SDCC: The STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Panel Did Everything Right

Even Harrison Ford might have had a little something stuck in his eye.

It would be hard to capture the enthusiasm in Hall H during today’s Star Wars panel without automatically sounding hyperbolic, but it was a real thing. Even without thousands of people clapping their hands in anticipation of the panel’s beginning, you could feel a super-charged energy throughout.

The panel, of course, was excellent. They staggered panelists in a way that kept excitement going despite the fact that not a whole lot of bombshell stuff was going to happen. Moderator Chris Hardwick first brought out Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Lawrence Kasdan. After introducing the incredible practical alien Baba Jo (I don’t know how to spell the name, but it’s the alien we saw standing behind JJ Abrams in an early Unicef video), Abrams introduced the following behind the scenes video:

Behind the scenes videos are not meant to be this incredible! We were told no new footage would be shown, but this very nearly counts. Not only is it filled with great moments, the video also focuses almost 100% percent on the film’s usage of practical effects, which was something the early portion of the panel heavily pushed as well.

After that, Hardwick introduced John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac for a few moderator questions followed by a brief audience Q&A. This was pretty much how the rest of the panel was structured. The good guys were followed by Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, and Gwendoline Christie. When their turn was over, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher came out. And when everyone was already done having whatever orgasmic metaphor you want to employ here, Harrison Ford ambled onto the stage. It was pretty awesome.

As far as new info goes, we didn’t get much, as you might expect. While taking bout their characters, Adam Driver claimed his villain, Kylo Ren, feels a moral justification for his evil actions, while Domhnall Gleeson felt his character, General Hux (who we also saw a photo of - he’s got a real Grand Moff Tarkin vibe to him), is just a straight up evil type guy.

Gleeson also let slip that his base is called the Starkiller Base, which is super super cool.

That would have been plenty of panel for everyone. But it got way better than that when Abrams announced that we were all invited to an exclusive Star Wars music concert behind the convention. We were led by Stormtroopers to the show, and people handed us free lightsabers once we got there. Abrams introduced the cast again (Ford entered with a limp, using his lightsaber as a cane), and the concert kicked off. It was, I don’t know how else to say this, really fucking badass.

It’s getting harder and harder to be cynical about Star Wars (I assume; I stopped after that second trailer). Today’s panel wasn’t really about big bombshells or headlines. It was way more about how much these people enjoy being a part of this and how hard Kathleen Kennedy, JJ Abrams, and Lawrence Kasdan are working to make sure this is a film people see because they love it rather than just because it’s Star Wars. We’ve all been burned by Star Wars anticipation before, and this movie could still be awful. But it really feels like a lot of sincere effort is going into making it great. I’m not sure what more we could ask for.