New photos from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and plot/character details emerge

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As its December 18th release date inches closer, we’re starting to get more and more stuff to whet people’s appetites for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There was the Korean TV spot for The Force Awakens the other day (with maybe 3 to 4 seconds of new footage), and now we’re getting some new images from Entertainment Weekly. The magazine’s fall movie preview features the new Star Wars film heavily, including some new images from the film.

The question at the center of the new film: Who is Luke Skywalker?

The latest Entertainment Weekly also has an interview with director J.J. Abrams, in which some of the plot is revealed. From the article:

The Empire has morphed into a junta known as The First Order, while X-Wing pilots like Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron now fly for a splinter group known as the Resistance. Princess Leia (Fisher) has come into possession of the lightsaber once possessed by her father, Darth Vader, and later lost by Luke (Hamill) when Vader separated him from his arm during that “join me” duel in The Empire Strikes Back.

The amount of screentime the Skywalker twins may get is still unclear, although Luke’s fate is obviously a key factor. Ford’s Han Solo, however, will be one of the leads, piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside his old pal Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew.) Among the newcomers, desert scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and runaway stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) will be running for their lives, with the rolling droid BB-8 trying to keep up. Eventually all five of them end up aboard that familiar starship.

On Team Dark Side is Darth Vader obsessive Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), The First Order’s merciless General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and chrome-armored officer Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

Abrams also revealed/confirmed a few things about villain Kylo Ren, the fella with the lightsaber that has the crossbar on it (causing many geeks consternation regarding its dangerously impractical design). Not only is his lightsaber homemade, but he’s also part of a mysterious group known as the Knights of Ren, a new addition to the Jedi/Sith mythos. From the article:

Abrams can confirm what many suspected: it’s a tool he crafted all by his lonesome. “The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” Abrams says.

But there’s another wrinkle to Kylo Ren. In typical Abrams fashion, the more the filmmaker reveals… the more questions arise.

It turns out — Kylo Ren isn’t the character’s real name. Or, at least, not the name he was born with.

Remember how we eventually learned that “Darth” is not a first name, but a kind of title? It appears the surname “Ren” is something similar.

“He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren,” Abrams says. But that’s as far as the writer-director will go.

Check out the image gallery, comment on Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren, and just hold onto your butts until December.

[via EW, EW, and EW]