Star Wars: The Force Awakens–at Comic-Con

Star Wars returned to Comic-Con with a panel that proved the franchise still had plenty of force 38 years after the first movie’s release.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will bow in theaters December 18.

Fans who camped outside the San Diego Convention Center were treated to a behind the scenes making of “The Force Awakens” as well as a surprise concert after the Hall H panel. But it was Star Wars’ rich legacy and Harrison Ford that commanded attention.

Ford, after receiving a standing ovation, fought back tears as he expressed his gratitude for the series. “The original Star Wars was the beginning of my working life,” he said.  “I was very happy to be apart of the story and the cast again.”

It was Ford’s first public appearance since crashing his plane in March, which left him hospitalized. But the actor, who is 70, assured moderator Chris Hardwicke and the audience that he was “just fine.” He broke his leg in an unrelated, on-set accident that delayed production on “The Force Awakens” last year.

Joining Ford onstage were director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, writer Lawrence Kasdan and Star Wars newcomers and veterans, including original cast members Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

“It’s such a personal story to everyone,” Hamill said. “Suddenly you become a friend to everyone.”

Carrie Fisher joked that she and the other “legacy” Star Wars actors looked a little “melted” these days. “But in a good way,” she said.

Abrams, who promised a new “Force Awakens” trailer this fall, said the most important tasks for him was to let fandom get in the way of making the Disney and Lucasfilm sequel.

“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 brought out a giant robotic creature from “The Force Awakens” to emphasis how important authenticity, not CGI, was to the film’s shoot in London and Morocco.

“We have a cut of the movie,” he later teased. “But we’re still tweaking to get the right story.”

Some audience members asked why there weren’t more Asian Americans in the “Star Wars” universe.  “I think you’ll be happy to see there are Asians in this film,” he responded, thanking them for their “hugely important question.”

He added: “We didn’t write the character to be any color, we wanted the movie to look the way the world looks.”