From a galaxy far, far away, director J.J. Abrams released an 88-second teaser for the newest Star Wars film, which is scheduled to be released next year.
The trailer, which is being played in movie theatres and shown online via YouTube, is made up of various cut scenes featuring fan favorites such as the Millennium Falcon and X-Wings fighting and new content such as a spherical robot and an upgraded take on the iconic light saber.
"There has been an awakening," actor Andy Serkis said in a mysterious voice. "Have you felt it?"
The trailer has garnered over 40 million hits on YouTube over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It ends with Serkis mentioning "the dark side...and the light."
However, not all Star Wars fans were delighted with the short trailer's release. According to Kriston Capps of The Atlantic, some people pointed out that the sweating stormtrooper who popped up at the beginning of the film could not possibly fit in the fictional Star Wars universe.
"A few corners of the Internet turned to the internal logic of the Star Wars universe to appeal the presence of a black stormtrooper," Capps wrote. "Didn't the prequels reveal that all stormtroopers were white clones?"
Capps argued that despite the fact the clone army "wasn't white in any sense of the word" as depicted in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the Empire had been recruiting from general populations for years after the clone army died out. He concluded that, based on the power structure of the Empire, having a black stormtrooper in the Star Wars franchise was entirely possible.
"The Empire is not a racially diverse institution," Capps wrote. "That said, if the Empire recruited black stormtroopers, that would be totally in keeping with a racist Empire-since black and white people are not actually from different races, the way that (say) humans and Wookies are."
Capps added that the entire Star Wars franchise both commits and depicts racism; the prequels seem to mock Jews and Asians with their depiction of two alien races as galactic bankers and traders, and Jar Jar Binks has been decried as racist against black Caribbeans. Although it's not part of the official Star Wars story line, back stories in the comics and novels indicated that the Emperor had disdain for non-human races.
"So a black stormtrooper can very well be a black stormtrooper in the Star Wars Galaxy without there being any great significance to it," Capps wrote. "It's not that simple in the fraught universe of Hollywood, though, where casting a black actor as a lead in one of the most powerful franchises in film history can help to correct a representation gap older than Yoda-but not without drawing scrutiny."
According to Daisy Wyatt of The Independent, the inclusion of a black stormtrooper sparked an online backlash on social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube. Despite the controversy, British actor John Boyega is taking it in stride, based on a message he posted on his Instagram profile.
"I'm in the movie, but as a Star Wars fan, I am very excited!" Boyega wrote. "To whom it may concern...get used to it."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled to arrive in theatres on December 2015.