The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens marked a pivotal entry in the galaxy far, far away, as it not only served as the first sequel to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, but it also marked the first theatrical narrative that wasn't directly developed by series creator George Lucas, having sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. While some fans were apprehensive about what this could mean for the series, others were immensely excited to see how J.J. Abrams would put a Star Wars film together, especially due to some fans being disappointed with Lucas' work on the prequel trilogy and their reliance upon boundary-pushing visual effects as opposed to the more practical approach to the original films.
Abrams was no stranger to intergalactic adventures, having already delivered audiences two Star Trek films, almost making his selection as a director seem like the most obvious choice to usher in a new generation of Star Wars stories. In this regard, some audiences were actually apprehensive about Abrams' perspective on the saga, leaving them worried that they would see him repeating too many of his familiar visual tricks.
Throughout the film, it's hard to deny the impact of seeing beloved characters grace the screen, making any shot featuring Leia, Han, or Chewbacca immediately engaging, though these sequences were only a taste of the visual riches the film has to offer. Regardless of any narrative directions the film explored, The Force Awakens struck the right balance of offering contemporary filmmaking sensibilities with familiar iconography, resulting in a number of shots that are just as striking when removed from the context of the narrative.
From depictions of the crumbled Galactic Empire to glimpses into a conflicted nature of a character, scroll down to see our picks for the 15 best shots from Star Wars: The Force Awakens!