J.J. Abrams Cut 'Star Wars' Original Trilogy References From 'The Force Awakens'

Ever since the Vanity Fair spread on Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived on Star Wars Day this past Monday, a whole new set of details have been confirmed and revealed. We officially know that Gwendoline Christie is the chrome stormtrooper of The First Order, and Adam Driver is the new bad guy Kylo Ren. Meanwhile, Lupita Nyong'o plays a motion-capture character named Maz Kanata, an alien pirate.

And now director J.J. Abrams is pulling back the curtain on the production of Episode VII ever so slightly. The filmmaker recently opened about Star Wars original trilogy references as well as filling in the 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Thankfully, it sounds like they kept their heads on straight to avoid fan service winks and nods.

Speaking to Vanity Fair (via The Playlist), Abrams said that the script had many more references to the original Star Wars trilogy than they deemed necessary in the end. So they had to pull the reins back a bit:

"...we've obviously had a lot of time [during the development process] to talk about what's happened outside of the borders of the story that you're seeing. So there are, of course, references to things, and some are very oblique so that hopefully the audience can infer what the characters are referring to. We used to have more references to things that we pulled out because they almost felt like they were trying too hard to allude to something. I think that the key is—and whether we've accomplished that or not is, of course, up to the audience—but the key is that references be essential so that you don't reference a lot of things that feel like, oh, we're laying pipe for, you know, an animated series or further movies. It should feel like things are being referenced for a reason."

So not only are there fewer nods to the original trilogy, but they also didn't want to go overboard with setting up Episode VIII, even though Rian Johnson is hard at work on the sequel already. That's a good idea considering the original trilogy didn't have much in the vein of set up for the sequels. Star Wars has no indication that there were more stories to come other than the survival of Darth Vader after the destruction of the first Death Star. And The Empire Strikes Back only takes Han Solo prisoner and leaves Luke Skywalker to ponder the identity of his father. So there aren't any Marvel Studios-level plans laying the groundwork for countless other projects in the future.

Honestly, I'm glad a Star Wars superfan like Abrams is aware enough to know not to go overboard when it comes to pleasing fans. However, I'm very interested to see what kind of references are made in order to fill in the 30-year timeline gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Surely there will be some kind of allusion to the Battle of Jakku, which fans will be able to play out in Star Wars Battlefront if they're so inclined. And we'll likely learn what Han Solo and Chewbacca have been up to for the past few decades. Maybe we'll also find out how Darth Vader's helmet came to be preserved. But beyond that, there's plenty of other information to learn about the past 30 years in the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives on December 18th this winter.