By now, you’ve probably seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens at least once in theaters. The film is full of references and homages to the original Star Wars trilogy, and there are even a few rare references to the prequel trilogy in there as well. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the latest in a long series of films attempting to revive old franchises, like Terminator: Genisys, Robocop, Star Trek, and more. The difference, of course, is that none of those films even come close to the cultural landmark that is Star Wars.
The expectation and fan anticipation riding on The Force Awakens were huge, and to answer that call director J.J. Abrams and Disney filled the movie full of easter eggs and fan service. Some of the references were obvious, but others were hidden a little deeper. Some of the easter eggs refer to previous entries in the Star Wars film series, while others refer to the newly established Expanded Universe, which includes books, tv shows, and comics that tie into the franchise.
Let us know if there were references we missed, or things you would like to see referenced in the next Star Wars film.
10. Clone Army
Early on in the film, when General Hux and Kylo Ren are discussing Finn’s betrayal and desertion, General Hux asserts that his troopers are trained from birth to be obedient. Kylo Ren then suggests that perhaps The First Order should start using clone troopers. This is a reference to the prequel trilogy, when the Republic used clone troopers who were specifically bred to be obedient. Whether or not clones are still being used anywhere in the Star Wars universe at this point is unclear. The line is a rare reference to the prequel trilogy, which is interesting because for the most part it seems like Disney and J.J. Abrams were doing their best to distance the new film from the unpopular prequels.
9. Bazine Netal
When Rey and Finn arrive at Maz Katana’s watering hole on Takodana with Han and Chewie, a woman dressed in a black latex bodysuit informs the First Order about their presence. We never see the character again in the film, but anyone who has read the movie tie-in ebook Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon will know that the woman’s name is Bazine Netal, and she is a professional spy and assassin. In the ebook, we learn that she is a master of disguise and intrigue. She was undoubtedly hanging out on Takodana scoping out new jobs and working for the highest bidder. Hopefully we will see more of her in Episode VIII.
8. Finn’s Number
Before Poe Dameron gives Finn his new name, he is known as FN-2187. His number is a reference to Star Wars Episode IV. Princess Leia’s cell number on board the Death Star was 2187. Her cell number was inspired by 21-87, a Canadian abstract collage film created in 1963 by Arthur Lipsett. The short film was a major inspiration for George Lucas, and it had a major influence on the aesthetic style of Star Wars and many of Lucas’ other films. After Finn and Poe escape together, only First Order characters like General Hux, Kylo Ren, and Captain Phasma refer to him by his original designation, but it is a cool nod to the original influences of Star Wars.
7. The Downed Star Destroyer
When we first see Rey, she is scavenging for parts in an old Imperial Star Destroyer that crashed in the desert. Though it is never explained in the film, the story of the Battle of Jakku is told in the young adult novel Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. The book follows two friends who grew up on an outer rim planet during the early years of the Empire, and joined the Imperial Academy together. The final scenes of the novel take place on Jakku in a final climactic battle between the Empire and the rebels, about a year after the events of Return of the Jedi. The rebels win the battle, and a Star Destroyer crashes to the surface of the planet in the process.
When Rey and Finn are on board the Millennium Falcon and are trying to repair it, Finn picks up a mechanical orb and looks at it for a moment before discarding it over his shoulder. What Finn didn’t know is that the orb he threw away was the same training remote that Luke used in Episode IV when Obi-Wan Kenobi was training him to feel the Force. It’s a small moment, but a huge nod to fans of the original film. In all the promotional materials for The Force Awakens, we were led to believe that Finn was actually the jedi. The fact that the orb meant nothing to him should have been the first clue to first-time watchers that he is not actually force sensitive. If Rey had touched the orb, she might have sensed what it was, and who had used it before, just like she did with Luke’s lightsaber.
5. Trash Compactor
Once Han, Chewie, and Finn make their way into the Starkiller Base, Finn’s plan is to capture Captain Phasma, and force her to turn off the shields so that Poe’s x-wing squadron can get in and destroy the weapon. After she turns off the shields and they no longer need her, Finn asks what they should do with Phasma. Han suggests that they put her in a trash compactor. This is yet another clever reference to Episode IV, when Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewie all ended up trapped in a trash compactor, only to be saved at the last minute by R2-D2.
4. Rey’s X-Wing Helmet
In the beginning of the film, we learn a little bit about Rey and her life on Jakku. She lives in a downed Imperial AT-AT walker, and she has an old rebel x-wing pilot helmet that she seems to have saved mostly as a curiosity. This is not only a reference to the iconic helmets that x-wing pilots like Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles wore in the original trilogy, but is also a nod to Rey’s own prowess as a pilot. In the movie tie-in novel Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka, we learn that Rey learned how to fly using an old scavenged flight simulator, and that she has only ever actually flown a ship a couple times.
3. Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb
When the heroes of the film team up with the Resistance to make a plan to take down the Starkiller Base, Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb are there at the table. Both characters were major players in the rebellion in the original trilogy, so even though their roles were relatively small in The Force Awakens, it was cool to see them still around. Arguably, Admiral Ackbar was a more important character than Han Solo in the original films. He was one of the main leaders of the rebellion, while Han Solo was just some yahoo with a fast ship and a crush on the princess.
2. Starkiller Base
The name of the First Order’s superweapon is a reference to early drafts of Star Wars: Episode IV. When the first Star Wars film was being made, Luke Skywalker’s name was Luke Starkiller. The film’s script went through many drafts and changes. Some scenes were even filmed using the name Starkiller, but 20th Century Fox wanted a name that was less violent, so Lucas changed it to Skywalker and they had to reshoot some scenes. That wasn’t the first change the main character of Star Wars went through either. At one point the main character’s name was Annikin Starkiller, and he was imagined as a rogue-like character with more in common with Han than Luke. In 2013, the original script was adapted into an 8-issue comic book series from Dark Horse Comics called The Star Wars.
1. Yoda and Obi-Wan
On Takodana, when Rey finds Luke’s lightsaber and touches it, she experiences a Force vision with glimpses of the past and future. Fans who were paying close attention could hear Yoda’s voice in the background early in the vision, played by Frank Oz, who played Yoda in the first six films. At the end of the vision, a voice says, “Rey, these are your first steps.” The voice belongs to Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the coolest part is that the voice for that line was provided by both Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan in the prequel trilogy, and Alec Guinness, who played him in the original trilogy. The first part of the line, (“Rey”) was lifted from an old Alec Guinness film, and the second part was recorded in a studio by Ewan McGregor. The combination of the two actors’ voices is a beautiful homage to both the original trilogy and the prequels.