The shields are down, the landing bay doors have blown open, and many of Star Wars: Episode VII‘s secrets just got sucked into cyberspace.
An Imageshack account under the handle “themillenniumfalcon” posted 32 drawings from the upcoming J.J. Abrams movie that revealed some major details from the film, due in theaters Dec. 18, 2015.
Here’s the thing … EW’s not going to post the photos or link to them. Stolen goods, folks, and it’s not the Pentagon Papers or a Wikileaks dump that concerns the public good. In the interest of respecting the storytellers, we’re going to refrain from publishing purloined images the same way we respect certain spoilers when we do a set visit or interview.
But the fact is, this is a massive security breach on perhaps the most anticipated film of 2015. That is news, and Episode VII seems to have more leaks than the mechanical shark that kept sinking during the making of Jaws.
With that in mind, it’s fair game to talk about what these photos reveal about Abrams & Co.’s approach to the most iconic sci-fi franchise in movie history. Those wishing to avoid all contact with these images, even descriptions of what they contain, should back out now.
1.) Darth Vader — Yes, he may be dead (and redeemed just in time), but that funeral pyre on the forest moon of Endor that concluded Return of the Jedi is not the last we will see of that masked man. His scorched armor features prominently in Episode VII, and the concept art reveals that a sinister cyborg in a black cloak is giving Anakin Skywalker’s helmet the “Alas, poor Yorrick” treatment. Who he is, and why he has collected Vader’s remains is the first question these images raise.
2.) Silver Trooper — This figure looks to be what happens if you mate an Imperial Stormtrooper with an old-school Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. The ImageShack post describes this character as a “knight,” and the shiny metallic armor certainly conjures a refined, medieval vibe. What we don’t know is whether this a singular, specific character, or part of an overall class of warrior (think the scarlet guards who once flanked Emperor Palpatine.)
3.) War-wound Chewbacca — One true spoiler revealed in the images is that Chewbacca takes a serious hit in this movie. It’s confusing at first because the concept drawing shows the character with his signature bowcaster slung over one shoulder, but another representation on the same page shows the Wookiee co-pilot with a mechancial right paw. That suggests Chewie hasn’t lost his limb in the 30-odd years since we last saw him, but suffers an amputation during the course of the new story. (There’s even a note with an arrow pointing to it that states: “Bionic arm from war wound.”) Maybe this is an homage to kids who grew up with the Kenner action figures … Chewbacca’s hands always seemed to get chewed by little brothers and sisters.
4.) Old Stomping Grounds — Multiple images in the collection of stolen drawings are of an airbase we’ve seen in multiple snapshots from the set in England, all based around the real-life Greenham Common, a grassy former U.S. military base where nuclear weapons were stored during the Cold War. We see similar structures in the concept art, identifying the fictional location as Massassi Hangar. That won’t mean anything to even casual fans of Star Wars, but hardcore fans will recognize that as the temple on the moon Yavin 4 that’s used as a base by the Rebel Alliance in the orignal 1977 Star Wars. (This is the place the Death Star is lining up to annihilate in the climax.)
5.) A New New Hope — Although Abrams hasn’t revealed any character details, it’s clear from the drawings that the central figure in the story will be newcomer Daisy Ridley’s character, depicted in the drawings exploring the lair of the cloaked cyborg, raising a lightsaber while he looms over a fallen young man, and in one pose being clutched by him while wearing a dazed expression. If Luke Skywalker was the chosen one meant to bring balance to the light and dark sides of the Force, she seems to be the subject of this film’s tug-of-war.
6.) Human/Cyborg Relations — Who is Montross? The concept art reveals several versions of this battered old-timer, apparently sitting at a bar and drowning his space-sorrows. (There’s no background, but this guy would fit right in at the Mos Eisley cantina.) Although each sketch is different, the character tends to have at least one mechanical eye (one looks like part of a C-3PO-style protocol droid), a robotic arm and leg, and in one drawing a steel trap jaw. He’s an older man, which suggests this could be the Max von Sydow character.
7.) Life in Ruins — Perhaps the most exciting thing revealed in this document dump is the way residents of a desert planet that looks a lot like Tatooine have eked out an existence among the shattered remains of the war between the Rebels and the Empire. There is a toppled AT-AT, now serving as a makeshift hideaway, and salvage operation to haul away a fallen X-Wing with the wreckage of an Imperial Star Destroyer rising in the distance like a mountain range. It’s clear from the fiery crash-site of a TIE Fighter that fighting continues and these are not dusty relics from the past.
Those are the main takeaways from the concept images. The only other remaining question is, “Will any of Episode VII‘s secrets still be intact when the movie opens?”