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'Star Wars' Episode VII new trailer teases backstories of Finn, Kylo Ren, more

A still image from the 'Star Wars: The

A still image from the 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.' Credit: YouTube

For fans who have been harvesting even the smallest bits of information about the seventh installment in George Lucas' sci-fi franchise, the new trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" offers another crop of clues.

The trailer premiered during ESPN's "Monday Night Football" game and served as the starting pistol in a race to secure advance tickets, which went on sale after the trailer aired.

By the following afternoon, the trailer had been viewed on YouTube more than 12.9 million times, and that count kept rising by the thousands per minute.

The trailer will confirm fans' speculation about several characters and story lines. One of the first figures we see is Daisy Ridley, the relatively unknown British actress who portrays Rey, a scavenger and loner. Her prominent placement suggests that director and co-writer J.J. Abrams has made her the film's main protagonist. If so, that would be a smart and culturally attuned move at a time when women are become increasingly visible -- and marketable -- at the box office.

"I was raised to do one thing," says Finn, the character portrayed by John Boyega, in the following sequence. "But I've got nothing to fight for." Well-informed fans won't be surprised to see Finn removing his Stormtrooper helmet -- his backstory was already well-known -- but later images show Finn becoming a good guy. We see him joining our heroes on the battlefield and even fighting one-on-one with the film's main villain, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, heard in a Vader-esque voice-over).

One central character who seems less prominent here is Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, a Resistance pilot. In fact, there are only three shots of him. Rey and Finn, often seen side by side, seem to be portrayed as a team.

For old-school "Star Wars" fans, the trailer's most enjoyable moment may come when Harrison Ford's Han Solo shows up. The once-cynical space smuggler is now cast in a role somewhat akin to Obi-wan Kenobi -- an old warrior whose adventures are so far in the past that they've become something like myths.

"It's true," Solo tells young Rey. "All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They're real."

The trailer also offers further confirmation that Abrams will be doing his best to please both modern-day viewers (the special effects and animation look seamless in a way that wasn't quite achievable in Lucas' day) and those who still love the charm of the older films (the machinery, costumes and landscapes all look like vintage "Star Wars").

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" arrives in theaters Dec. 18.


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