Lucasfilm says that just like in the real world, 30 years of story time have passed since "Return of the Jedi" when "Star Wars: Episode VII" begins. Think about the technological advances we've seen in the last 30 years here in the real world. It's a huge amount of time, so it only makes sense that everyday items will have been upgraded to some extent.
Take Stormtroopers for example. Back during the Clone Wars, when they were still known as Clone Troopers, their helmets had a very severe design that was reminiscent of Boba Fett's. By the time we catch up with them again, about 20 years later in "A New Hope," they've evolved to the classic Stormtrooper look we remember so well. So what might they look like after another huge time jump to a new era of that galaxy far, far away?
Director J.J. Abrams himself has already shown us what the upgraded X-Wing star fighter looks like. Now we have our first glimpse of the next generation of Stormtroopers. First published as an exclusive over at Indie Revolver is this brand new image of what the website claims is a genuine photo from the set of "Star Wars: Episode VII." If it's true, then we now know what Stormtroopers will look like in the new trilogy.
The look takes the familiar Stormtrooper curves and lines and makes them sleeker. Take a good look and you'll see that all of the elements of the classic Stormtrooper helmet are there, they've just been smoothed out and refined. According to Indie Revolver's Jay Carlson, it features black, sunglasses-like eye lenses that are set inside a black frame "to give the illusion of one single piece."
Another, smaller-but-clearer look at the alleged new Stormtrooper helmet was later posted at the movie replica fan forum The RPF. View it below.
Indie Revolver's Carlson also published a spy photo of what he believes to be an upgraded Snowtrooper, a la "Empire Strikes Back." The look is certainly very similar, though we've had no indication thus far that a snowy or icy environment is featured in the new movie. You can see the image at the end this article.
Whatever kind of movie hits theaters in December 2015, it seems clear that Lucasfilm and Abrams are taking their jobs very, very seriously. They've repeatedly shown now that a tremendous amount of thought and attention to detail and respect for the classics have gone into building (and rebuilding) the classic Star Wars universe.