The Force is certainly strong with the Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
In just 12 days, the space opera has blasted past the $1 billion mark worldwide, bettering the 13 days taken by Jurassic World, which had the advantage of opening in the lucrative Chinese market a day after its domestic (USA/Canada) debut -- Star Wars won’t open in the China for another 10 days.
Domestically, The Force Awakens is already in the top 5, and should eventually overtake Avatar ($760,507,625). The film could also pose a challenge to Avatar’s worldwide tally of $2.778 billion, depending on its staying power overseas.
In Pakistan, the new Star Wars film has already collected a respectable Rs 5 million and is expected to only do better once its current Bollywood competition withers away.
As the film’s commercial and critical success reveals, The Force Awakens has found plenty of love. Of course, Episode VII has also raised plenty of questions… some of which are sparking nerd rage across the internet.
Here, I am going to try and answer some of these points. At the very least, it should lead to interesting feedback in the comments.
Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen the film and plan to, then turn away. On the other hand, for a relatively spoiler-free take on the film, look for my review in an upcoming Images on Sunday issue.
(FINAL WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD)
1. To start with, what happened to The Galactic Empire after the death of Darth Vader and the Emperor?
The empire wasn’t quite defeated at The Battle of Endor. A year later, the weakened Empire fought against the Rebellion at Jakku, where they suffered heavy losses, eventually losing in a decisive battle. The skeletons of this engagement can be seen on the desert landscape of Jakku in The Force Awakens.
2. What is The First Order?
Recovering from the ashes of The Galactic Empire is The First Order. Wookieepedia sums them up, “With the Empire limited in its ability to wage war and reduced to a mere fragment of its former glory, Imperial warships began jumping into the Unknown Regions in an effort to escape the prying eyes of the New Republic.
There, distanced from the galaxy at large and facing a vast and unexplored frontier, the First Order would eventually be formed from the remnants of the Old Empire, being inspired by the principles of the fallen government and led by former officers of the Empire.
With many of the Emperor's servants carrying some of the regime's greatest military secrets to the Unknown Regions, the First Order began a massive militarization effort to produce a technologically superior military to the former Galactic Empire, keenly aware that it lacked the superior numbers of the former state.
Numerous shipyards, bases, and research facilities were built on newly explored star systems and colonized worlds as the Order slowly multiplied and plotted its eventual return to the galaxy at large. Growing in size and strength, the First Order would come under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke, a powerful dark side user and served by his apprentice, Kylo Ren.
With Snoke's successful manipulation of Kylo Ren to the dark side of the Force, his apprentice and the Knights of Ren would destroy Luke Skywalker's attempt at restarting the Jedi Order, with subsequent purges and hunting down of those with force affinity much like the previous Inquisitorius of the Old Empire.”
3. Is Han really dead?
Han’s demise is the film’s most gut wrenching moment. Initially, I too was in denial, but now have come to terms with the smuggler’s death. Sadly, I don’t think even Solo can come back from a lightsaber to the gut, and an eventual fall into a planet about to explode into smithereens.
Besides, the aging Harrison Ford always wanted his Star Wars character to die in glory, and finally has his wish.
The death of Han Solo also makes way for Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) to shine in the next installments, and adds to Luke’s character motivations, considering that Han’s murderer is a former student of Skywalker’s.
4. How is Finn able to use a lightsaber?
As the film showed, some First Order stormtroopers are trained in melee combat with a Z6 riot control baton, and really, anyone can pick up a lightsaber and wave it around. Of course, only trained Jedi can use a lightsaber well enough against projectile weapons or in tricky situations.
5. Is Rey related to Obi-Wan Kenobi?
It is possible. When Rey picks up Luke’s lightsaber, she can hear Obi-Wan’s voice encouraging her. Of course, she also hears Yoda’s voice, and clearly she isn’t the little green Jedi Master’s daughter.
6. Is Rey Luke’s daughter?
I would be shocked if she isn’t, after all the signs thrown our way by The Force Awakens.
In one of the film’s trailers, Luke Skywalker says, “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power, too.”
Yes, it is safe to assume that Luke is speaking to the film’s protagonist, Rey, and not Chewbacca. In a pivotal scene, Maz Kanata tells Rey that the lightsaber belonged to Luke Skywalker, and his father Anakin before him, and now calls to her, which also seems like a fairly clear indication.
Other signs include the fact that R2D2 came online when Rey stepped on the Resistance base, that Rey and Kylo inexplicably speak of Luke’s getaway island during the interrogation scene, and how Rey, and Rey alone was sent by Leia to Luke towards the end. And no, I don’t think it was to simply return the lightsaber.
And I don’t think Rey is Han and Leia’s daughter, or they would have shown her more recognition. It is difficult to believe the couple holds out hope for a murdering psychotic son, yet abandons his sister.
On a larger scale, I believe it is important for the franchise to have a good young Skywalker character to carry the flag. With Ren cemented in position as a villain, and Luke and Leia unlikely to have any more children, only Rey Skywalker can take the famous bloodline forward.
7. If Luke is Rey’s father, who is her mother?
The accents in the Star Wars universe hold meaning. There is a reason why Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn) speak with different accents even though they are both British actors.
Usually, those with American accents are the middle class, while those with British accents in the Star Wars universe are from more powerful bloodlines or at least mingle with politicians. It is my belief that Rey’s mother, at least, will be a person of influence.
8. How did Rey suddenly find Force powers?
It is unlikely that Rey suddenly began to discover her abilities out of impulse, otherwise Luke, Anakin, and even Leia would have done so as well. As the film explains, Luke started an academy where he was training young Jedi, and from Rey’s visions, we can see she was possibly a part of this school.
When Rey performs a Jedi mind trick on a stormtrooper, I feel like she has started to recall her childhood lessons. As we all know, the Jedi training begins from a very young age.
Of course, Rey, remembers nothing because in all likelihood, Luke suppressed her memories in order to protect her from Kylo Ren and his master, Supreme Leader Snoke. When Rey comes across her father’s lightsaber, she is triggered, Jason Bourne style.
If the memory suppression plotline sounds farfetched, then you should know that it has been used before in the Star Wars universe in the role-playing games and extended universe books.
9. Is Finn force sensitive?
Although there seems to be no evidence of this at all, my gut says that he is, otherwise the franchise wouldn’t so freely associate him with a lightsaber, which is an iconic Star Wars weapon. This could be why Kylo Ren examines Finn so curiously at the beginning of the film and why Finn suddenly went rogue after showing no sign of nonconformity.
As for his past, I believe the next film will have fun examining his bloodline, but I wonder if Finn is the grandson of late Jedi Master Mace Windu. If so, hopefully there is a purple lightsaber in Finn’s future.
10. Why was Kylo Ren, a trained Jedi, unable to defeat Finn or Rey easily?
The most controversial aspect of The Force Awakens is Kylo Ren’s lightsaber duel with Finn. Although Ren eventually defeats Finn, he does so with some difficulty. This has led to plenty of geek anger on the internet, with people asking how a trained dark Jedi found a mere ex-stormtrooper so challenging.
Well, let’s keep in mind that Finn is most likely trained in melee combat. What’s more, Ren was shot in the gut by Chewbacca’s deadly Wookie bowcaster, a blow that left him seriously hurt. Similar shots had killed stormtroopers.
Rey, on the other hand was not only recalling her Force powers and Jedi training, but was already an experienced melee fighter with her staff on Jakku. So it isn’t unusual that she bested a tired and hurt Kylo Ren in combat.
11. Has Luke gone to the dark side?
There were rumors that Luke had turned to the dark side, and some have taken the heaviness on his face in final scene of The Force Awakens as an indication of his fall to evil. I have to completely disagree.
After setting up a Jedi Academy that was destroyed when Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) turned to the dark side, Luke isolated himself, possibly out of guilt, but also to protect his loved ones from the Knights of Ren who sought to end him.
When Luke finally meets Rey at the end of the film, he looks crestfallen. This is clearly because Luke has felt the crippling pain of his best friend’s death at the hands of his own ex-student. What’s more, in Rey, he finally reconnects with a close member of his kin, who I speculate is his daughter. This is why Luke looks so weary… not because he has turned to the dark side.