field just to see the new Star Wars trailer. This madness has to stop.
— Matt Post (@MattPostSaysHi) October 20, 2015
When it aired, there was quiet for a few minutes. One cannot post and pay attention to the details.
Then we broke the Internet. Movie ticket sites, video streaming, fan sites, they all locked up.
The video hit a million views on Facebook alone in 20 minutes. It didn’t slow down, hitting two million views within 43 minutes.
Almost all of the reaction was positive. The highlight was Daisy Ridley, the young British actress playing the female lead, posting her trailer reaction video.
But the old fans, the original fans, we’ve been this excited then disappointed before. We are cautiously optimistic.
The trailer hit quite a few positive notes. It tied the original trilogy to this movie. We saw the wreckage of a star destroyer, Vader’s burned mask, the interior of the Millennium Falcon, and quite a few settings that looked familiar. Did we see Tantooine, Endor or Yavin, Hoth, and perhaps the lakes of Naboo? For sound, we had the voiceover from Han Solo, telling Rey, the brunette with the conspicuously missing last name, that all the stories about the Force were true while Han and Leia’s theme played. (One of the more popular fan theories holds that Rey is Leia and Han’s daughter, and this provided some confirmation.)
The trailer had a huge missing element, however: Luke Skywalker. He does not appear in the trailer. He is not on the poster. Even in the first trailer, he only appears as a voiceover, repeating what he told Leia in “Return of the Jedi.” I’m starting to wonder if he’s already dead and Mark Hamill was brought back to consult, throw the fans off the story, and perhaps to appear as a Luke ghost to Leia.
That is hard to say, because the trailer did not tease the story. J.J. Abrams has written something completely different than fans expected. The books of the Extended Universe, which had told the stories after “Return of the Jedi,” have been disavowed. In this blank slate, someone still commands Stormtroopers and TIE fighters even though the Rebels defeated the Emperor and Vader at the end of “Return of the Jedi.”
Even the title confuses. The force awakens—from what, exactly? In “Return of the Jedi,” Anakin and Luke Skywalker defeated the Dark Side, and we left Luke assuming that he would do what Yoda instructed—pass on what he learned. So what happened in the intervening 20 years that had Stormtroopers in power and Rey and Finn (also conspicuously lacking a last name) thinking that the Force was just a story?
The trailer tells us where we are now without even hinting at the story. That worries me. We older fans know from experience that the story might fail. Frankly, in Hollywood these days, story failure is the way to bet. But I miss good stories. So I hope.