Thousands of fans lined up to get a glimpse of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and its cast at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday, and they weren’t left disappointed.
Although director J.J. Abrams did not release any new footage of the new “Star Wars” movie, those who attended the highly-anticipated panel in Hall-H were treated to a special behind-the-scenes reel.
The video — posted on the “Star Wars” YouTube page the same day as the panel — gave fans a look at some of the new special effects, costumes and sets that will appear in Episode VII, while also offering yet another glimpse of the characters being introduced.
But it was also satisfying to the legions of fans who grew up with and adored the original trilogy, as it served as a bridge between old and new elements of the franchise.
There were plenty of familiar characters, including fan favorite Han Solo and Chewbacca sitting — albeit separately — in the Millennium Falcon cockpit; C-3PO and R2-D2 were among the heroes to return, as were the villainous Storm Troopers, and a host of memorable aliens.
“Real sets. Practical effects. You’ve been here, but you don’t know this story. Nothing’s changed really. I mean, everything’s changed, but nothing’s changed. That’s the way you want it to be really,” said Mark Hamill, who is reprising his iconic role of Luke Skywalker. “To see the way the technology has evolved, and yet, keeping one foot in the pre-digital world.”
Carrie Fisher, whose Princess Leia was among the popular characters from the original trilogy to be featured in the new reel, said she was “excited” to be back on the set of a “Star Wars” film.
“It’s still surreal,” she said.
The panel itself featured Abrams, producer and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and writer Lawrence Kasdan. They were joined onstage by new cast members John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Daisy Ridley.
Later, Hamill and Fisher took to the stage to thunderous rounds of applause, according to the Los Angeles Times.
But the fans were delighted when Harrison Ford took the stage, giving the actor a standing ovation. Earlier this year, the 72-year-old Ford was hospitalized after the small World War II-era plane he was flying crashed at Penmar Golf Course in Venice.
The panel was his first public appearance since he was injured, CNN reported.
After assuring fans he was feeling well, Ford told the crowd “it felt great” to playing Han Solo again, according to the Times.
“It was an emotional rounding of the experience of the first three films,” he said. “I never thought it would come back. I never thought we’d do another one.”
Once the panel concluded, there was one more treat awaiting the audience of more than 6,000 fans: a surprise Star Wars concert of John Williams’ music at Embarcadero Marina Park South, according to the YouTube page.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be released in movie theaters on Dec. 18, 2015.