Today in The Force Awakens: Why Leia isn’t a Jedi, lightsabers coming to ESPN

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J.J. Abrams on why Leia hasn’t become a Jedi. “It’s never too late,” he said, but “it was simply a choice that she made” to lead the Resistance. We will see her Force sensitivity in play again; it’s “an intrinsic piece of her character.”

→ ESPN will air ‘The Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel’ on December 15th at 7 p.m.

→ “It’s like we’re collaborating over this vast public field,” Oscar Isaac says of his imagined backstory for Poe becoming canon.

Vulture runs through the Journey to The Force Awakens books and stories. Some minor errors (Poe is namedropped in Shattered Empire #2) but overall a decent roundup.

→ Spoiler corner, book edition: Jedi Bibliothek has screenshots of picture book leaks and the beginning of Finn’s tale in Before the Awakening.

→ Spoiler corner, Hasbro edition: A Rey action figure featuring her second outfit (which we first saw yesterday) has a pretty hefty spoiler on the packaging. (It’s not her last name.)

→ Also: A new BB-8 poster, a few of John Boyega’s impressions and Anthony Breznican on the Millennium Falcon.

Today in The Force Awakens: Isaac on the Resistance, Captain Phasma was originally a man

tfa-poe-bigOscar Isaac talks to io9 about the Resistance, Poe’s Shattered Empire backstory (though it’s worth noting he was already old enough to be talking – he’s mentioned in #2 – before his parents settled on Yavin) and how the X-wings have evolved.

→ You can listen to both yesterday’s press conference(s) thanks to Full of Sith. Or watch the videos (1, 2.)

→ Captain Phasma was originally a man, Vulture reports, and the backlash to the initial casting may have played a part in the gender swap. That said, anything that saved us from Benedict Cumberbatch is fine by me.

→ Clutch your pearls, because J.J. Abrams talked midi-chlorians with /Film.

→ Droid tales: Anthony Daniels get profiled by Vulture, while CNN talks to the BB-8 designers about the droid and his adventures on set.

→ On Twitter, Greg Grunberg confirms his action figure and his character name.

→ Everyone wants their trailer on Star Wars! We know X-Men: Apocalypse will be there, but now The Hollywood Reporter says Star Trek Beyond will be attached as well.

Today in The Force Awakens: Meet the planets

tfa-c1-01-falcon-castleEmpire today revealed the names of three planets from The Force Awakens. Takodana looks to be the jungle world where Maz Kanata’s castle is. D’Qar may be the home of the Resistance Base. The third, Hosnian Prime, is a mystery, though a Hosnian system was mentioned in Lost Stars.

As for a fourth location, copies of Empire are out in the wild, and there is a map which contains a Starkiller Base Origin Point. (It moves! Shit.) There’s some speculation floating around about the Base’s origin perhaps being Ilum. But why is Rakata Prime, a planet that apparently originates in Knights of the Old Republic, on the map? Could it be TFA’s Dantooine, a planet that gets mentioned but never seen, or will it meet a more sinister fate?

(For what it’s worth, Pablo says the map was created for The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, one of the December 18th releases.)

→ Mike Cooper at Eleven-ThirtyEight figures out just how much of The Force Awakens we’ve seen. Today’s spot brings it up to 5:43 minutes, so please calm down about being ‘spoiled’ by officially released footage.

→ Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican talks about BB-8 in the first of four videos. (Nothing here really struck me as anything we don’t already know, but if you’re not glued to the internet, there may be something here for you.)

John Boyega hasn’t seen The Force Awakens yet, while Gwendoline Christie would like to go dancing as Captain Phasma.

→ Google will now translate Aurebesh, because why not.

Today in The Force Awakens: It’s officially PG-13

A new Poe Dameron image from Empire. This looks to be part of the scene we saw filmed in SDCC's behind-the-scenes reel.
A new Poe Dameron image from Empire. This looks to be part of the scene we saw being filmed in the behind-the-scenes reel from SDCC.
The Force Awakens is rated PG-13 for “sci-fi action violence,” per filmratings.com. It’s only the second Star Wars to be rated above a PG, after Revenge of the Sith – although to be fair, the PG-13 rating didn’t even exist until 1984. (And I personally doubt this one will have anything to match extra crispy Anakin.)

→ Box office tracking estimates for the film came out today, and they are, as you might expect, pretty nuts. Oh, and it’s selling a lot of stuff.

→ If you really love hyperbole, Entertainment Weekly wants you to start thinking about The Force Awakens’ Oscar chances. Uhh, okay guys.

→ Yet another featurette, this time on BB-8, is coming to the Disney Channel on Sunday. Looking a bit further ahead, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will be among the guests on Graham Norton’s Christmas show.

BB-8’s gender is still up for debate

tfa-t4-08-bb8sees3b

Both Artoo and Threepio have been ‘he’ from the start, but it seems the jury may still be out on the new addition. Is BB-8 a girl droid or a boy droid?

During the design phase, it was up for debate whether this character would have a male or female personality. “I’m still not sure, dare I say, whether BB-8 is male or female,” [Neal Scanlan, the head of The Force Awakens creature shop] says. “BB-8 was female in our eyes. And then he or she became male. And that’s all part of the evolution, not only visually, but in the way they move, how they hold themselves.”

So far, pretty much everyone involved with the film, from Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams on down, has been calling BB-8 a he. Yes, it may be silly that this is even an issue, but that’s fandom for you.

As for the droid’s actual personality:

“We always imagined BB-8 as being quite manipulative,” says Scanlan. “I think he knows he’s cute. He knows that he can win people over. And he uses that like children do to get his own way. In this film, he has a very important mission that he has to accomplish and so he uses his personality, his coyness, and all of those things.”

Maybe the ‘BB-8 is evil’ camp has been onto something all along?