Luke Skywalker's Sister-Kissing Trauma, a Surprise Concert and More 'Star Wars' Comic-Con Highlights
No one's going to top this panel.
The Star Wars panel was this year's most anticipated Comic-Con event, and LucasFilm did not disappoint. Not only did they bring out all the franchise's biggest stars, but JJ Abrams ended the panel by leading everyone in Hall H to a Star Wars concert on the San Diego waterfront. Here are some highlights from the panel.
1. JJ Abrams Talks About Taking Over a Beloved Franchise
Abrams came into the Star Wars franchise as a huge fan, and according to LucasFilm President Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan the appreciation was mutual. Abrams started the panel by talking about his connection to the films.
"Star Wars is something that's so deeply ingrained and so important to so many people. I asked my mom to make a Jawa costume for me when I was 13 — she did the costume and I did the eyes — and it was great." Abrams went on to talk about how incredible it was to find himself helming the new movies. "There's nothing normal about sitting down with Lawrence Kasdan to write another Star Wars movie. There's nothing normal about showing new footage to John Williams to score a Star Wars movie that he hasn't seen yet. But it was amazing."
2. Meet Boba Joe
Just like with BB-8 at Celebration Day in May, JJ Abrams introduced another practical effects character that was created for The Force Awakens. This time we were introduced to Boba Joe, a trudging turtlish character carrying around a whole lot of goods on his back. The character shuffled out to greet the audience to big cheers before making his way off stage.
3. Chewie Was in the Front Row
As fans were asking questions of JJ Abrams, a familiar (and very tall) figure loomed behind them. Peter Mayhew, who's played Chewbacca ever since the first movie, was sitting in the front row of Hall H in the ADA section with his very tall cane.
4. New Footage!
JJ Abrams brought a sizzle reel from the new movie, but it didn't show much we hadn't seen before. We did, however, get to see a very large new humanoid alien, and Simon Pegg getting ready for his cameo by dressing up in a big alien costume.
5. Those Awesome Location Shots Take a Toll
Everyone involved in shooting the original Star Wars trilogy seems to have a story about how hard the location shots could be — especially for Hoth and Tatooine. The new cast learned all about how rough those desert shoots can be.
"We were running through 125 degree heat and those explosions were for real," Daisy Ridley said.
John Boyega added: "I'd just like to thank JJ Abrams for making me run through the desert in Abu Dhabi in a Storm Trooper suit. Thank you JJ Abrams I really enjoyed that."
6. Harrison Ford Didn't Really Have Any Good Advice for Oscar Isaac
As Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaac is playing one of the greatest pilots in the Rebel Alliance. He said during the panel that since he was playing a pilot he asked real-life pilot Harrison Ford for advice. His reply? "Well it's fake, and also it's in space so those rules don't really apply."
Isaac added that he thinks Poe might have been at the Medal Ceremony in A New Hope, and that the character grew up seeing Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia as real-life heroes.
7. Casting Diversity Is Seriously Important
Both JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy assured fans that keeping the cast diverse is very important. Abrams explained: "We didn't write the character of Finn [played by John Boyega] to be any color. We didn't write the character of Rey [played by Daisy Ridley] to be any color. We want our film to represent the way people look, and I'm very happy with the way this cast ended up."
8. The New Cast Talks Working with Their Idols
The new Star Wars heroes have some big shoes to fill, and they were understandably a little in awe of their predecessors. So what was it like meeting them on set for the first time?
Oscar Isaac: "Harrison thought I was wearing a wig."
Daisy Ridley: "Working with the legends that have already made this universe was everything we could have hoped for and more. They're funny and welcoming and warm, and a dream to work with."
John Boyega: "My greatest memory was taking Harrison Ford to a Nigerian restaurant in London, and watching all these Nigerians turn around and see Harrison Ford. Then one man comes up and asks, "Are you Harrison Ford?" And he says, "I used to be."
9. Gwendoline Christie Was Actually Psyched to Wear Another Suit of Armor
Thanks to her fan-favorite run on Game of Thrones, Christie is no stranger to wearing big elaborate armor. When panel host Chris Hardwick asked her what she thought about playing another character concealed in armor, she assured him she actually enjoyed it.
"I found the costume exciting," she said. "And not only that there was a female Storm Trooper, but that it was an opportunity to explore a female character that is totally not about the way she looks in flesh. That armor is the exterior, and it's feeding her from the outside in."
10. Welcome to "Starkiller Base"
Domnhall Gleeson let a few details leak while talking about his character, General Hux, who's "in charge of a lot of people" at a star base with a very interesting name. After Gleeson realized he'd said a little too much, Abrams stepped in.
"The name of the base, in honor of the original name of Luke Skywalker, is 'Starkiller Base,'" Abrams said.
11. The New Heroes Proclaim Their Alignments
A fan in Hall H asked the new cast whether they came down on the Dark Side or the Light, and here's how the replied.
John Boyega: "Oh I wouldn't be involved in any of that. I'd be Han Solo trying to make some money."
Daisy Ridley: "And I'd be his sidekick."
Oscar Isaac: "Light"
Adam Driver: "Dark"
Domhnall Gleeson: "Dark"
Gwendoline Christie: "Dark"
12. The Legends Return
Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford (especially Harrison Ford) all received big standing ovations from the Hall H crowd as they walked onstage. All of them were asked in one way or another what it was like to return to Star Wars after so many years. Here's what Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford had to say.
Carrie Fisher: "It was like a flashback. I thought they were right about the acid flashbacks. I didn't think that it was going to happen again. So I had to check and see if it was just me. I always said it was a little bit like before except we looked more melted this time. But in a good way, like Force Melted."
Harrison Ford: "It should have felt ridiculous. It was 30 years ago and I sort of grew up, and here I was doing something I did so long ago, and I will tell you that it felt great. I wasn't so sure it would, but the company was the right company, the director was the right director. Larry wrote a great story and I was proud and grateful once again to be involved."
13. Kissing His Sister Might Have Traumatized Luke Skywalker
Mark Hamill surprised fans by addressing one of the most icky aspects of the Star Wars franchise: Luke Skywalker's early romantic interest in his sister, Princes Leia.
When asked where he saw the character going after the end of Return of the Jedi, he replied: "I had a feeling I probably ended up like Sir Alec in the first one, like some hermit out in the desert. After kissing his sister I mean. No human contact, just droids. We all laugh about it, but that must have been quite the traumatic experience for my character because we [Luke and Han Solo] were both after her."
Harrison Ford turned to him and quipped, "How many times can I say I'm sorry?"
14. The Surprise Concert
As the panel drew to a close, JJ Abrams sprung his big surprise on the audience — a free outdoor Star Wars concert nearby. Abrams then directed everyone to head out of Hall H and start walking toward the nearby amphitheater on the San Diego waterfront. That's where the San Diego Symphony performed a series of selections from the Star Wars movies. Everyone in attendance was handed a light-up lightsaber to wave around as the music played. And at the end, as the symphony launched into the Star Wars theme, a huge fireworks display was set off from a nearby boat.