|Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) covers this week's Entertainment Weekly|
If you need any proof, consider this: a South Korean TV spot for The Force Awakens leaked, featuring literally only 2 seconds of new footage, and it was one of the biggest entertainment stories of the week. The footage itself wasn't even that interesting, it just showed several unidentifiable First Order leaders addressing an army of stormtroopers.
In the latest issue, EW delivers us brand-new images of our characters, and director JJ Abrams discusses how each of them were named, and gives new details on the newest and baddest villain, Kylo Ren.
(Note: the following will include suggestions that certain characters are "Skywalkers". This term simply means that they are a descendant of Luke Skywalker or Leia Organa. So even if Leia and Han Solo's hypothetical son had the last name of Solo, he would still be referred to as a Skywalker.)
First, let's look at our new heroes. From various interviews with the cast and crew, we know that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a capable and self-sufficient scavenger who meets Finn (John Boyega), a runaway stormtrooper, and embarks on an unforgettable journey with him. The beginning of this journey takes place on Jakku, a desert planet similar to Tatooine. It seems that they'll spend a significant portion of the movie being chased by the First Order.
|Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) evade stormtroopers on Jakku|
|Finn runs from the wreckage of a TIE fighter|
|Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)|
You'll recognize Oscar Isaac from Inside Llewn Davis, Drive, and Ex Machina. He's also portraying the titular villain in next May's X-Men: Apocalypse. Isaac says that Poe is sent on a special mission by a "certain princess" (almost certainly meaning Princess Leia) which leads him to Finn, and "their fates are forever intertwined".
Finn and Rey are accompanied by BB-8, an astromech droid seen in the very first teaser for the movie. As we see in the image below, Rey rescues him from another scavenger. This rolling robot is from an actual automated prop, instead of CGI. JJ Abrams has claimed that they relied so much on practical props (like BB-8) that you could watch the film without any CGI, and it would still mostly make sense.
|Rey rescues BB-8 from a scavenger riding a strange beast|
|R2-D2 and C-3PO|
Speaking of inseparable friends, we also have Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). In the first trailer for the film, Han uttered "Chewie, we're home". It definitely seems like "home" is the Millennium Falcon, Solo's iconic ship, but how and why did they lose it? Chewie has his bowcaster ready, so whoever has been using the Falcon in their place must not be friendly.
|Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) return|
As you can see, this movie has quite a few formidable heroes, so it's natural that there are several sinister and powerful villains to match them. All the villains that we've seen so far are affiliated with the First Order, which is basically the Galactic Empire 2.0. Let's start with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who wields his iconic crossguard lightsaber on the cover of the magazine.
EW reveals much about Kylo Ren's background. He's a complex, non-generic villain with some kind of infatuation with Darth Vader and his mask is a "nod" to Vader's helmet, which was seen damaged in the trailer (Kylo Ren most likely finds the remnants of Vader's suit). He built his unique lightsaber himself, and his name comes from the Knights of Ren, a mysterious group that was created for the movie. To sum it up, he's obsessed with Darth Vader (AKA Anakin Skywalker) and he's a skilled technician...so could Kylo Ren's birth name be Kylo Skywalker?
|Kylo Ren and co. have completed the ultimate squad goal of "walking away with explosions behind you"|
Based on the image above and various snippets of footage from the trailer, we can guess that Kylo Ren leads the hunt for Finn (and Rey, by extension) on Jakku...and he's willing to kill anyone who gets in his way.
|General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson)|
One of the First Order's leaders is General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). You'll recognize Gleeson from About Time, Ex Machina (in which he coincidentally starred alongside Oscar Isaac), and he was a Weasley brother in the final 2 Harry Potter films. He could also potentially be a Skywalker, but really, we have to draw the line somewhere. Just because a character is new and young doesn't mean they're automatically a Skywalker. Though it would be cool if it turned out every single major character was related to each other, and the movie ends with a big Skywalker family reunion instead of a climactic battle. They could roast marshmallows on their lightsabers!
Another officer of the First Order is Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), who gets her name from the 1979 horror film Phantasm, which features a weapon with a silvery-chrome shine that's similar to Phasma's own armor. At 6 foot 3 (1.91 meters), Christie is one of the tallest successful actresses of all time, and she's known for playing female knight Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones. Brienne and Phasma might seem very different, but they have something big in common: they're both strong, female warriors who wear armor traditionally meant for a man.
|Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is the chrome-clad muscle of the First Order|
Which character are you most excited to see? Who do you think might be a Skywalker? Tell me in the comments, and may the force be with you all.