With The Force Awakens coming to home media in just two weeks, Star Wars fans are hitting a fever pitch yet again, this time to pick apart the movie. No, I don’t mean picking apart the various plot holes, vagueries, burning questions or character inconsistencies (for more on those, please visit here). I mean all the hidden references to the other Star Wars movies from both the Original and Prequel trilogies.
The joy of Blu-Ray means getting to freeze frame all those blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments that you may have missed in the theatre, even upon repeat viewings. With Rogue One set to hit cinemas later this year, rewatching The Force Awakens ad-nauseum, despite the movie’s flaws, can offer a fix for fans eager to jump to hyperspace once more.
10. Finn’s Jacket
If that fine leather jacket that Poe Dameron gives to Finn looks very familiar, it’s because you have seen it before, or one almost just like it. Luke Skywalker himself wears a jacket almost identical to Finn’s at the end of A New Hope.
Both jackets have the same pleated trim on the shoulders and the sleeves, and both have a similar pocket just above the left breast. The similarity does, however, raise one question: don’t styles change over the course of 30 years?
9. The Remote
One of the most talked about scenes of A New Hope found Obi-Wan instructing Luke in the use of a lightsaber. To demonstrate, Obi-Wan launches a flying ball that shoots laser blasts, and has Luke try to deflect them.
In the Star Wars universe, the floating ball is known as a remote, and it has various uses besides helping young Jedi learn to use a saber. In The Force Awakens, Finn spots the remote as he rummages through storage aboard the Millennium Falcon. He takes a moment to notice it and tosses it aside, so this Easter Egg is a great one to look for on DVD.
8. The Chessboard
The Millennium Falcon of course, still has its famous combination chessboard and coffee table located in the passenger cabin of the ship. During The Force Awakens, Rey and Finn accidentally turn it on to reveal a series of animated monsters.
Fans of Star Wars should recall R2D2’s famous chess match with Chewbacca in A New Hope–the very same game that produced the quote “let the Wookie win.” The characters that appear when Finn and Rey activate the chessboard are the same that appear when Chewie and Artoo play chess. It makes you wonder if Chewie ever got over losing to a droid!
7. Nien Nunb
Though nobody calls him by name in The Force Awakens, the movie sees the return of one of Return of the Jedi‘s favorite characters: Nien Nunb. Nunb piloted the Falcon alongside Lando Calrissian at the Battle of Endor; he’s the “catfish” alien that rambles in some alien dialect (actually Kenyan).
Nunb returns in The Force Awakens, though this time as a solo pilot in the Battle of the Starkiller. He flies an X-Wing fighter alongside Poe, and even gets to rattle off more of his gibberish.
6. Mandalorian Banner
Maz Kanata’s castle hosts a number of various alien species from across the galaxy, much like Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi or the cantina in A New Hope. Another familiar icon makes a cameo outside the castle too…
The tusked-skull icon is famous within Star Wars lore…as the emblem of the Mandalorian race, that of Jango and Boba Fett! What the flag is doing outside Maz’s castle is anyone’s guess, though given that she has both good and evil spies lurking in her mess hall, perhaps she treats her castle as a sort of neutral territory for galactic travelers.
5. Daniel Craig
Viewers won’t spot this hidden gem with even the keenest of eyes. Rather, they’ll have to use their ears! If the stormtrooper that Rey manipulates with the Force sounds familiar, there is a very good reason.
The voice, and incidentally, the body under the trooper armor belongs to current James Bond and Star Wars fanatic Daniel Craig. Craig had lobbied Lucasfilm for a brief role in The Force Awakens, and was granted the unseen cameo as a subtle but noteworthy appearance.
4. Yoda & Obi-Wan
Speaking of familiar audio, during Rey’s Force vision, some iconic Star Wars voices have cameos: Yoda and Obi-Wan. The soundtrack reuses audio from The Empire Strikes Back to allow actor Frank Oz to reprise his role as the miniature Jedi master.
Even better, both Obi-Wans have a cameo. The late Sir Alec Guinness speaks from beyond the grave, courtesy of some clever audio editing, calling out Rey’s name. The Prequel incarnation of Obi-Wan gets most of the dialogue though, with actor Ewan McGregor once again stepping into the role.
Frank Oz and Ewan McGregor have confirmed, as have the production team of The Force Awakens that the actors actually recorded new dialogue for the film. It could amount to little more than a fun Easter Egg for the movie, but with luck, it could hint at future big screen returns for the beloved characters.
The Death Star-like base, which the characters go out of their way to insist is not the Death Star, bares a familiar name, or it should to Star Wars devotees. The Starkiller name traces its origins all the way back to the very first draft of what would become the original Star Wars movie. In that version, the hero wasn’t named Luke Skywalker, he was Luke Starkiller!
Die hard fans and video gamers should also note that Starkiller was also the name of Darth Vader’s apprentice in The Force Unleashed video game series. After Disney purchased Lucasfilm, they declared all games non-canon prior to post-Disney buyout releases. Unfortunately then, Starkiller and The Force Unleashed are no longer canon.
2. The Damn Plot Itself
If, watching The Force Awakens, viewers felt an eerie sense of deja-vu, there’s a reason: the plot is exactly the same as A New Hope! Think about it: a piece of data (the Death Star plans/the Map) vital to the survival of a fringe group (the Rebellion/the Resistance) working to stop a fascist government (the Empire/First Order) is hidden in a droid (R2/BB-8) and lands on a desert planet (Tatooine/Jakku). A poor teenager (Luke/Rey) discovers said droid and escapes aboard the Millennium Falcon to return the droid to Princess/General Leia…
And it goes on like that. Reports claim that Michael Arndt’s early script actually had an original plot in which the original characters–namely Luke–have a more prominent role in the movie. When J.J. Abrams fired Arndt and took over script duties, he rewrote the story to directly mirror A New Hope.
1. BB-8’s Name
Legend has it George Lucas concocted R2-D2’s name from reel two, dialogue two during editing of American Graffiti. He noticed the abbreviation, and the name stuck. The Force Awakens provides the lovable BB-8, a droid with the same sassy attitude as R2. He’s even based on an early possible design for R2, and serves an identical function in the film (see above).
The origin of BB-8’s name has been the subject of speculation, but there are two logical candidates. One is the initials of producer Bryan Burk, who collaborates frequently with J.J. Abrams. The other, more likely germ: sound designer Ben Burtt. Burtt has worked on the Star Wars films since their inception, even taking up writing duties on the Droids animated series. He had good reason. Burtt developed the soundscapes of the Star Wars galaxy, most importantly that of R2-D2. He did the same as BB-8 whose name likely provides a subtle nod to the man who gave him a voice.