Despite reports that a new trailer for The Force Awakens wouldn’t be seeing the light of the day until we get a lot closer to the movie’s December release date, there was still some hope that the plucky Star Wars fans who camped out outside of Comic-Con’s Hall H this weekend might get a peek of something new during the panel for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film. Sadly, it wasn’t to be; when Abrams and his co-panelists, producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan, rolled tape today, it wasn’t for a trailer, but a short behind-the-scenes featurette. And while the footage might have been very affecting—it apparently made famously stoic panel moderator Chris Hardwick cry—it didn’t give fans much new information, outside of confirming that the Simon Pegg cameo we were all expecting definitely happened. (No word on Daniel Craig the Stormtrooper, though.)
In fact, there wasn’t much news coming out of the panel at all; Abrams announced that the film is finished shooting and is now in editing, while Kennedy revealed that Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One will start production in about three weeks. A few character names were revealed—Domhnall Gleeson’s character is apparently an Imperial-villain-type called General Hux—but there weren’t any big reveals, no surprise castings or comments on rumors about who might be directing the as-yet-unattached Episode IX.
But if the panel lacked for concrete fan information, it was filled to the brim with grade-A fan service, with Abrams going out of his way to emphasize the movie’s focus on practical effects over CGI work, up to and including bringing out that camel creature —whose name,“Baba Joe,” scores a disappointingly low ‘3’ on the Star Wars Stupid Naming Scale—from the charity video he released last year. It didn’t stop there, though, with the director parading almost his entire cast out on the stage. First came the heroes, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega, who discussed their desert-running fitness regimens and Boyega’s nerdy enthusiasm for all things Comic-Con. Next came the villains, with Gleeson, Adam Driver, and Game Of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie all taking the stage.
Finally, Abrams brought his Star Wars veterans out, one by one: First Carrie Fisher, then Mark Hamill, and finally Harrison Ford, apparently well-rested and recovered from the plane crash he was involved in back in March. Unsurprisingly, the Comic-Con crowd lost its collective Bantha poodoo at seeing the trio together on the stage, trading banter and making self-deprecating jokes. (Ford even reportedly deployed one of his rare, once-per-decade press event smiles.) Then, Abrams announced that the entire panel was invited to a free Star Wars concert, with a cadre of stormtroopers arriving to escort fans to the event, hopefully with medics on hand to administer antidotes to anyone overdosing on all the pure, uncut nostalgia suddenly floating around.
UPDATE: And here’s the behind-the-scenes footage that was shown during the panel, complete with explosions, flamethrowers, and Simon Pegg declaring himself to be in heaven: