The rollout of information for this December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is revving up, as a report from EW has all sorts of details about the first live-action Star Wars spinoff. First confirming Darth Vader’s long-awaited return to the big screen, the outlet then revealed the names of the various Rebels and Imperials that will partake in the conflict. Just about every character’s identity was shared – with the exception of Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker’s role. He was being saved for his own special reveal.
The only clue that was available earlier in the day was that Whitaker was playing someone Star Wars completists would instantly recognize (and that even his appearance in the film differed from the teaser trailer). After debating who Whitaker could be portraying, fans were eagerly awaiting EW to come through with their latest scoop. Now they have, and fans of the Clone Wars television series will be very pleased.
Whitaker will bring to life Saw Gerrera, a character who first appeared in the season five episode “A War on Two Fronts.” There, Saw and his sister Steela were part of an insurgent group being trained (unofficially) by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Anakin’s apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Now, Saw is an ally of the Rebel Alliance (albeit one even the heroes are unsure of), looking to deliver a crushing blow to Darth Vader’s cause.
As many viewers know by now, just about every piece of Star Wars media (with the exception of LEGO video games) is part of one cohesive canon, under the guidance of the Lucasfilm story group. For those who have been keeping up on all aspects of the franchise, this is certainly an exciting development. It marks the first instance a character created for one of the television shows will have a sizable role in a film, bridging the gap between the various mediums. Up until this point, any non-movie canon characters appearing on the big screen were simply background figures (like Snap Wexley in The Force Awakens), serving mainly as Easter eggs for fans following along.
Described by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy as “a battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists,” it will be interesting to see how Gerrera is incorporated in Rogue One. He apparently has a tendency to do “questionable things” in his pursuit of fighting for what is right, so it sounds like he could be a bit of a wild card on the team. If Rogue One is to resemble a war drama, Gerrera could be the grizzled solider who has been through a lot in his time on the battlefield and will do whatever it takes to win. Saw was also mentioned in the recently published novel Bloodline, when a political rival of Princess Leia’s challenges her for supporting the “terrorist tactics” of the Rebellion, pointing to Gerrera specifically.
What remains to be seen is how much of Saw’s history will be alluded to in Rogue One. To date, the filmmakers have kept any references to the outside canon at the minimum, understanding that not everyone in the audience will be completely caught up by the time the latest movie premieres. That should be the case here as well, since Rogue One could very well be the first time certain fans see the character in action. Moviegoers should expect brief references to Clone Wars, but nothing substantial enough to distract from the story being told. Fans of the series will get a kick out of seeing a familiar face, and newcomers may become inclined to check the show out.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.