Recently a huge batch of alleged Star Wars: Episode VII concept art was found hiding in plain sight in an ImageShack album. Though no one from Disney or Lucasfilm has commented either denying or verifying the images, we’ve got several reasons to believe that they’re real.
For one, you can no longer access the album. If you caught a glimpse, you would’ve seen that the images are gorgeous, but don’t give too much away—excellent speculation fodder. For another, several pieces of art match set photos we’ve already glimped, including the Greenwood Hangar we think is standing in for a Yavin 4 base, the AT-AT foot above, and several pieces starring newcomer Daisy Ridley. If these pieces are fake, someone went to a lot of trouble to craft them.
So, assuming these are real… let’s get speculating on what they tell us about the new trilogy!
Obviously, this is full of potential spoilers and speculation on said spoilers for Episode VII. You are warned!
Everything is a leak now! I find it really hard to believe that this was unintentional, particularly since none of the images leaked give us any indication of what our original trilogy trio are up to. That’s the big mystery no one wants to give away. Han, Luke, and Leia don’t appear in these pictures because whoever was in charge of putting out these photos probably decided the “leak” wouldn’t include them.
So we have to assume that what we’re seeing here is what someone wanted us to see. Which makes sense, because it’s making a few significant points on that front:
The universe is more used and cobbled together than ever. I know that the intent was to recapture some of the original trilogy feel by giving everything that “lived-in” look about it, but a lot of what we’re given is ruins and scavenged bits and pieces. A base carved out of an AT-AT, old ships being hauled off for scrap, even Vader’s burned out armor. We haven’t gotten a good look at the Core Worlds, like Coruscant, so we don’t really know what kind of shape the whole galaxy is in. It might be that everything is canapés and fine scotch at the interior, but for the rest of the galaxy… it looks like the end of the fight between the Empire and Rebellion left a lot of scrap and ghostly reminders behind. Even the base at Yavin 4 looks banged up and worse for wear.
Some aspect of the Empire is still active. We see those silver troopers, and they’ve got TIE fighters at their disposal as well. The EU books made a point of fighting Imperial Remnants, but this does appear to be something new, with the silver stormtrooper armor. We also don’t know if the part-cyborg “dark knight” being referred to is in league with those Imperial fragments; though judging by how this figure and the stormtroopers are both being referred to as “knights,” it does seem likely.
Daisy Ridley’s character seems to be the prime focus. We see Ridley’s character referenced the most often, and quite specifically in the sketches. She will definitely be wielding a lightsaber, and though there have been plenty of rumors about what sort of state the Force and the Jedi will be in, I think it’s important to note that the sketch showing her with the lightsaber doesn’t make her look like a beginner. So we’ll see where that leads us.
Even with the images getting yanked, the timing for all this is awfully convenient, especially since Kathleen Kennedy just announced that they’re about three weeks away from completing filming on Episode VII. Emily hit a lot of my initial reactions, but here’s one major takeaway for me!
There seems to be a heavy emphasis on cyborgs of all races. We already know, from cheeky videos and the like, that Abrams and co. are going back to basics with the detailed alien costumes (instead of CGI). But what seems to link several characters in this concept art is that they all have some sort of mechanical attachment:
- There’s a before-and-after shot of Chewbacca, first without and then with a bionic right arm—a note specifically calls out that it comes from a war wound. Hey, so long as he’s nowhere near Sernpidal, I’m happy to see him.
- Two pages of concept art for a new character called Montross shows him with various optical implants over one or both eyes. Some versions include a plate over his head or framing his face, with the most intense contraption covering most of his nose and mouth as well. (In fact, he bears some resemblance to the Dark Knight there…)
- The Knight Troopers look, as Entertainment Weekly pointed out, a bit like old-school Cylons. Could the Empire have gone from clonetroopers to human Stormtroopers to robot Knight Troopers?
- And who’s the man going all “alas poor Yorick” with Vader’s helmet in the “Grave Robber” photos? Assuming it’s the same person in the photos with Daisy Ridley, he’s being described as the Dark Knight.
Part of what made Darth Vader so terrifying and alien in the original trilogy was that he was part-man, part-machine. Our first real look at the man who used to be Anakin Skywalker came in The Empire Strikes Back, when we glimpsed Vader in his chambers without the mask, his body a mess of wires and control panels. Vader and Luke were the only character who relied so heavily on mechanical parts, something that ultimately linked them.
But now, there seems to have been a shift, and perhaps a greater acceptance of organic machinery. (Which automatically makes me wonder where droids might fit into this cyborg-centric future.) Or could there even be some sort of Vader-worshipping cyborg cult? The Dark Knight looks pretty jazzed to be holding up a piece of Lord Vader; his machine-like skull (which looks not unlike one of Montross’ headsets) would fit really well within that helmet.
Speaking of the Dark Knight, the way he’s got Ridley’s character in his thrall is interesting to note. In both images—one of him grasping her, the other where he seems to be controlling her in a lightsaber fight—she looks dazed and not in control. It’s good to see some evidence of the Force here, even if it is the dark side.
Also, can we give a shout-out to that Wampa lightsaber blade? Because that is badass. You know that somewhere, Luke Skywalker is nodding in bearded approval.
Natalie Zutter writes plays about superheroes and sex robots, articles about celebrity conspiracy theories, and Tumblr rants about fandom. You can find her commenting on pop culture and giggling over Internet memes on Twitter.