15 Big Questions Left Unanswered By Star Wars: The Force Awakens

By  · Published on December 18th, 2015

Millions of people are going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend, and a majority of them aren’t diehard fans with knowledge of every character, planet and event that they’ve seen in the Star Wars movies, let alone could read about elsewhere. Most of us don’t know the details of what’s been going on in the Galaxy since the end of Return of the Jedi. Most of us haven’t paid attention to everything rumored or leaked or officially divulged about the new installment ahead of its release this week. Most of us just want to go to the theater, sit back and enjoy the show.

Afterward, we understandably have questions. Many of which are probably easily answered by fans who’ve read the new canon books or have other information. Some of which will likely be revealed as the trilogy continues. And a few of which will likely remain complete mysteries. God knows there are a lot of those already with this franchise. The following questions are a mix of all three, but for most of us it doesn’t matter what category each fits into. They simply concern things in The Force Awakens that have no explanation, for at least most viewers, and we want answers.

1. Should we know who Lor San Tekka is?

The character isn’t named in the movie, but Max von Sydow’s briefly appearing character is credited as “Lor San Tekka.” What is known in the context of the movie is he’s an ally to the Resistence and is apparently very familiar with Kylo Ren’s true identity, and with his family. It seemed maybe the old man was an aged version of a character we’ve seen before. If that’s the case, it’s not yet been let out of the bag. There’s a chance he actually will remain just some minor character who helped start the plot along, and his backstory reportedly involving him being a vicar of the Church of the Force is not important. Now I could ask what the Church of the Force is but that’s already brought us out of the movie enough.

2. Why hasn’t the Stormtrooper armor improved in the last 30 years?

Stormtroopers are defined by their uniform, and that uniform is not just something to conceal the identities of, and pretty much eliminate individual identity from, the drones who serve the First Order (and previously the Empire). But the clunky uniform should also be armor that protects them from being easily shot or lightsabered. Sure, they’re treated as disposable pieces of an army, but that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to be so vulnerable. They’re raised and trained to be soldiers, so they are assets. Make their suits blast proof!

3. Why is Captain Phasma so bad at her job?

Maybe the First Order isn’t very focused on maintaining those assets. After all, they’re not very well trained, and their superior, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), is very bad at screening them for loyalty, before and after they’re thrown into important missions. She let one of her Stormtroopers, “Finn” (John Boyega), slip through her control and not just perform treason but do so by helping the First Order’s current most prized prisoner escape. Later, she was easily captured and then presumably thrown into a garbage compactor – which everyone seems to be in agreement is pretty much her Sarlacc pit. Perhaps one day she and Boba Fett find each other and realize they’re meant to fall in love, a union of cool-looking yet worthless characters.

4. Where did Poe Dameron go after crashing on Jakku?

Nobody thinks Poe (Oscar Isaacs) really died during his and Finn’s crash on Jakku, so why does the movie act like we might? Never mind, don’t answer that part. Worse is that when he landed on Jakku, he obviously didn’t try very hard to locate his little buddy, BB-8, despite the fact that he promised the droid he would and it was important that he locate the special puzzle piece MacGuffin he was responsible for. Instead, he retreats to the Resistance base and waits to hear, along with everyone else, if someone reports a sighting of the ball of cuteness. It’s also just a shame that we don’t get to follow the character more, maybe as a side plot. He’s so much fun in his scene with Kylo Ren, then he’s abandoned a while and when he returns for the battle against Starkiller Base he’s suddenly not that interesting.

5. How likely was it for Han Solo and Chewbacca to show up so quickly after the Millennium Falcon got into space?

What a weird and miraculous coincidence it seemed for it to be Han and Chewie pulling in the Millennium Falcon almost immediately once Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn and BB-8 are safe in space. Eventually we hear that the duo has been searching for the ship and were able to track it once it started moving, but why couldn’t they also so easily locate it while it was sitting on Jakku? Even with the explanation, it was one of the most difficult to believe story beats. At least that quickly.

6. How has Han never tried out Chewie’s bowcaster before?

Another hard to believe thing with Han and Chewie is that Han has never tried his friend’s awesome weapon until their battle on Takodana. Of course, he loves it and wants to use it more. Actually, maybe Chewie never let Han use it for that reason. But maybe they could have gotten another one. They’re clearly powerful and accurate shots, so everyone should want one.

7. Was that nurse flirting with Chewie?

Obviously this isn’t an important question for the plot of The Force Awakens, but it’s an important question for the whole Saga and Chewie’s role in it. He has never gotten a lot of respect in these movies, from his being denied a medal after the Battle of Yavin (in Star Wars) through all the name calling and being undervalued and taken for granted at every turn, to his primal hunger shaming on Endor (in Return of the Jedi). Finally he’s acknowledged as a hero by this nurse. Whatever her name is, she’s one of the best new characters of the franchise for that.

8. Why does C-3PO have a red arm?

Actually, do any of us really care? It’s probably got a story behind it, and we’ll probably hear it at some point. Or maybe it’s just in some back story book somewhere. J.J. Abrams has been quoted as saying it’s not significant other than to show that the droid has been through something in the last 30 years, the same way the original trilogy characters have aged and are now grey or wrinkled or have a new hairstyle or jacket or whatever.

9. Did Han and Leia name their son Ben after Obi-Wan Kenobi?

If so, that’s weird, because Obi-Wan Kenobi’s name is Obi-Wan Kenobi, not Ben Kenobi. That was his hideout name (a dumb one given he used his real last name, but that’s another movie). It’d be like them naming their son not Anakin (as old canon saw them do) but “Vader.” It’s not an idea new to this movie, as the old canon had a son of Luke’s named Ben Skywalker, also after Kenobi’s alias. Still, they should have named the boy Obi-Wan Solo.

10. Why would anyone trust Kylo Ren as a significant member of their ranks?

Speaking of Ben Solo (Adam Driver), aka Kylo Ren, what an incompetent and bad-tempered brat. Yet he’s somehow one of the main leaders of the First Order. He keeps making wrong decisions, keeps letting things be personal and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is understandably frustrated with Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) being on the guy’s side at every turn, even though it’s going to be disastrous for the cause. His Jedi training was also supposedly a bust, but Snoke is said to consider Ren a perfect apprentice due to his mix of Dark and Light powers. That’s in one of the books. But that can’t be the case since Snoke clearly wants him to be fully faithful to the Dark Side. As a character, Ren is an interesting villain because of his baggage and brattiness. However, he’s one of the worst people for anyone in this movie to trust as a leader or a fighter.

11. How does Kylo Ren fit his perfectly coiffed big hair under his mask?

He does look cool, though, especially when he takes off that duck-bill-looking mask and is just Adam Driver with big hair. How does he not have serious helmet head when he takes that thing off? And why does he take it off, anyway? Or why does he have it? The latter probably to mimic his hero/grandfather Darth Vader, but otherwise it’s not necessary.

12. Is Supreme Leader Snoke really that large?

There are giants in the Star Wars Galaxy? Not just monsters but giants who are real characters? Or does Snoke just project himself as a giant when Skyping with his minions? He’s clearly met with them in person before, too, so that would be a strange choice. Also, if he’s not really that large and it’s just a kind of “Wizard of Oz” gimmick, then he’s going to get some laughs when he shows up for real in these movies and he’s normal size, or worse, miniature.

13. Does Starkiller Base move?

Starkiller Base is a new (?) Death Star-like superweapon that’s much bigger because it’s no moon but a planet – literally an ice planet turned into a weapon. But is it fitted with an engine to make it mobile? In the movie it seems to just be a stationary planet with a weapon build into it. One that would be hard to aim if attached to a stationary body, even if a revolving one. And because it needs to suck up all the energy from a sun to charge up, it would have to be able to move in order to get close to other stars, aka replace its batteries. It must move and we just don’t see it move. It must.

14. Why was it so easy to destroy yet another superweapon?

Still, even if mobile, Starkiller Base’s superweapon is pretty dumb. Yeah, it’s big and menacing and can wipe out whole star systems rather than mere planets at a time, but that solar power thing has to be a real pain in the ass. It certainly takes too long to become ready to fire. The Death Star probably could have just traveled to a number of planets in that targeted star system separately and destroy them individually in the time it took Starkiller to be ready to fire. Also, yet again the bad guys build a superweapon that is way too easily destroyed. Not as easy as the Death Stars, but still pretty damn easy.

15. Is Rey the daughter of Luke Skywalker?

Finally, here’s the biggest question of all. Who are Rey’s parents? Is Luke her father? Is she another child of Han and Leia and Han doesn’t know about her because he bailed before she was born? Is she Leia’s daughter with Lando? Because he had eyes for her. Could she be just another person strong with the Force who isn’t part of the Skywalker family? Whatever her heritage, it is believed that she was dropped off on Jakku similar to the way Luke was dropped off on Tatooine as a baby, to put her in hiding. And Lor San Tekka would be the old man living nearby tasked with keeping an eye on her, like Obi-Wan for Luke. It is weird if she is a Skywalker that we would get the revelation that Ren is Han and Leia’s kid but nothing on her parentage. Just tell us, since it seems obvious. Or maybe that’s what we’re supposed to think. Hopefully it’s a red herring and she’s just actually a uniquely awesome character in her own right, with no special genes. Like Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, whom she kind of sounds like.

Next: Saying Goodbye to Star Wars Canon

We’re sure to have more questions as we think more about the movie and probably as we see it a few more times. You probably questions of your own, which we hope you’ll add to the discussion below.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.