By now, odds are you’ve watched that new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer like a dozen times, maybe more. The previous two have each featured characters talking over the action, but this time out, there are a ton of voices to be heard. Most of them are easy to identify, as they correspond with a character we see on screen—Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren—but there’s one mysterious female voice dispensing sage wisdom that remains entirely off screen.
The prevailing logic going around the internet today is that this is the voice of Maz Kanata, an entirely CGI character played by Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o. Some people are stating this like it’s absolute fact, and though we don’t know where they’re getting confirmation, this is the theory appears sound from where we sit.
By process of elimination, this is an easy conclusion to arrive at. There are only four substantial female roles that we know of in The Force Awakens. You have Daisy Ridley’s Rey, and she’s on the other side of this conversation, so we know it’s not her. Generations of Star Wars fans raised on the saga can tell you that it’s not Carrie Fisher, so Leia is out. And it’s no shocker to say that there’s no way in hell that this is Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma, for a variety of reasons. All of this really leaves one option: Maz Kanata.
There’s not a ton known about her at this point. We’ve seen photos of Nyong’o in her motion capture suit performing the character, but that new poster that appeared a few days back gave us our first look at the character aside from some concept art. And while we don’t know her precise role, if she’s on the poster, she must at least play some key part—hell, Luke Skywalker isn’t even on the poster.
She is said to be a pirate, and when that Vanity Fair spread came out earlier this year, we got a look at the wide variety of aliens, creatures, and general space scoundrels who hang out at her pad. Given the shady, rogue nature of her character, you have to wonder if she could be someone from Han Solo’s past, part of his days as a rough and tumble smuggler and general ne’er-do-well.
With her line of work, that would make a great deal of sense, and it also ties into another intriguing bit in the trailer. That old, brightly colored castle, stronghold, enclave, or whatever you want to call it—the one with the cool looking droid and all the banners—looks very much like it could be where she lives. It certainly fits with the general aesthetic we saw in the VF photos, a kind of oasis for outlaws and other individuals who prefer not to be found. This spot is also said to be located on the planet Takodana.
If Maz Kanata is indeed a face from Han’s past, or maybe he just likes to keep one foot in the underworld—those sort of alliances can come in handy in a pinch—the question is why does he take Finn and Rey there? Are they looking for clues, perhaps to lead them to Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts? Do they need shelter? Is this a good place to lay low and hide out while things are hairy elsewhere?
If this is the case, this is presumably where the conversation between Maz and Rey goes down, and the implication is that she has some knowledge of the Force. Does this mean she’s a Jedi? Is she simply in tune with the more spiritual side of this galaxy far, far away? She obviously knows something, imploring Rey to let the Force wash over her.
In the trailer, it appears that the history and the lore of the Jedi may have been largely forgotten, illustrated by when Han tells Rey and Finn that all the stories are true and how shocked they look. It is entirely possible that Maz Kanata serves as a kind of historian, a keeper of the oral history, of the old traditions, and these young folk need some schooling. This could be one way to get a bunch of information out without it feeling like a huge dump.
At this stage, it’s hard to tell if Maz Kanata is someone the characters should trust or not. If you look in the midst of all of those waving banners outside the castle, you will notice a Jiang Skull, which is most widely known as the symbol of the Mandalorians, the nomadic warrior culture Boba Fett belongs to. While there are certainly some less-than-savory folks frequenting this particular location, the Mandalorians are not known as a particularly friendly bunch.
Granted, that’s a broad statement, but it’s enough to make you wonder about Maz Kanata’s allegiances, if they can be bought, or if she has any at all. The real question is can she be trusted? Will she sell them out like Lando in Empire? Would Han have dropped in if there was any other choice? Perhaps this is a desperation move and they have no other options, but for now we don’t know if she’s a bad guy, good guy, or something more complicated. My bet is on complicated.
As expected, the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer leaves us with more questions than it answers. Though we see glimpses and bits and pieces, the plot remains largely vague and nebulous at this point, but this latest look at the film certainly gives us a great deal to mull over, break down, argue about, and otherwise examine. Should be more than enough to keep us occupied until December 18. Assuming you can get tickets.