(Source: The Latino Post)
Mysterious new black-painted X-Wing pops up on the film set in the UK, Millenium Falcon also seen

With Star Wars Episode VII fast approaching in Dec. 2015, The Walt Disney Comp. (DIS) and J.J. Abrams are hard at work filming.  Soon the public will receive the long-awaited first installment of the third trilogy of the beloved space opera.  

I. Filming -- Hard Work for Aging Actors

The aging cast from the original trilogy -- which George Walton Lucas, Jr. directed between 1976 and 1983 -- will return in the new film.  And they have been suffering for their craft, working to ready themselves for their return in the new trilogy.  Mark Richard Hamill (Luke Skywalker), 62 years old, has been enduring physical activity to reduce his growing girth.  According to friend Robert Englund:

Mark now – they've got Mark in the gym, because Mark's coming back as Luke Skywalker. They've got him doing his sit-ups.

And he even grew a pretty impressive beard, to boot.  Harrison Ford (Han Solo), age 72, reportedly literally broke a leg, after the hydraulic door of the Millennium Falcon fell on him.  And Carrie Frances Fisher (Princess Leia Skywalker) -- the youngest of the original crew at a spry 57 years old -- lost 40 pounds by May 2014 alone, having been ordered onto an aggressive workout and weight loss regiment.

Star Wars Ep. VII
(From the left) A trimmed down Mark Hamill poses with his new co-worker, Mickey (june 2014); Harrison Ford is engrossed in a chat with JJ Abrams (July 2014); and Carrie Fisher is out on the town (July 2014). [Image Source: David Roark/Disney Parks (leftmost); Greg Brennan (other two)]

Peter Mayhew (age 70) was hobbling about after agreeing to reprise his role as Chewbacca despite surgical repair to both of his knees last year.  Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), age 68, and Kenneth George "Kenny" Baker (R2-D2), age 80, have also been hard at work reprising their respective roles.

In recent months a number of other actors have also joined the growing cast filming progressed.

II. New Spaceships Include X-Wing in Black, Orange, and Chrome

As buzz has grown for the new film -- filmed in Abu Dhabi, Iceland, and Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, UK (the primary filming locaiton) -- much of the interest has focused on the storyline and iconic spaceships.

In July 2014 J.J. Abrams unveiled his reimagining of the X-Wing fighter, which traded Rogue Squadron's red-and-white for an icey blue-and-gray duo (the pilot uniform stayed the same old orange-and-white, though).

Star Wars: Black X-Wing
The new/old X-Wing in blue and grey [Image Source: Disney/YouTube]

That move was blasted by some fans, but J.J. Abrams successfully outgeeked them by showing that his design actually was faithful to the original design art form late in the planning phase of the original Star Wars movie (likely in late 1975 or early 1976).

Now more controversy is sure to erupt as aerial photos have revealed a intriguing new black-and-red X-Wing, plus an under-construction Millenium Falcon.  The new ships were first spotted by pilot Matthew Myatt, a simulation enginer for the Airbourne Aviaton Ltd. flight school/club near the filming site.  

Initially snapping photos of one of his school's planes from another plan, he spotted the odd crafts on the ground, which he at first mistook for real-life experimental aircraft, according to local media interviews.  He subsequently posted a picture of the Millenium Falcon to his account (@MAC_Popham) on Twitter Inc.'s (TWTR) micro-blogging platform. The Latino Post followed up, hiring investigators "Paul K, Brad3DLP, Longerfellow & Dr. Moose" to use a small hobbyist drone to scope the site out and snap some pictures.

These exclusive images show one of the previously unveiled blue-and-grey X-Wings...

Star Wars X-Wing (new)

There's one complete X-Wing of the blue-and-gray variety, but there's also several more 2D cutouts, which should give the appearance of multiple ships during the shoots.

Star Wars X-Wing cutouts

But even more interesting there is a single mysterious chrome, orange, and black X-Wing, as well.  It looks perfect for a Jedi turned to the "dark side", or maybe just one who wants to look bad**s.

Star Wars Black X-Wing

There's also a nice shot of the Millenium Falcon.  Looks like J.J. Abrams is sticking pretty closely to the original movie's design on this one.

Millenium Falcon

Here's all three craft in one frame:

Millenium Falcon

Here's one last shot showing the entire filming area.  

Missile silos wide

For those curious, these six "docking bay" like structures in Greenham Common, UK, were actually nuclear missile storage sites in the 1980s, but were decommissioned two decades ago.  A local history site describes:

Greenham Common has been, for most of its history, a valuable piece of common land and a shared sustainable resource for local farmers and cottagers. The last 70 years has seen a transformation of the common from being requisitioned for military use in Second World War and used as one of the main tactical bases for the D-Day offensive, to being a full scale nuclear airbase during the Cold War in 1980s. Since
2000 Greenham and Crookham Commons are protected under an Act of Parliament for the public to enjoy.

The Ministry of Defence decommissioned the airbase in the early 1990s and a number of proposals were put on the table including turning the site into a commercial airport and developing the whole area with housing. A group of concerned local residents and businessmen formed a coalition to find a positive solution about the future of the common. A charitable trust was formed - Greenham Common Trust - with the aim of preserving the majority of the common in perpetuity for the public and to create a sustainable project on the remaining site – the former military buildings - which would benefit local businesses, be a base for innovation and generate a sustainable charitable income for local charities and community organisations.

The images of the Millenium Falcon follow the Harrison Ford injury report and a J.J. Abrams teaser about the ship:

Star Wars teaser
[Image Source: JJ Abrams]

Here's a video of the filming, but we'd advise you not to watch it if you get motion sickness as the drone does a number of barrel rolls (and the camera goes with them).

It appears as if filming might have been going on while this footage was shot.

III. What About the Story?

The images don't tell too much else about the story, though, which takes place roughly 30 years after the events of The Return of the Jedi.


In the Star Wars fiction timeline (which is today considered by fans as canon, despite George Lucas not fully approving of it), this places the film around the time of the Yuuzhan Vong War and roughly ten years prior to the Second Galactic Civil War.  With some slight tweaking either story arc (which spawned multiple novels and comics) could be fodder for his script, assuming J.J. Abrams is somewhat sticking to the canon.

The storyline of the Second Galactic Civil War involves Han Solo and his (by then) wife Leia Solo being shocked by the fall of their eldest son, Jacen Solo to the dark side.  Ultimately, Jacen is killed by his sister, Jaina Solo.  That arc follows a tale of conflict and political intrigue that in some ways mirrors the original trilogy.

However, the fact that Chewbacca is alive hints that the Vong War will be the chosen storyline (as he dies during this conflict).  The Vong War also killed the Solos younger son, Anakin Solo, which in part led to Jacen Solo's fall to the dark side.

Yuuzhan Vong
Enhanced by extreme organ transplantation, biografting, and extreme genetic engineering a Yuuzhan Vong warrior is a deadly force.  One is pictured here wielding a living weapon staff. [Image Source: Dark Horse Comics]

The Vong are a species from another galaxy (a galaxy even farther, farther away?) who are, in some regards, extreme luddites refusing all mechanical and electrical constructs.  Instead they use advanced bioengineering to create living spaceships and weaponry.  

Driven by the religious zealotry over the views on the primacy of biological technology, they bring the New Republic to the brink of ruin, but ultimately are defeated when a living planet appears over the galactic capital of Coruscant.  Formed from a peace of the destroyed Vong homeworld, this planet ship defeats the Vong's largest force, leaving the New Republic to take care of the rest.


If there's one thing we know from the Star Trek movies (also directed by J.J. Abrams), it's that while he respects canon, he's not afraid to buck it or reinvent it at times to the chagrin of fans.  

That said, fans can at least take solace in that one of the film's main producers and the co-writer of the script was Lawrence Edward Kasdan.  Mr. Kasdan co-wrote the scripts for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.  He was uninvolved with the prequel trilogy.

Hey, fans, it could be worse.  It could be George Lucas getting creative.  Maybe J.J. Abrams isn't so bad, after all.

Sources: The Latino Review, @MAC_Popham on Twitter, Greenham Common History page

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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