Who Got Luke's Lightsaber

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Since Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced as part of a brand new trilogy for the series, it’s been advertised with a generous spoonful of nostalgia, from the casting of old actors to the revelation that the new villain Kylo Ren is kind of a Darth Vader fanboy. A new snippet of footage released today includes another such tidbit: the sight of Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber in the hands of the new hero Finn (John Boyega):

There has been an awakening... #StarWars #TheForceAwakens

A video posted by Star Wars (@starwars) on

It’s rare that a 15-second Instagram clip sets the internet aflame.

But any tidbit of Star Wars news is enough to get tongues wagging, and there’s certainly something stirring about seeing these pop-culture totems in the hands of new actors. The last time we saw Luke’s blue lightsaber, it tumbled into the abyss when Vader chopped off his hand in The Empire Strikes Back; it seems its recovery will play into the plot of The Force Awakens, set thirty years after the original trilogy.

The clip also includes a glimpse of the mighty First Order (the updated Stormtroopers who serve as the film’s villainous cannon fodder), and the heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) hanging out with soccer ball droid BB-8. But seeing a saber in Finn’s hands is pretty stirring. With his Star Trek reboot, director J.J. Abrams made sure to pass the franchise torch to a new set of actors by revering what had come before, and it seems The Force Awakens will track along similar lines. With four months remaining before its Christmas release, expect many more brief clips and images, and many more respectful nods to what came before.