After attempting to get every electronic in the entirety of Hall H turned off, the Star Wars panel at Comic-Con 2015 finally began about 10 minutes late on Friday night. Chris Hardwick was introduced as moderator and things kicked off quickly.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, and Lawrence Kasdan all took the stage first.
"Star Wars is 100 percent dependent on the fans in this room since 1976. ... We wanted to say thank you to all of you," Kennedy said, acknowledging the fans who started lining up for Friday's Hall H panels on Wednesday night at 8pm.
After introducing the other panelists, Kasdan talked about how he was brought on to help on the script. He said he was only ever part of the Star Wars family because of George Lucas. While he talked, pictures of TIE Fighters, Poe Dameron, and other quick shots of scenes from the film were shown.
"When they got JJ i went berzerk," Kasdan said. "I thought he was the funniest, most talented, most perfect choice for this movie."
Abrams talked about his own lifelong fandom, saying, "There is nothing normal about getting to write a movie with Lawrence Kasdan! There is nothing normal about getting to work with Kathleen Kennedy!"
The fully-puppeted and realized "Baba Jo" figure from Abrams' on-set omaze charity video was brought out on stage. It walked across, and bowed to applause. The focus stayed on practical effects for awhile, with still shots of various aliens and droids and creatures being shown on screen, with humans interacting directly with them.
When it came to influences, J.J.Abrams tried to keep it simple. "We tried to sit down and ask ourselves, 'what feels right?' The only real mandate we had was what delights us. We treated the films, especially 4, 5, and 6, we treated those as canon."
"When you're directing a scene that's on the Millennium Falcon, that doesn't make the scene good," he explained when asked about the pressures of the film. "I mean, it's bitching to film on the Millennium Falcon... But it has to be fun, it has to be scary, the power that has come before is infectious and it's so deep ... but we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean? Why are we doing this?"
After that initial part of the panel, footage was shown, but not direct scenes from the movie. Instead, a "making of" reel put together specifically for Comic-Con aired on the big screen at Hall H.
In the sequence, many quick shots of vehicles, more practical droids and creatures, and locations, were shown. A crashed TIE fighter in the desert planet of Jakku, a stormtrooper walking down a hallway with a prisoner, Abrams speaking to the cast on the first day of shooting, a flametrooper shown in action, Peter Mayhew, Simon Pegg, Oscar Isaac (who said "you'll be able to feel the love coming off the screen"), Harrison Ford, and the Millennium Falcon highlighted the footage.
After that, members of the cast took the stage, starting with the three new stars John Boyega "Finn", Daisy Ridley "Rey", and Oscar Isaac "Poe Dameron". Boyega walked the floor in a stormtrooper helmet, evocative of what we have seen him in during the trailers released so far.
Boyega and Ridley talked about the heat of the desert, especially in thick costuming. Ridley had to work out a lot for the role due to the action and stunts.
Abrams worked to make the cast diverse, and when they were working on the story and script, really didn't have specific races in mind for characters like Finn and Rey. "We didn't write the character of Finn to be any color. We didn't write the character of Rey to be any color," he told a fan.
He talked about how much the story and the characters mean to them. "These are characters that we love. We're just working really hard to make a movie and tell a story."
After that, the dark side of the film came out, with Gwendoline Christie "Captain Phasma," Adam Driver "Kylo Ren," and Domhnall Gleeson taking the stage. They revealed a bit about their characters, including Gleeson's character name, General Hux, and the First Order's main base, called "Starkiller base," which got a huge reaction from the major fans in the crowd.
Driver made a point to say that they never played the Dark Side characters as "evil," and really how they look at the self-righteousness of the Resistance characters as being more evil than they.
The self-described "legacy players" came on stage next, with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill joining the panel. "It was a little bit like before, but we looked more melted this time," Fisher deadpanned.
"It's very moving for me. It's almost like an out-of-body experience. When I see it put together, it's not me; it's Luke. But I've never taken it for granted," Hamill said of constantly meeting fans everywhere he goes.
Harrison Ford took the last chair on the stage, and Hall H erupted into chaos. The relatively reclusive actor said coming back onto a Star Wars set "should've felt ridiculous," but once he was there, "I will tell you that it felt great.
"The company was the right company. The director was the right director. Larry [Kasdan] wrote us a wonderful story. I was proud and grateful to once again be involved."
When asked about where they thought their characters would end up (prior to working on the film,) Hamill had the response that all Luke Skywalker fans were probably thinking.
"When you find out that the only woman you really fell head over heels with is your sister, it's telling you something. I had a feeling I'd end up like Sir Alec in the first one living out in the desert ... No human contact just droids!" He looked at Ford and said, "We were both after her!" to which Ford replied, with his hand on Hamill's shoulder, "how many times can I say I'm sorry?"
As for Ford, he "never expected it to come back to bless me rather than haunt me. I was very gratified when I read the script because I read something that was really remarkable. Some very intriguing developments."
With that, the panel came to a close, moving the entirety of Hall H to another location for a live Star Wars concert.
Additional reporting by Brandon Davis