Sure, there are new droids, planets, ships, characters and even the return of “Han old buddy.” (Not to say he’s old, or anything—that’s just a phrase from … you know.)
And there are plenty of new questions: Is that Luke’s metal hand touching R2-D2? And if so, why did he ditch the skin-job? What’s with the shiny waxed-up metallic Stormtrooper who is walking by himself like he’s all important? Who is Luke talking to during his narration and who is being handed a lightsaber? And where is Han and Chewbacca’s “home,” exactly? (That moment almost played like something that’s said riiiight before a character gets killed.)
But perhaps the biggest question is sparked by that wrecked helmet of Darth Vader, which we saw complete with some Vader-breath on the soundtrack (like we needed any help recognizing it).
Could … Darth Vader … still be alive?
Here are some reasons why this seems possible or even likely:
— The Star Wars universe is big on clones. They had a whole war fought with clones. And it’s been decades in the Star Wars universe, J.J. Abrams confirmed Thursday, since the end of Return of the Jedi. Surely Darth left some DNA laying around in his sit-and-spin meditation chamber, right? And now enough time has passed so he could be grown-up again, even without speeding up the process.
— The Force Awakens could add Vader in a way that does not resuscitate Anakin Skywalker: Flashbacks, dreams, an impostor?
— In terms of the production, it’s temptingly easy to do: This isn’t like convincing (and paying) Harrison Ford to return. All you need is an actor in a costume plus James Earl Jones’ legendary baritone and you have the most iconic villain in cinema history.
— The Force Awakens is already a Star Wars reunion tour: We have Han and Luke and Leia and the droids back for a curtain call—so why not Vader? Fans were bummed to see so little of Vader in the three prequels. Abrams likes to give audiences what they want.
— Who is running the Empire is still unclear: There are Stormtroopers and TIE Fighters and sinister new characters. So some version of the Empire is still around—but who’s calling the shots?
— The new trailer inclusion: Would Abrams really put such a clear reference to Darth Vader in his film’s second teaser trailer… and then not have him appear, in some fashion, in the movie itself? And Luke -does say my father “has” Force power, not “had.” Of course, we’re also assuming the voice is Luke’s (remember everybody thought the narrator of the first teaser was Adam Driver and it turned out to be Andy Serkis). Update: Mark Hamill himself has confirmed it is his voice, re-recording these lines originally said in Return of the Jedi, excpept with “has” instead of “had.”
— This all feels familiar: Remember when everybody thought J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness had Khan… but people with the film were saying there was no Khan… and then it turned out there was Khan? Like that.
But there are also at least two big reasons why not:
— The new movie is about what’s, well, new: Force Awakens is launching a new trilogy, so introducing fresh villains and heroes should be the focus, right?
— A Vader comeback could mess with the original trilogy: Anakin Skywalker’s rise, fall, and salvation is the connective tissue of the entire first six movies. Creator George Lucas put a very clear period on the end of his story. Does Abrams really want to re-open that arc? Especially when the character is dead. Unlike with Luke and Han, it’s not like fans are wondering what happened next to Vader—it’s one part of the Star Wars story that doesn’t need continuing. But again, there are ways of adding Vader without fully bringing him back.
Next, take our poll: Do you want to see Vader in Episode VII?
Now here’s the trailer again:
And here’s what we can only hope to see someday (from Wraithdt at Deviant Art):