What happened after the Ewoks sang “Yub Nub” and Luke burnt the body of the Darth Vader? Well, the Emperor was dead, the second Death Star was destroyed and many of the most significant capital ships in the Empire (e.g. the Devastator and the Super Star Destroyer Executor) went along with it.
But, notably, Coruscant was unscathed despite being the seat of the Empire. It is more than plausible that the Empire survived the Battle of Endor in some form, even if it was initially a shadow of its former self.
Some fans are really upset about the idea of the Empire returning in some form, but all I can say is that, given the reports of stormtroopers, Imperial-style hangars, Star Destroyer bridge sets and more, there is now little use in clinging to the notion that the Empire vanished after Return of the Jedi—that film was about ending the reign of Palpatine, not necessarily about ending the overall struggle against the Empire.
So where might things be at 30 years after the Battle of Endor? JoBlo gives us the following insight:
– In general the setting looks kind of post-apocalyptic with a lot of leftover vestige from the empire. It seems much more dark and rough than the prequels. The feeling was that it has not been easy in the last 30 years since RETURN OF THE JEDI, probably with a very long war to truly “end” the empire.
– There are still white storm troopers in action. The empire is probably not completely dead.
The overall impression is that things are different, but not by a wide margin, and the galaxy is even more worn out than in the original trilogy. People are making do with what was left in the wake of the Galactic Civil War. Hence we have all the Imperial fragments lying around (including Dark Side assassins or Inquisitors or mercenaries) and also familiar-looking ships.
We’ve already seen a craft being built that looks like a modified X-wing, but where will it be used? Apparently it’s located on Tatooine, painted silver, and owned by one of the younger characters. (My guess is it’s the property of Daisy Ridley’s character.)
Below is a gallery of images that I believe give an idea of the sort of “look” we should expect from Episode VII. This is intended merely to give the flavour of the aesthetic, but I think it’s not that wide off the mark.
I dare say it’ll be a return to the aesthetic of the original trilogy, if nothing else.