For those who haven’t been caught up in the slow drip of trailer releases for The Force Awakens, here’s a handy little guide for you to follow.
Teaser 1: Nov. 28, 2014
Believe it or not, it’s been almost a year since the first trailer came out. Released in part due to an outcry from fans to know more about the upcoming movie, from the first voiceover of “There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?” this premier trailer gave us all chills at the thought that THIS THING IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING! Coming in at just about a minute and a half long (okay, only 88 seconds…), it introduced us to images that immediately became iconic:
- John Boyega (whose character we later learned was called “Finn”) in a stormtrooper outfit
- The Millennium Falcon pulling its version of a Crazy Ivan
- BB-8 rolling through the desert
- A lightsaber with a crossguard
We didn’t know character names (those weren’t released until a couple weeks later), but everything we saw told us that this was going to be something different than anything we’ve seen before. In short, it was the perfect appeteaser to the forthcoming Star Wars feast.
Teaser 2: April 16, 2015
The first trailer gave everyone a lot to talk (mostly speculatively) about, but as the months went by, we all wanted more. However, it wasn’t until the following April that the second trailer was released. A full 20 seconds longer than the first trailer, its tone was much different than the first one: Whereas the first trailer was designed to surprise, excite and get our blood pumping, the second trailer was more melancholy and nostalgic, daring us to ponder the plot and situation of what was going on.
- Why is there a Star Destroyer half buried in a desert?
- Whose cyber-hand is that touching R2-D2?
- Who is Luke talking to when he says, “The Force is strong in my family: My father has it; I have it; my sister has it; you have that power, too.”?
- And why is Luke’s reference to his father present tense!?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of excitement in the second trailer, but unlike the first one that appealed to our adrenaline and emotions to evoke a visceral response, the second trailer was designed to get our mental juices flowing.
Instagram Teaser: Aug. 27, 2015
The third teaser was released on Instagram in late August, a week and a day before Force Friday on Sept. 4. A mere 15 seconds long, the teaser recycled some images, but also gave us another important piece of the puzzle: Finn wielding a lightsaber that looks exactly like Anakin Skywalker’s (second) lightsaber — i.e., the one Obi-Wan gave to Luke, and which dropped into oblivion with Luke’s hand in Cloud City.
Despite being so short, the Instagram teaser elicited as much response as the previous trailers. In addition to the Finn lightsaber reveal, we get a new shot of Rey and BB-8 together, as well as a panoramic view of the First Order that was previously used in a Korean television spot. The revelations are slowly building, and at this point everyone is clawing for as much info as they can get.
Full-Length Trailer: Oct. 19, 2015 (during Monday Night Football)
More nerds tuned in to watch football on Monday, Oct. 19th than perhaps any other time – which is entirely appropriate, considering the game was between the Eagles and the Giants (Manwë would be proud that the Eagles won the game). Broadcast on the Disney-owned ESPN channel, the first full-length trailer aired during the game’s halftime program, and it basically brought down the internet.
Until now, a lot of the trailers had focused on the spectacle and novelty of The Force Awakens as a new entry in the Star Wars galaxy. This trailer gave us two-and-a-half minutes, and used the time wisely to give us some actual development of the newest characters in the franchise. First, we have Rey telling a someone (consensus seems to be that it’s Maz Kanata, a rogue pirate), “I’m no one,” with various shots of her on the desert planet Jakku. Next, we turn to Finn declaring, “I was raised to do one thing, but I’ve got nothing to fight for” as he removes his stormtrooper helmet and apparently – if we can believe the cuts – crash lands on Jakku as well. The third character we learn about is Kylo Ren, who is standing on the bridge with a voiceover of him saying, “Nothing will stand in our way,” concluding with the statement “I will finish what you started” as we see Darth Vader’s mask mangled and melted, presumably by the funeral pyre Luke built at the end of Return of the Jedi.
If the first half of the full Force Awakens trailer pulls us into the story of the new characters, the second half draws us in even further, as at just about the halfway point we hear Han Solo telling Rey that the story she heard is “true – all of it.” Battle scenes and action shots fill up the rest of the trailer as Han tells us, “the Dark Side, the Jedi, they’re real” in an apparent change of heart from his belief that “no mystical energy field controls my destiny” in A New Hope.
And once again we get someone – we don’t know who – being told that the Force is calling them.
Japanese Trailer: Nov. 7, 2015
Now, earlier today, a new trailer was put out there, this one released on the Japanese Disney YouTube channel. We get – for the first time – the sound of BB-8 “talking” somewhat similarly to R2-D2, and we get more conversation between Rey and (presumably) Maz. Perhaps the most exciting bit, however, is Finn and Rey introducing themselves to each other. We had seem them together briefly in other teasers, but to this point we had not actually heard either of their names out loud. We get more lightsaber shots – including one palpitating moment of Kylo Ren holding his crossguarded saber extremely close to Rey’s cheek from behind, as heat waves are thrown off the static-y blade in what looks more like a mythological flaming sword than a traditional lightsaber.
But of course the crowning moment comes at the end with a woman’s voice telling us, “Hope is not lost today; it is found.”
Fan Edits and More
In the wake of these trailers, we’ve got some amazing fan edits as well.
For example, we get a somewhat humorous trailer from one fan who was upset at the lack of Luke Skywalker in any of the official teasers.
More annoyingly, another fan did something similar, only instead of Luke, they inserted Jar-Jar into the Force Awakens trailer, titling it “The Binks Awakens.”
Others have applied the gritty, action-packed style of the Force Awakens trailers to the prequel movies, making them look rather good!
Back to the upcoming film, there’s something rather powerful about this fan edit that simply removes all the dialogue and keeps in just the soundtrack.
Perhaps the most crowning achievement, however, is this “supercut” fan edit which puts all of the teasers up through the Oct. 19th full trailer into a single video.
More to Come?
I suspect in the next month and change leading up to the movie’s premier, we will get at least one more official trailer. And, even if not, there is bound to be more fan-edited stuff to enjoy until then.
In any case, there’s plenty to drool over. Because of course, you can’t just watch each one a single time. Part of the enjoyment is taking it all in, and then breaking it down bit by bit.
Update! Official TV Spot: Nov. 8, 2015
Not 24 hours after I posted this, the official Star Wars Twitter page released the first official U.S. television spot. This latest installment gives us even more new footage, and completely new dialogue of a woman (Maz again?) saying: “I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes. I know your eyes.”
We’re getting down to the wire, here, folks!
— Twitter (@twitter) November 8, 2015