(Note: There's discussion of the intervening thirty-five years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens below, which assumes that when Lucasfilm said they've dropped the Expanded Universe, they really meant it)
In all the excitement surrounding the release of the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer (and that was one hell of a burst of excitement), a whole lot of attention was given to the awesomeness of every single element of the thing, but not so much to what was lying underneath.
And, as it turns out, we might just have missed something pretty darned important. Specifically - just how much that one, less than two minute-long trailer has fundamentally altered the Star Wars universe forever - in several tiny, but significant, ways.
So, before we even get a chance to see the final movie, we now already know that...
The Empire Has Changed
Now, if there's one thing I've learned from Star Wars over the years, it's that when Stormtroopers' helmets change, it means something pretty significant. Either they're about to invade Hoth, or assault a whole bunch of Ewoks, or - in the prequels - suddenly become a giant clone army.
So, that complete overhaul of the helmet and suit design? That could just be a minor aesthetic change - but it's more likely to suggest that the Empire has fundamentally changed in the aftermath of the Emperor's death and the destruction of the Death Star Mk. II.
After all - in the now-defunct Expanded Universe, the victory of the Rebellion didn't automatically translate into the total defeat of the Empire - and that element seems set to become a part of full Star Wars canon.
The Rebellion May Not Have Changed as Much as You'd Think
Now, pretty much everyone has assumed that after the defeat of the Emperor, the Rebellion would have become the New Republic, and taken control of the galaxy in a similar fashion to the Expanded Universe (and the Old Republic of the prequel movies).
As many fans have pointed out, though, that new X-Wing pilot helmet - modernized as it is - lacks the stars surrounding the Rebel emblem that would mark it - in the EU at least - as the New Republic's symbol.
So, between the battling TIE Fighters, and the continued existence of a similarly outfitted rebel fleet, it seems that the Rebellion may not have changed as much as we might have expected.
Technology, Though, Has Moved On
Gone are the days of 20th century-looking Stormtrooper rifles - replaced by far more modern-looking, scoped, laser-blaster-type firearms.
Similarly, the beloved X-Wing has had a notable redesign - and a makeover...
Which suggests that the very '70s aesthetic of the original trilogy is long gone - and a much more modern (if still pretty darned gritty-looking) look has been adopted by both the filmmakers and the Star Wars galaxy's inhabitants.
Which, of course, you can also see in the Millennium Falcon's shiny new rectangular radar...
Either that, of Han bought some old, knock-off dish, and the Falcon's now actually less sophisticated than she was before...
For some planets, though, progress might well take on a very different form...
Tatooine Has Totally Changed
Or, at least, whichever desert planet Daisy Ridley's character lives on looks a whole lot more like a dystopian mining colony than Tatooine ever did.
The thing is, though - I'm willing to bet a whole load of credits that it is, in fact, Tatooine.
After all - that looks an awful lot like a Tusken Raider's staff attached to her speeder...
In which case, Tatooine looks to be a very different place from the one Luke left behind almost four decades earlier - especially if the rumors of Ridley living in an abandoned AT-AT are true. It sounds as though war - and possibly even Imperial occupation - has found its way to Tatooine.
Could the death of Jabba the Hutt at the end of RotJ have opened up a power vacuum, perhaps? One that was filled by a recovering element of the Empire?
Either that, or Tatooine was always just a planet of two halves - and we're finally going to see a very different side of it...
And, finally, of course, we have...
A Very Different Sith
Now, putting aside any speculation as to just who that Sith might be for a minute - take a look at the two lightsabers above.
Those are two very different laser-weapons, right there. The most intriguing part? The new 'saber looks a whole lot more rough-and-ready than any from the original or prequel movies.
Could this suggest a lightsaber built without the tutelage of another Sith? And, if so, would that mean that Star Wars' universe's 'Rule of Two' - which dictates that there'll always be two Sith lords at any one time - has been broken?
And, if so, does that legitimize theories that one of the movie's main characters will turn to the Dark Side before the end of Episode IX?
The big question, though: What do you guys think?
What change in the new Star Wars movie are you most excited for?
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