The frenzy surrounding the newest film in the Star Wars series is about to hit its peak with the movie's Dec. 18 premiere, and fans are still relatively in the dark about what story, exactly, the film will tell.
Fans have gleaned as much info as they can about the plot from the hints contained in the trailers (and they've come up with some pretty bizarre theories about what the next film might hold), but the plot is still basically a secret.
Some actors from past Star Wars films are set to return in this next chapter, so at the very least it seems that characters from previous installments will reappear in the new film, which is set "about 30 years" after where 1983's Return of the Jedi ended, according to the official Star Wars website.
Harrison Ford will reprise his role as pilot Han Solo. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ford said Solo's "development is consistent with the character, and there are emotional elements which have occasioned his growth," in the new film.
Carrie Fisher will also return as the former Princess Leia, now known as General Leia. According to Entertainment Weekly, the Leia of the new film will be "a little more battle weary, a little more brokenhearted."
Mark Hamill will return, presumably to play heroic Jedi Luke Skywalker, although so far, the character has been conspicuously absent from the trailers and teasers for the upcoming film.
Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels will be back as R2-D2, Chewbacca and C-3PO respectively.
The film will also feature some new heroes, including John Boyega as Finn, an ex-Stormtrooper whose character bio on the official Star Wars website describes him as "a trained warrior desperate to escape his past."
Lupita Nyong'o will play Maz Kanata, a galactic pirate. "Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time," director J.J. Abrams told Entertainment Weekly in November, speaking about Nyong'o's character. "She's lived over a thousand years."
The casting and new characters offer some hints as to what twists may be in store come Dec. 18, but there are sure to be some surprises. It's a safe bet, however, that the epic struggle between the Light Side and the Dark Side will continue for many years to come.