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Star Wars Celebration: The Force Awakens panel reaction

Toy lightsabers were aloft, t-shirts were being fired into the rafters (from a nifty ’t-shirt cannon’) and hip-hop remixes of The Imperial March were making speakers quake. Yep, the mood was pretty hyper ahead of the big kick-off for Star Wars Celebration: the panel for The Force Awakens. The USP was, of course, the new teaser trailer - but that came at the very end of an hour of warm anecdotage and a few (carefully dispatched) nuggets of information. Did you see the trailer? If not, watch it right here (opens in new tab).

JJ Abrams set the appreciating-the-fans vibe from the off, taking a picture of the Hall D crowd as he took to the stage, closely followed by Lucasfilm pres Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams discussed saying ‘no’ initially to Star Wars, dressing as a Jawa for Halloween (as a child, mind), and bringing back that retro, in-camera-effects feel. The latter went down a storm with the crowds, especially when it was backed up by new, non-CGI ball droid BB8 rolling onto the stage, joining his comrade R2-D2.

Soon after it was time to meet the new (human) kids: Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. Ridley revealed that her character Rey is a ‘scavenger’ living in a ship graveyard who’s drawn into an adventure with Boyega’s Finn on a desert planet called… Jakku. Or maybe it’s ‘Jakoo’. Anyway, it’s definitely not Tatooine.

Boyega kept his cards close to his chest, refusing to say whether Finn’s a good guy or a bad one (“My memory’s gone”). Isaac, meanwhile, was pretty clear about who Poe Dameron is: “the best frickin’ pilot in the universe”. He’s also someone who’s been “sent on a mission” by a “princess”. Presumably Leia, but time will tell…

Isaac recalled playing the Star Wars theme “as loud as I could” when he got the call that he was in the movie. Boyega also had a great fan-ecdote - getting Harrison Ford to sign an oversized Solo-as-Stormtrooper doll. (“This is weird,” Ford apparently rumbled.) Next up: a parade of new-look Stormtroopers, followed by SW veterans Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

Fisher may have disappointed some when she said the infamous ‘buns’ hairstyle wouldn’t be making a comeback - nor the gold bikini - but did win a big laugh with the quip “Thank you for playing with me” (referring to the action figures, of course). Finally, it was time for a group photo… and for a man at the back to roar louder than Wookiee who’s just stepped on a plug, “Show the trailer!”

Which they duly did, twice - bringing to a close an hour that didn’t reveal too much, but just enough to keep the hordes happy.