It happened! We got our first look at director Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars story, it’s called Rogue One, and it looks like a science fiction heist film with a rebellious female lead (played by Felicity Jones). Sure, everyone caught that there are different types of Stormtroopers this time out, and yeah, there’s another Death Star in a Star Wars movie — but that doesn’t mean this trailer isn’t packed to the gills with exciting developments in Disney’s stewardship of the Star Wars universe. With that in mind, let’s crack open our geek brains and let them spill out all over this Rogue One trailer.
First, watch the trailer below, then strap in for our deep analysis:
The trailer starts with the audience being introduced to Jyn Erso, Felicity Jones’ character. She’s entering what appears to be the Rebel Base on Yavin IV that is put in jeopardy by the Death Star at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope.
We get our first glimpse of an X-Wing as Jyn is lead through the hanger, and we discover who is behind the voiceover rattling off Jyn’s criminal record — it’s Mon Mothma! In the original trilogy, we don’t run into Mon Mothma until Return of the Jedi, when she’s giving the briefing on the second Death Star (yes, the second Death Star plans are the ones where many Bothan spies died, not this one).
She’s standing around the same display Leia and General Jan Dodonna use in A New Hope to monitor the Battle of Yavin happening above. General Dodonna is the man we see give the first Death Star briefing, he doesn’t appear to be around Yavin at the moment.
This Mon Mothma actress will be familiar to anyone who has seen the Revenge of the Sith deleted scenes: it’s Genevieve O’Reilly! She was cast as Mon Mothma for the third of the prequels, but her scene was cut from the theatrical release of the film (she still appears in the background). O’Reilly is reprising here, which is a fun connection to existing Star Wars lore (and gives me great hope for another cameo: see the kneeling figure part of this post).
Next, we see Diego Luna’s character regarding Jyn. He’s in the Rebellion military, as you can tell by his badge that displays his rank as two blue dots stacked vertically. Sadly, there isn’t a consistent canonical through-line for this rank. Depending on which X-Wing video game you’re playing, it’s either a Captain or a Lieutenant, but those aren’t canonical games any longer. The important thing is that he’s not a private and he’s not a general, he’s a guy that’s going to team up with Jyn to go on some secret missions. The rumor is this character is named Cassein Willix, but we’ll just call him Diego Luna for now.
Jyn has the awesome line “this is a Rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.” This is intercut with her kicking some Stormtrooper butt with a billy club of some sort (Diego Luna is in the background, so this is already part of the mission, despite how it is edited). There’s also a brief shot of Jyn in an alley and behind her is a large humanoid droid. That droid (we’ll catch a glimpse of him later) is probably the one played by Alan Tudyk (of Firefly and I, Robot fame). He looks large enough to be some sort of battle or enforcer droid, but it will be interesting to see if it is Jyn’s companion or a tool of the Rebellion.
There’s also this shot of someone detonating an explosion that sends Stormtroopers flying. It’s the widest shot we get of this sand city that will be under siege. From what we see in this trailer, it looks like X-Wing pilots crash here and are taken captive. What’s being blown up in this shot is a Hover Tank, which we’ll see later.
Diego Luna and Felicity Jones are shown diving away from this explosion, so they’re not the one detonating the bomb from above.
Mon Mothma seems to like the wordplay from Jyn (who has been on her own since she was 15, although rumor has it we might meet her father in this movie).
Mon Mothma has a mission for Jyn. A major weapons test is going down and they need to know what it is. We get our Star Wars original trilogy-era Star Destroyers, and the slow reveal of the dish being applied to the Death Star, which looks flat gray as it should, and it’s great.
The dish uses Kyber crystals to focus beams and fire it. Those are the same crystals Jedi use in their lightsabers. I’m guessing they’ve already been installed by the time this dish gets up. Either way, this whole construction process is something Grand Moff Tarkin is canonically very close to (from the novel Tarkin). If we’re actually spending any time on or near the Death Star, I’d expect Tarkin to show up in some manner.
Alarms start going off and Jyn and Diego Luna head off to do some sort of mission, leaving Yavin IV behind to eventually receive General Dodonna and Princess Leia in a future past Star Wars film.
Ben Mendelsohn’s mystery Grand Admiral on the Death Star. There’s so much to unpack about this shot. First, this is the canonical reintroduction of the rank of Grand Admiral into the Star Wars canon, and he is dressed in white like the most famous Grand Admiral from the Expanded Universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn. It was established in the novel Tarkin that Grand Moff is above the rest of the military, but a Grand Admiral would be the equal of the Imperial Navy. For comparison, a Grand Admiral would be Admiral Ackbar, while a Grand Moff would be Mon Mothma. He’s got a pistol and he’s standing in front of the original Death Star’s targeting display, the one that will eventually show Grand Moff Tarkin the last picture of Alderaan.
Here’s that Hover Tank that gets blown up (or another Hover Tank, like the one that gets blown up). It’s piloted by a new type of Stormtrooper as well, one with a more angular lower mask and a visor perched up on the forehead. We’ll see some brown-colored visor troopers later on, but these appear to be white.
Forest Whitaker’s character has a cane and a power suit of some kind. Rumors about Rogue One’s plot have Whitaker playing a third party that isn’t straight Rebellion or Imperial. Many have speculated that he’s going to be the connecting thread to bounty hunters that join the Rogue One team of Jyn and Diego Luna (and mystery Tudyk droid).
New Stormtrooper alert! Lucasfilm has trademarked the term “Shadow Trooper,” and this could possibly be that new Trooper. However: There have been rumors of black Stormtroopers wearing a more traditionally-shaped mask, so we don’t know how broad the term “Shadow Trooper” goes. What we can infer from another shot in this trailer is that eventually Jyn is going to go undercover as one of these guys, and they seem elite in the sense that all the Shadow Troopers travel together, rather than in mixed packs like the other troopers.
The question of what happens if our team is caught is paired with some captive X-Wing pilots. Later in the trailer when we see Donnie Yen about to fight some Stormtroopers, it’s in front of a downed X-Wing. Whatever mission that everyone left Yavin IV for seems to end up in this desert town where downed Rebellion pilots are taken captive. Hover Tanks roll in and someone blows them up, maybe?
Anyway, we see some running that was clearly filmed in a London tube station, but will likely be filling in for some sort of base (likely Imperial based on the color scheme). We also get to see the back of the Tudyk droid, who is part of our Rebellion threesome.
New Stormtrooper alert! Here we get our first official look at the tan-colored troopers with a visor on the forehead. Amongst the Star Wars rumor mongers, these troopers have been referred to as Scarab Troopers, but no official name has been given to them yet.
Here’s Donnie Yen introducing what looks like spear or swordplay into the Star Wars universe. While Forest Whitaker is wondering what happens if “they” break “you,” we see Yen approach a group of Stormtroopers in front of a downed X-Wing (in that desert town we’ve been seeing). Then, with some quick martial arts, all the Troopers go down and Donnie Yen is a badass.
Here are those Shadow Troopers in a group once again. They don’t have your normal Stormtrooper E-11 blasters, instead they have something larger and meaner looking. They appear to be fighting on the beach or a tropical planet, where we see the AT-AT’s firing later on in the trailer.
A ship that looks mysteriously like Kylo Ren’s transport from The Force Awakens blows up. Even though that ship was a First Order ship, the order of the edit of these shots makes it look like this might be an assault on a Rebellion target. This is also on the beach or tropical planet, and if there are AT-ATs around, it seems like the Empire could be the attackers in this conflict.
In the aftermath of the skirmish on this planet, the Grand Admiral surveys the damage. He walks through a shallow pool like the one we see AT-ATs stomp through, and approaches a structure surrounded by dead Stormtroopers.
Contrasting a white cape with a black one, a dark and hooded figure kneels before a shaft or chamber. The notable thing about this are the red guards, the Emperor’s personal guard. Those guys don’t go anywhere unless the Emperor is physically present, so my hopes for an Ian McDiarmid cameo reprising his role as Palpatine are at an all time high.
Forest Whitaker warns someone that if they keep fighting they might become something else, and we get to see Jain Wen’s character, who is maybe some type of weapons expert for the Rebellion, running and firing in the daytime.
That cuts to what would be the money shot if you haven’t been spending half a year playing Star Wars: Battlefront and are therefore used to seeing this perspective of AT-ATs. These walkers are a bit sleeker in design than what will eventually end up on Hoth, but it’s one of those things we’ll have to forgive because it looks cooler.
Finally, we see Jyn in some sort of Imperial uniform. The voice-over makes it seem like she might be switching sides, but insider info suggests Jyn and Diego Luna go undercover at one point, like Han and Luke did in A New Hope. The rumor is that Jyn would be dressing up as an Imperial Gunner, and outside of the bulky backpack on this outfit, it looks like that rumor might pan out. The uniform also looks like it could be a type of Shadow Trooper or, additionally, a TIE-Fighter pilot (assuming they get to fly somewhere). That same rumor has Diego Luna cosplaying as an Imperial Officer, though we don’t see that in the trailer.
The most interesting thing about the Rogue One trailer is how it bowls over the time period that some of the Expanded Universe video games covered, while reintroducing things that feel like echoes from those now-deleted stories. Notably, the Dark Forces video game series had some Shadow Troopers, and featured a female Imperial spy that eventually joined the Rebellion called Jan Ors. And this is mere hours after Grand Admirals became a thing in the Star Wars universe once again.
Rogue One comes out December 16th this year, but this first teaser suggests we have a lot more exciting marketing info to digest before we’re even ready for the real movie.