Star Wars: The Force Awakens is barely a month away and just recently, the sixty second TV spot was released, prompting fans to spend yet another day analysing all the new footage. For the most part, it was stuff we've already seen, with a heavy focus on our two protagonists, Rey and Finn. If you haven't seen it yet, you can check it out below!
Pretty awesome, right?
So aside from the new music, a wise-cracking Han Solo and a brief glimpse of everyone's favorite Mon Calamari, Admiral Ackbar, one scene stood out for several fans. At around 0:49, look out for Finn taking a swing at a First Order Stormtrooper. Take a closer look and you'll realize that the trooper was also wielding a lightsaber-like weapon. Immediately, the internet exploded as this confirmed the earlier theories that Finn had learned his saber skills as a former trooper. However, despite the excitement, the idea of a Stormtrooper wielding a lightsaber or vibroblade is far from new. In fact, it predates the entire Star Wars saga.
Before Star Wars was first released back in 1977, George Lucas hired artist Ralph McQuarrie to envision his masterpiece. The results have become just as iconic as the movies themselves, with the above image of an early Luke and Vader duel being the most well known.
JJ Abrams seems to have recognized their relevance to the saga, and as a result, has based several ideas for The Force Awakens on this iconic artwork.
1. Stormtroopers with lightsabers
It seems JJ has finally taken the hint and realized Stormtroopers are nothing short of appalling when it comes to blasters. The new trailer shows off their new weaponry, inspired by one of McQuarrie's earliest pieces. Behind the leader, they're also seen with shields and slightly more high-tech armor.
As a cool bonus, this piece also features the original hero, Annikin Starkiller, along with his aging mentor, Luke Skywalker, and a very early concept of Chewbacca, which later went on to become Zeb in Star Wars: Rebels. Much like the new movie, the show takes a lot from these original images.
2. Kylo Ren's mask
While McQuarrie's original vision of Darth Vader's helmet is still definitely Darth Vader, you can't help but notice subtle hints that Kylo Ren also took from this. From the shorter back to the more angular face, this early concept reeks of Ren.
The helmet was also meant to be removable at this stage, with Vader being just evil rather than disfigured. From what we've seen, this also resonates with Kylo Ren, who doesn't appear to rely on his helmet to survive.
3. Desert architecture
To anyone that's seen the SDCC Behind the Scenes reel or any of the leaked set photos, that archway is quite familiar. A similar structure can be seen at the entrance to Rey's local village on Jakku. In reality, this is McQuarrie's original representation of Jabba's Palace, seen in Return of the Jedi. While the idea was originally scrapped in favor of the ominous black door we eventually saw, this fancy structure is finally seeing new life in the sequel trilogy.
The piece also appears to be an inspiration for Maz Kanata's palace, which has been seen in set photos revealed at SDCC. The small groups of aliens dotted around the landscape are reminiscient of these images, which also based themselves on the interior of Jabba's Palace.
4. Desert Architecture Again
This early impression of a Jawa camp was never properly used as it was later decided that Jawas existed solely within their Sandcrawlers. However, the idea seems to have reappeared in the form of Rey's village, which consists predominantly of tents and engine parts scattered across the desert landscape.
This concept art shows the settlement that would have taken the place of the Sandcrawler in A New Hope. This means it would have also been destroyed by the Empire while they searched for the missing droids. This idea has also found its way into the new film as the Japanese trailer clearly shows the village being burned to the ground.
5. New X-Wings
The Force Awakens also sees the introduction of a brand new X-Wing class, with semi-circular exhausts on the wings rather than the traditional round look. This concept has clearly come from one of McQuarrie's earliest pieces, depicting an X-Wing evading a pair of TIE Fighters (which really haven't changed at all).
The new design also takes inspiration from the Clone Wars-era Z-95 Headhunter, which also sports the half circle engine design. Admittedly, these were also based off this particular artwork though, so in reality it all boils back down to this.
6. R2-D2 and BB-8
And finally, the very first sketch of R2-D2 that, after nearly forty years, has once again been used to create another iconic character. BB-8, the orange football droid seen in the very first trailer, was based on these first concepts of R2. While these ideas were quickly abandoned in place of a much more familiar design, it seems they've been brought back for the next generation.
In the end, this design for R2 was scrapped primarily because of the technological limitations of the seventies. Now, with the upgraded effects available to filmmakers, McQuarrie's original vision can finally be realized.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015.