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As a return to the Galaxy Far, Far Away looms ever closer, we take an in depth look at what to expect from the first entry in the third Star Wars trilogy.

WARNING: POTENTIALLY MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Episode VII is set 35 years after the destruction of the Second Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi and quite surprisingly, the Empire is still at large. Luke Skywalker hasn’t been seen for a significant period of time and is long since presumed dead. The Jedi Order remains extinct, while Leia will pick up the reigns as the major political leader of the newly instituted Galactic Republic, a role she inherits following the death of her predecessor. Han, has been retired for several years now, but no longer remains in possession of the Millenium Falcon.

John Boyega, one of the new faces this time around, is the son of Lando Calrissian who has enlisted as an Imperial soldier, namely, a Stormtrooper. The discovery of both Anakin & Luke’s original lightsaber (the one lost on Bespin), encourages Boyega’s character to turn his back on the Empire and begin the overall arc of the film, which is the search for Luke.

As we know, Luke isn’t dead at all. He’s been held captive on the Sith homeworld of Moraband (formerly Korriban) by a former apprentice of Darth Sidious and his student (Max von Sydow and Adam Driver, respectively). Driver’s character, or by his Sith title, Darth Ruin, is the true villain of Episode VII. Originally, Darth Ruin was a Sith Lord who lived thousands of years before the events of The Phantom Menace and is recognised as being the original founder of the of the Sith order. It remains to be seen whether this incarnation of Darth Ruin merely adopted the same title out of his respect, or that he has somehow become an physical embodiment of the spirit of the original Dark Lord. There’s also a connection to Darth Plagueis, the Master of Emperor Palpatine, who was able to control the midichlorians to create and prolong life involved here too.

Meanwhile, the Republic and Empire are currently in a state of Cold War revolving Moraband. The Republic believe that this planet is home to some kind of super weapon, however, they have no knowledge that the Sith have reemerged and are actually using the captive Luke as a conduit to power the weapon, which is in fact the planet itself.

We’ll also see on screen the return of Darth Vader, who will be utilised in a flashback scene used by Luke to describe the events that occurred following the end of Jedi; a flashback which will also include Billie Lourde (the real life daughter of Carrie Fisher) as Princess Leia. Oscar Isaac’s character is the one in possession of the Falcon, while Daisy Ridley, who is perhaps playing the most important role across the entire Sequel Trilogy, is the only Solo child.

So, that would appear to be a very slimmed down overview of what Episode VII will look like, minus the lowdown on the characters of Ridley, Isaac & Domnhall Gleeson, plus the whispered potential return of Emperor Palpatine which has recently been doing the rounds. Undoubtedly, we can’t take any of the above at true face value, we are after all hypothesising on leaks and reports relating to a film that doesn’t release until December 2015. That being said, I would be surprised to find that a significant portion of the above, if not all, is correct. However, do note that until we see visual evidence proving otherwise, we cant take any spoilers or speculation as gospel. What we can definitely confirm, following on set images that have been released by the Star Wars media team are; the Falcon and an upgraded X-Wing model will feature heavily, we will return to a sand based planet (Tatooine, perhaps?), the Empire still exists and that one character has a robotic cyborg arm.

Stay tuned for more and may the Force be with you.