Ovation for Ford at Star Wars event
Plane crash survivor Harrison Ford returned to the public stage alongside fellow Star Wars veterans Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, joining younger cast members of the new film to bring the force to Comic-Con.
Legions of fans had slept outside the convention centre in San Diego for days before the much anticipated appearance and were rewarded for their efforts when they were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Force Awakens, as well as a surprise outside concert attended by the cast bearing light sabres.
The Star Wars originals accompanied new cast members and actors Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, as well as co-stars Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver, for a further glimpse at what fans can expect when the new film is released in cinemas in December.
The panel was Ford's first public appearance since crashing his small plane earlier this year and he received a standing ovation from fans as he walked on to the stage.
Clearly touched by the reception he received, Ford said: "The original Star Wars was the beginning of my working life, I was very happy to be a part of the story and the cast again."
The Indiana Jones star, 72, also suffered a broken leg during an accident on set but assured the crowds he felt "just fine".
Asked if he had ever thought what happened to Han Solo after Return Of The Jedi, the veteran star said: "No, because I never thought that it would come back to bless me rather than haunt me."
He added: "I was very gratified when I read the script. I read something that I thought was really remarkable, really well-written, with some very intriguing developments and I was very happy to be a part of the story."
Director J.J. Abrams told devotees they could expect a new trailer in the autumn, adding that one of his most important tasks was ensuring he did not let his love of the franchise interfere with the film-making.
"When you're directing a scene on the millennium falcon..it doesn't make the scene good," he said.
"It's definitely bitchin', don't get me wrong, but what's the story?"
He also introduced a new character from the film, a giant robotic creature called Baba Jo, to emphasise the importance of practical effects over CGI.
The long-necked creature took a lap round the stage to wild applause before sidling up to Abrams and knocking his name plate to the ground.
The director, revealed to fans that he already has a cut of the film but is still working on the final edit.
Fisher, who resumes her role of Princess Leia, said it was surreal to be back on set: "I didn't think it was going to happen again. It was a little bit like before only we looked more melted this time, but in a good way," she said.
Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, added he is still touched by how personal Star Wars is for fans: "When I meet you on the street everyone has a story it's such a personal story...it's very moving to me."
However, he said his Star Wars trivia is distinctly lacking, adding: "I don't remember what Han Solo was smuggling! I've ceded ownership to the world at large."
Ford, Fisher and Hamill all embraced on stage to the delight of fans before Abrams announced that panel attendees would be treated to a surprise outdoor concert of Star Wars music, performed by the San Diego Symphony.
Stormtroopers led crowds through the streets to a waterfront stage for a sunset performance of some of the most famous pieces of music from the films after the cast appeared on stage again, this time branding light sabres to fight with lucky fans in the front rows.