Rogue One Trailer: What Does It All Mean?!

Rogue One is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, especially since J.J. nailed the execution of Episode 7. Personally, I’m more excited about this movie than I was about The Force Awakens. Yeah, Ep 7 was going to continue the Skywalker story and introduce a new era of Star Wars, but it was going to be a typical fun space opera romp. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the movie was, but I still hold a lot of respect for what Gareth Edwards is doing with Rogue One.

For those who don’t know, this movie is the story of the Rebel agents who capture the plans for the first Death Star prior to Leia getting them in Episode IV – A New Hope. And to quell the immediate reaction that LITERALLY everyone I talk to has…no, it doesn’t have to do with Bothan spies. For eff sake people, that’s the second Death Star. We got a several second teaser for this movie last year, and it didn’t show anything but trees, a Tie Fighter, and the Death Star looming in the background. But the music, the tone, the slow angling up to see a massive Death Star. This movie is going to have very different tone from any other Star Wars movie we’ve had before. Think dark, gritty, military heist movie with galactic stakes and a bunch of grunts with no Force powers.

But it’s been frustrating how little we’ve heard from this movie since the announcement last year. The Force Awakens had full-on script leaks at this point last year, and other than a few strange rumors that I’m not entirely sure about, and a couple of cast confirmations, we’ve heard literally nothing of this film officially.

Until now. Yup, after seemingly months of rumoring and a bunch of false alarms, we’ve finally gotten an official trailer from Disney. And I’m more excited than ever.

Meet Jyn Erso

Felicity Jones is playing the main character and leads the operation to capture the Death Star plans. Now we have a name, and a bit of a backstory to go with it. She seems to have a tinge of an Imperial accent (pronouncing her last name as “Air-so”, but then again, so do the Rebels in the scene.

She’s actually in shackles when she’s led into a Rebel base that looks pretty Massassi temple-ish. This is probably the Rebel base on Yavin IV that’s shown in A New Hope. However, I still find it interesting that she’s in shackles…with the Rebels. Is she too Rebel-ey to be in their little Rebel club?

The trailer also shows a scene where she’s beating the tar out of a squad of Stormtroopers. Given that none of her crew is with her (except a robot, that I’ll get to later), and the fact that this sandy Tatooine-ish planet does not appear anywhere in the military scenes, I think it’s safe to assume that this happens prior to her recruitment. Could this be how she gets captured in the first place? Maybe, but it’s still unclear how the Rebellion got their hands on her.

She is soon brought to the leader of the Rebel alliance herself, Mon Mothma, who is played brilliantly by Genevieve O’Reilly, who played a younger version in the prequels. Alistair Petrie appears to play a Rebel General of some kind (indicated by the same insignia as General Dodonna in A New Hope), who reads off her crimes. Forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, a resisting arrest. To be honest, none of those things are that bad, given what the Rebellion is up to, but it certainly makes her a target to pull a heist.

Jyn’s response to her crimes is to throw it back in their face. “This is a Rebellion, right? I Rebel.” Clearly, she clearly has a distaste for Mon Mothma’s peace-loving, authoritarian style. And neither Mothma nor General Whatshisface seem to take lightly to her Don’t-Give-An-Eff style. Yet, they give her the job anyway. I mean, it’s an important job, so they certainly trust her capabilities, but it sounds like a suicide mission.

Jyn is apparently an orphan (“on your own since the age of 15”), which kind of flies in the face of early rumors that suggested she might be the daughter of either Ben Mendelsohn’s or Mads Mikkelsen’s Imperial characters. While I’d prefer that the nature of Jyn’s parents’ death be more important than their names, the rumors are still possible in the following two scenarios:

  1. Mads Mikkelsen’s character is rumored to be a Robert Oppenheimer-esque engineer, who designs the technology behind the Death Star and regrets it immediately afterwards. Jyn is probably between 18 and 25 years old, and given how long it took to make the Death Star, it’s possible that Mads Mikkelsen’s character committed suicide or was eliminated once he was no longer needed (more likely in Star Wars) somewhere between 3 and 10 years before the movie opens. Still, I’d rather see Mads as more than just a flashback character.
  2. She is the daughter of whoever Admiral that Ben Mendelsohn is playing. I find it likely that under the oppressive rule of such a father that she might simply run the heck away from that nightmare.

Either scenario is possible to me, but as I said before, I’d rather see that Jyn not be related to one of the other cast members. I’ve seen enough father’s legacy storylines in Star Wars, thank you very much.

Oh, there’s also some speculation that she’s the mother of Rey. Give me a break guys. Just because she’s a powerful woman doesn’t mean she has to be the one who births the other powerful woman. From Disney’s perspective, this is a stand-alone movie. For that reason, I’m expecting these characters to stand tall in their own ways.

This is a bit out of order, since it’s the last shot of the trailer, but let’s just address this while we’re on the topic of Jyn. A lot of sites and fans have been looking at this shot, played against Forest Whitiker’s question of “Who will you become?” as some sort of admission that she’s going to defect from the Rebellion.

Yeah no. Clearly, this is her disguising herself as an Imperial gunner to get into the Death Star or whatever the eff they get into to steal the plans.

Don’t worry, we’ll get to Forest Whitaker later.

Captain Diego Luna

Obviously, Jyn isn’t badass enough to fight against the Empire alone. She’s got a team too. We’ve seen cast photos of the team previously, but now we get to see them in action.

We get our first shot of Diego Luna’s unnamed character as he sits around in the shadows looking sexy as ever. It’s notable that he’s attending Mon Mothma and General Whothehellknows’ meeting with Jyn. He’s got a green insignia, and I can’t really recall what that implies, but two pips identifies him as a Captain. Clearly, this guy is trusted in the Rebellion.

We also get a shot of the two of them heading out, along with a bunch of Rebel pilots and some extras. I’d expect Captain Diego Luna is assigned to this team as more official Rebel dude who will keep Jyn and the others in check. I would expect Jyn’s distaste of authority and Captain Luna’s rank will mean they’ll be hashing it out quite often.

We unfortunately don’t have a name for Diego’s character, or any of the other characters in this trailer. But, that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from suggesting various options. Biggs Darklighter (Luke’s pilot friend who gets shot by Vader’s TIE Fighter in A New Hope) is a popular suggestion, presumably due to the mustache. I don’t think that’s right though, since Biggs is a good pilot, but not really in command of anything. This guy appears to be a Captain, appears to be more of a ground-pounder than a pilot, and frankly doesn’t look like him.

I’ve also heard Kes Dameron, the father of Poe, who also happens to looking nothing like Diego Luna other than having a slightly dark skin tone (racists!) and a few other possibilities. Frankly, I have a feeling this guy’s going to be a one-shot character. He’ll have his own interesting back story and skills that we’ll probably learn from some heart-opening moment when him and Jyn finally get over their shit, and that’ll be it. But not everyone in Star Wars needs to be related.

The Other Guys

We also get a shot of Donnie Yen being Donnie Yen. As much as he looks badass taking on half a squad of Stormtroopers with a stick, I’m also disappointed that he’s basically being typecast as a racial stereotype. He’s the blind Asian dude who beats people with archaic weapons. This stereotype is ridiculous when placed in modern environments with guns, but it’s even more ridiculous in a science fantasy universe where laser swords, blasters, and photon torpedoes exist.

All I’m saying is that there’s a really high bar that they have to climb to make this character anything less than annoyingly distasteful. But we don’t see much of this guy in action, so who knows. Maybe he’ll be delightful.

We also get to see Jiang Weng running like a madman as stuff explodes behind him, which is always amazing to see. I’ve seen a bunch of rumors claiming that he’s some sort of bounty hunter that defects to the Rebellion. That seems reasonable based on this shot, his scuffed up armor, and the various tools and weapons he appears to carry.

We also get very slight glances at a tall and skinny droid character that seems to be following around Jyn quite a bit. From what little we see, it looks like one of the BX-series Commando droids that the Trade Federation uses in the Clone Wars series. He also could be an IG-model assassin droid. It’s hard to tell since we don’t get a shot of the head. But in any case, maybe he’s an old converted droid? It would be entertaining regardless, especially since this is widely believed to be the character that Alan Tudyk, who played the “leaf on the wind” pilot in Firefly, will voice act.

He does appear to be tied up with Jyn, regardless. I mentioned that he was in the sandy planet scene where she beats up a bunch of Stormtroopers. He doesn’t really seem to help in the battle, but he’s there, looming in the background behind her. I have to wonder if he’s a friend that’s helped her throughout the last several years, giving her some companionship or some such. Maybe akin to a robot Chewie.

Unless I missed him, I didn’t see any sign of Riz Ahmed, who is also supposed to be a good guy on this team.

The Bad Guy

Wow, and then there’s this guy. Ben Mendolsen has been rumored to be in the movie for a long time now, and he even came out once to say, “That would be cool, but I’m not signed up guys.” So, was he lying or did they snatch him up last minute? Eh, who cares.

What we know is that Ben Mendolsen is playing the primary villain in this movie, some sort of Imperial of considerable rank. Based on the pips on his uniform (6 red, 6 blue), he’s some sort of Fleet Admiral.

Then again, none of this rank stuff is especially drawn out in the new canon so who knows. By the way, the guy above is wearing a white shirt with a coronel rank, so white shirt does not equal crazy high level status. White shirt is normally the designation of the Imperial Security Bureau. Normally. According to Rebels, the guy above actually became the deputy director of Naval Intelligence at some point, so maybe the white shirt means Intelligence or something. Either way, it would make sense that a white shirted guy would be tasked with dealing with a group of Rebels that stole the plans.

Many are saying that Mendolsen is playing Wullf Yularen (the guy above), but I’m not entirely convinced that’s accurate. If Mendolsen is playing Yularen, then Yularen got severely demoted after the events of Rogue One. And my experience is that people failing at such a high level task don’t get demoted, they get dead. This might actually be some sort of top boss for Yularen instead.

Oh yeah, he also tries to evoke some sort of strange Jesus imagery by walking in water in a pure white outfit, which is never a great idea by the way. The Empire musts have incredible dry cleaners. Regardless, I like the look of this guy. Ben Mendolsohn’s giving this guy some serious gravitas.

Is That Who I Think It Is?

I dunno, who do you think it is. Vader doesn’t wear a hood, so it’s not him. It might be the Emperor, but why is he involved in this movie and heading to what appears to be a bacta tank? Clearly this person is important enough to deserve Imperial Guards, and normally only the Emperor and Vader have been associated with the Imperial guards.

This scene has created a ton of speculation around them recreating the “Emperor creates clones of himself to stay alive” thing that existed in the EU. That’s a bit weird for this movie and there’s literally no reason for them to introduce it here.

Given the canon of the Star Wars: Rebels TV show, it could even be an Inquisitor. However, unless someone in her crew is Force sensitive, there’d be no reason for the Inquisitors to be hunting them. Maybe it’s just Vader making a fashion statement or getting ready for a bath. The truth is, this guy is a mystery, and probably will be for a while.

Awesome Looking Stormtroopers

Yup, we get new Stormtroopers. These are believed to be the “Shadow troopers” that are the spec-ops versions of the normal grunts. With something as high priority as the Death Star, it makes sense that these elite troops would be involved here.

Also, it looks like these troops are literally hunting down this Rebel group. The trailer positions these troops firing…

With the explosion of this giant transport ship. It clearly looks Imperial, so I can only assume that these Elite troopers just blew up Jyn and co.’s ride, presumably stranding them on whatever planet they’re on, presumably with the plans, and with an Imperial legion descending on them. Whoops.

Forest Whittiker As….Some Guy

Alright! After months of teasing, we finally see Forest Whitaker’s character. And it explains nothing. I know the above shot is a bit on the terribly blurry side, but it’s the only one that shows off a decent amount of his costume.

Rumors pointed to him playing some sort of shady criminal-type, possibly a former bounty hunter (because in Star Wars, you’re either a Rebel, an Imperial, or a Bounty Hunter, apparently), who’s body has been ravaged by years of battle and apparently is missing a leg. It’s unclear whether said battle is the Clone Wars or the Civil War (which has been raging for years, at this point). But regardless, Forest looks beat up, has a pronounced limp, appears to walk with a cane, and has some sort of crazy looking steampunk suit that is probably keeping him alive. I’m not sure what that giant tube in the front is, but it could be a breathing apparatus as well. Also, we don’t get a crotch-down shot, so we can’t really confirm that he’s missing a leg.

Regardless, he seems to be a bit of a neutral character in this fight. He’s probably talking to Jyn, and dispensing some wisdom to her. He says the following:

“What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?”

That’s deep stuff, man. Referencing the burden of the warrior, the horrors that warfare brings to the spirit. Forest has seen some shit, clearly.

But the biggest question is where he fits within this realm of this story. We’re seeing an underground tunnel system. Is this on the palm tree planet, or the sand planet? Does he capture her and he’s convincing her to go to the Rebellion? Or is he referencing an inevitable capture after stealing the Death Star plans? Given how the clip is positioned in the trailer, they appear to be trying to convince us of the latter.

We have seen a cast photo with them in a dark underground bunker of some kind, where it appears that they are getting ready for something massive, but it doesn’t quite look like the same walls as where Forest is. Nor is Forest within the Imperial-esque bunker that the cast is running from as they launch into AT-AT’s.

For those reasons, I’m guessing that Forest is actually a foundational character for Jyn, someone who convinces her to join the Rebellion, but isn’t actually a part of the real mission. Which is a bit disappointing, given his pedigree, but it’s hard to judge several months before the movie comes out.

A Rumor That Won’t Die – But Should: No Bounty Hunters

There are a lot of rumors that have gone unconfirmed because of this trailer, which is fine. That’s how it should be. Even if these things are true, I’d rather go into the theater not knowing a lot of what’s going to happen, rather than seeing nearly everything in the trailer (Ahem Batman v. Superman).

One of the most persistent rumors I’ve seen, and I don’t really give much credence to, is that Ben Mendolsohn’s character actually recruits a metric butt-ton of famous bounty hunters to hunt down Jyn and co. I mean, we’re talking Boba Fett, IG-88, Dengar, Bossk, Zuckus, 4LOM, and Cad Bane. Did I forget anyone? I think that’s literally every bounty hunter we’ve ever seen. I’ve always found it a bit of a ridiculous rumor, because that would be waaaaayyy too many famous bounty hunters failing to kill people.

What the trailer seems to imply is that the Empire is doing it themselves, which makes sense. This is a highly sensitive and highly secret operation. Why the heck would the Empire hire bounty hunters to hunt down the Rebels that stole their super-secret plans to their super-secret battle station. That’s just stupid. They have their own damn army, and their own highly-trained Elite troops.

Let this rumor die already.

No Sign of Darth Vader or Tarkin

It’s also notable that the big shots don’t make an appearance here. I wouldn’t expect Vader, if he’s even in the movie, until the 2nd official trailer. Normally a couple months out is when Disney reveals something mind-blowing (think Spiderman in Civil War).

And apparently Vader’s scene in this movie would be terrifying. Making Star Wars actually scooped this rumor, referencing storyboards describing how Darth Vader could levitate, impale, and decapitate rebel soldiers, even using some as human shields. Normally, MSW has a pretty good track record on this stuff, but no art or actual storyboards have ever been leaked. Nor has James Earl Jones (who seems perfectly willing to do voice work for Disney per Rebels & Clone Wars) been announced in the official cast list.

This is also probably a pre-production leak, based on the fact that the guy who made the Darth Vader mask is on the production crew. But considering we’ve already seen a bunch of new masks for this movie, it’s highly possible that Darth Vader had nothing to do with it. I’ll believe Darth Vader’s in it when I see it.

Also, Grand Moff Tarkin, played by the late Peter Cushing in A New Hope, is rumored to be in this movie. But wait, he’s dead? Correct. The rumor says they are using some of the most advanced CGI technologies ever used to virtually re-create Peter Cushing. Ugh. We haven’t seen him in this trailer, and I hope we don’t. It strikes me as a bit tasteless otherwise.

What Do You Think?

Alright, I’ve blathered on enough for one trailer. Two-minute trailer, 3,500 words. Makes sense for me I guess.

Clearly, I’m excited about this movie. I love the idea of seeing another side of Star Wars. Just as Disney has been bringing different story archetypes to Marvel, they’re also doing the same thing for Star Wars. It’s about time we see Star Wars as something other than a fun space opera.

Don’t get me wrong, I love space opera as much as any Star Wars fan. But I’m also looking forward to seeing Star Wars represented in a different light. This trailer wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I’m still pretty excited nonetheless. It’s the right kind of tone, the right kind of characters (mostly), and some of the most talented actors around. Sounds like a good combination to me.

Mike Lohnash