It's finally here. On Monday, VIPs around the world were treated to the first screenings of the film some people never thought would come to screens. And the rest of us regular less-important folk are just days away from seeing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
All Star Wars fans have standout memories of the films. Maybe it was the first time you saw it in theaters or watched the series in a fun new order, or when you first introduced a friend to the franchise. Unless you recently marathoned all six (or just three) films, here are some things to refresh your memory before we're (re)introduced to a galaxy far, far away.
Warning: There are no spoilers in this article. Everything outlined here are things we know or have learned about the movie already straight from the writers, trailers or promo material. That being said, if you're one of those "total blackout necessary" spoiler-haters, get out now. Seriously, go.
'Force Awakens' is already a record-breaking release
Episode VII has already broken presale ticket records for this weekend's opening day, and it's expected to break the international opening weekend record set earlier in 2015 by "Jurassic World" at $525.5 million (around AU$721.7 million or £364.6 million).
With a classic cast that includes Carrie Fisher as General Leia, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker as R2-D2, the next generation of characters have some big shoes to fill, and no one seems to be more excited about this than the actors playing them.
Skywalkers were once the most important people in the universe (and they continue to be)
As a "Saga" film, we know that "The Force Awakens" will continue the story of the Skywalker family, but we have no idea just whose story it will be. The prequels were Anakin's story, the original trilogy was Luke's and these three will focus on...Luke's child?
The absence of Luke from any and all promotional materials (and all of the fan theories surrounding this) means we'll have at least one major reveal in the film. But despite the fact that we know Mark Hamill is a part of the cast, knowing that begs the question of which generation this will follow. Set 30 years after "Return of the Jedi," this is the first film to take place close to "real" time, so we assume it will be about Luke or Leia's offspring. Which brings us to...
We know next to nothing about the main characters of the film, Rey and Finn
For all the speculation, one or both could very well be a Skywalker. Or a Solo. Or neither of either, to be honest. We know Poe Dameron is an X-wing fighter pilot, and we think we know his last name, but it wouldn't be the first time in Star Wars history the audience was intentionally misled. We also know that Rey was left on planet Jakku by her family when she was a youngling, but even she has no idea why -- a story which definitely lends credence to her being the daughter of a very important classic character.
Neither Daisy Ridley nor John Boyega (who play Rey and Finn, respectively) have had much to say on the subject. In an interview with CNET, Boyega said of his character, "Everybody's asking about the mystery of who Finn is. He's a mysterious guy so far, and no one has any clue what's going on with him." Great, thanks for the heads-up, Boyega.
The Empire and the Rebellion have undergone some name changes, but that may not be all that's different
From the "death" of the Empire may have risen The First Order. Director J.J. Abrams said in an interview with Empire that the idea was influenced by the Nazis.
"What would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again? What could be born of that?
"Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn't get done?"
The First Order seems to have all of the characteristics of the Empire, complete with Stormtroopers and their silver-armored leader Captain Phasma (played by Gwendoline Christie of "Game of Thrones"); TIE fighters; an evil British dude leading a base; and of course a behind-the-scenes Supreme Leader.
The Rebel Alliance aka Rebellion, meanwhile, has evolved into The Resistance -- but what are they resisting now?
Could it be the Knights of Ren? Having been mentioned only very briefly in backstory information, the group seems to be where new bad boy Kylo Ren got his moniker -- which, while we're speculating, means that Kylo could very well be a Skywalker too. Played by Adam Driver and seen fighting Finn in the trailer with that badass hilted lightsaber, Kylo could even be the new trilogy's Vader or Luke.
When we last saw the galaxy (meaning in numerical order, not in Episode III), the Sith were (presumed) dead and gone, and Luke was left as the only Jedi alive (that we knew of). After all the fluctuations in The Force and in the universe, we have to wonder if maybe some of our presumptions were flat-out wrong.
R2-D2 is the real star of the Saga films
Honestly, I guarantee you've forgotten how many times the little droid has saved the universe from certain destruction!
R2-D2's ability to "interface" with any and all computers means he's able to open doors even those with The Force can't touch. Skywalkers may be destined to rule the universe in one way or another, but R2-D2 is the droid behind their power. Here's hoping adorable new droid BB-8 can roll with the times and pull his (or her?) own weight.
"The Force Awakens" opens this week on a rolling basis in theaters around the globe. Until then, check out one of the numerous trailers () and take your . Don't forget to let us know in the comments what you're most excited to see on the big screen after all these years!