The third – and final – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer is here, just two months before the film will finally land in theaters. And it turns out the long wait for all the new footage was more than worth it – new snippets of this first “anthology” Star Wars installment’s various action set pieces, character beats, and, even, storyline are a-plenty, whetting fans’ appetites for the home stretch. We see glimpses of Jyn Erso’s past, understand how her family history is tied to the Empire, and see some of the best action we’ve seen in any Star Wars film to date.
In fact, we think there are so many clues packed into this two-minute trailer, we had to list ‘em all out and explore them in some depth. Here, then, are the 14 Things We Learned from the New Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer – and be sure to add any that we may have missed in the comments section.
14. The meaning of “Rogue One”
When Jyn Erso’s (Felicity Jones) motley crew of various Rebels is aboard their vessel and, presumably, prepping for some type of action, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a former Imperial enforcer droid, informs them that their wingmen are asking for a call sign. “Rogue,” Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), another former Imperial (this time, a pilot), says. “Rogue One.” (Okay, okay – we fully admit that there is another possible scenario this scene may fall into, although one that is perhaps not as likely: the Rebel team is attempting to infiltrate Imperial space.)
While many had already guessed that the name Rogue One derived from the main cast’s call sign, it’s nice to get official confirmation from Lucasfilm on the matter. It’s also interesting to see if their name becomes something of an ongoing narrative device, as the unit’s eventual coming together and forming a shared identity seems to play such a large role in the story; “Rogue One” can become just as much of an indicator of character or thematic progression as “Dark Knight” was in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
13. How Jyn Erso “joins” the Rebellion
Previous trailers had hinted at Jyn’s prisoner backstory and clearly established that she was not a proper member of the Rebel Alliance; her testy standoff with Rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) more than attests to this. However, what we didn’t know until just today was that it was none other than the Rebellion that broke Jyn out of jail, which changes the context of their interpersonal dynamics subtly but thoroughly.
It also establishes something of a parallel to the previous Star Wars trilogies (interesting for a movie that is supposed to be so different from all of its predecessors): each time, whatever organization that represents the light side of the Force (the Jedi, the Rebel Alliance, the Resistance) must rely on an outsider to come in and rally them to the finish line, whether that be Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), or Rey (Daisy Ridley).
12. It’s a stealth mission
Most of the missions that we’ve seen undertaken in the various Star Wars films have been more overt in nature and more action-based in execution (more on this very point in just a moment) – attacking the Death Star, knocking out a shield generator on Endor, rescuing a Jedi strike team on Geonosis. What Rogue One offers audiences is an interesting twist on this formula, showing Jyn Erso’s crew relying on stealth and subterfuge in order to infiltrate highly defended Imperial outposts, such as the one on Scarif, the tropical planet that has been described by Lucasfilm as being defended by a huge garrison and featuring “impenetrable” deflector shields (and which has also been added to Star Wars: Battlefront’s playable lineup).
Again, this is a rather basic plot point that many had probably already deduced, based upon all the previously released information, but it’s nonetheless good to get actual confirmation on – not to mention its being a refreshing change of pace. When combined with the film’s emphasis on a larger ensemble as opposed to just a trio of main characters and more gritty action than Force-powered fisticuffs, fans should be in for a real treat this Christmas.
11. A return to space
Episode IV: A New Hope made its spacecraft dogfights the stuff of cinematic legend, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi doubled down on the visual effects and visceral nature of the combat. Since then, the Star Wars films have largely opted to focus on more land-based battles, with last year’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens threading the needle a bit by only depicting in-atmosphere dogfights (something which both technology and story precluded before).
Although just a tiny glimpse, this latest trailer clearly shows Rogue One taking its action back to the stars, showing a squadron of X-wings taking out – or trying to take out, at the very least – the massive drydock in orbit around Scarif, which is able to service several Star Destroyers simultaneously. This is undoubtedly just a small snippet of the starfighter action, but it’s nonetheless nice to see a bit of the classic Star Wars that Disney has spent so much time talking about over the past four years come crashing back to the screen.
10. The most action of any Star Wars yet
That Rogue One would potentially contain the biggest amount of action scenes from any Star Wars installment is not surprising in the least; not only did previous trailers and photos feature a goodly number of them, but director Gareth Edwards has repeatedly mentioned how his anthology movie would be a grittier, more war-based adventure rather than the Jedi-vs.-Sith antics from the main saga.
Still, getting the nice cross-section of all the different types of action that will be featured in the film – undercover insertions, AT-STs mowing down people in the streets, martial-arts fights, those space-based dogfights – is nothing short of stunning, especially considering that most of these action beats have never before been seen in the franchise (we’re looking at you, warrior-monk Chirrut Imwe [Donnie Yen]). Even more importantly, this diversity arguably does the most to sell what Disney and Lucasfilm initially promised about these anthologies: they can do things and go places, both literally and figuratively, that no mainline chapter can.
9. The most lived-in Star Wars yet
Much was made of the original Star Wars’s aesthetic when it bowed 39 years ago, with its “lived-in” future contrasting so heavily with Star Trek’s pristine reality (and inspiring the grungy, horror-fueled Alien franchise). While the prequel trilogy deliberately took a turn away from this style, depicting a cleaner, happier time in that galaxy far, far away, Rogue One seems to jump on the original idea with a vengeance: Jedha, the Ottoman-inspired planet that features Imperial-occupied marketplaces and narrow, twisting alleyways, has a quality that seems to leap straight from various holy cities in the real-world Middle East, from Jerusalem to Mecca (appropriate, given that it’s a holy planet in the SW canon). This location alone should give a whole new meaning to the term “populated.”
Speaking of which, this one trailer alone seems to contain more extras than probably any other previous installment in the franchise, helping to flesh out – literally – the movie’s sense of place and the series’s galactic hustle-and-bustle, whether it be the halls of the Rebellion’s secret base on Yavin IV or the aforementioned streets of Jedha. It’s already an impressively high bar, and it’ll be interesting to see how Rian Johnson can top it in Episode VIII.
8. Carrying the torch of the Force
The prequels showed audiences how prevalent the Jedi Knights were, and how their order was known by people all throughout the galaxy, whether they were denizens of the Old Republic or not. The original films, however, depicted the “ancient” Jedi as a “dead religion,” with the Galactic Empire imposing a very strict form of atheism, as it were, with the sequels (thus far) carrying this idea even further, depicting the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker, as more a figure of myth than a flesh-and-blood man.
Rogue One is intended to help smooth out this transition, depicting a galaxy that, yes, is told to no longer believe in the existence of the Force but that still features various peoples who not only continue to do so, but who make their pilgrimage to Jedha, a planet crucial to the Jedi Order’s existence way back when. One of the planet’s residents, Chirrut Imwe, even boldly declares in the trailer, “The Force is strong” – with Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) immediately adding, “Makes 10 men feel like 100.”
Most interesting, however, is the possibility that this “Force cult” that seems to be centered on Jedha directly leads to the creation of the Church of the Force, one of whose adherents, Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow), plays a small-but-crucial role in The Force Awakens.
7. No Geonosians
Rogue One may be working double-time to maintain – or establish – continuity with both the original and sequel films, but beyond the inclusion of the character Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who was originally introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, there seems to be no (overt) references to the prequel period. This most painfully becomes obvious when the trailer lingers on the Imperial side of the equation, showing Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and his Death Troopers but no Geonosians, those alien drones that were initially employed by Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) to design the Death Star back during the Clone Wars and who, according to creator George Lucas on the commentary track for Episode II: Attack of the Clones, were the battle station’s construction workers, as well.
Then again, this omission might actually work to the saga’s benefit; since Lucasfilm officially describes Krennic’s role as completing the “long-delayed” mega-weapon, this initial Star Wars Story might explain how a project that got well underway 19 years earlier still hasn’t found itself completed – a question many fans had upon their first viewing of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
6. Homages galore
J.J. Abrams, the director of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, never let fans forget throughout all of his many interviews that he wanted to step away from the CG-heavy production style of the prequels in favor of the more practical nature of the original film. And Rogue One, in turn, takes place literally moments before Episode IV: A New Hope, continuing the 1970s vibe whether it deliberately wanted to or not.
What we didn’t know before this latest trailer dropped this morning, however, was just how much that original Star Wars (plus its sequels) was going to permeate this production in the form of a series of homages: Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) looking out over the horizon of his homeplanet while standing next to that iconic tower; Darth Vader’s smoke-filled entrance; the many scenes on Yavin IV, with its famed pyramids; and, finally, the shot from within the cockpit of Jyn’s ship as it shoots off into hyperspace, recalling the same exact vantage point from within the Millennium Falcon.
5. A family affair
For all that Rogue One is supposed to be so fundamentally different from its cinematic brethren in the Star Wars universe, its core dynamic has now irrefutably been revealed to be about family relationships – in this case, between a father and his daughter, and how the one has been subverted by the dark side, thereby forcing the other to rescue him through the light (no, that doesn’t sound like Anakin and Luke Skywalker at all).
But such a revelation also means that the heart of the film will revolve around the Ersos, adding a personal dimension that has been missing from the marketing materials up until this point. It also paints Jyn in a far more sympathetic light, as her cold interactions with the Rebel leaders in the beginning of the first trailer perhaps left an emotionally distant taste in viewers’ mouths.
This may also point to how the movie, which obviously has a plot that is doomed to failure (in terms of the crews’ lives, at the least, and not in the success of smuggling the Death Star’s plans to the Rebellion), can still have a satisfying amount of closure, emotionally and thematically.
4. There are flashbacks!
Despite all the various time jumps that occur in between the various Star Wars movies – there’s 10 years that pass in between Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and three between A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – there curiously has never been any flashbacks.
Until last year, that is. Force Awakens features a montage when Rey picks up Anakin’s lightsaber within the bowels of Maz Kanata’s (Lupita Nyong’o) castle, showing various tidbits that have taken place in the past, including Rey’s abandonment on the remote desert planet of Jakku (then again, there were also some obvious flash-forwards, including Rey’s duel in the snow with Kylo Ren [Adam Driver]). Now, Rogue One delivers flashbacks to Jyn’s childhood, when her father is first taken by Director Krennic, this time couched in the form of dreams (while Jyn nods off in her Imperial jail cell). It should be interesting to see how else both this installment and the future sequels can continue to push the franchise’s standard storytelling methodology.
3. A close-up look at the Rebellion
For as much as the original trilogy was all about the Galactic Civil War, our focus stayed overwhelmingly with our trio of main characters; glimpses at either the leadership of the Rebellion or of the rest of the Imperial structure beyond the ruling Dark Lords of the Sith are fleeting, at best.
This has already started to change with Star Wars: Rebels, which has, over the course of its three seasons, been slowly charting the formation of the Rebel Alliance, and Rogue One looks set to provide a more in-depth examination on the big screen (which is only helped by its decision to have the most lived-in SW yet, as noted above). There seem to be tons of different types of extras gathered around Mon Mothma’s central command station on Yavin IV, meant to represent all the different worlds and peoples that comprise the movement but also meant, perhaps, to flesh out all the different factions that constitute the Alliance, as well. Such a move would not only be a throwback to the politics-heavy prequels, but could also help chart out a closer look at the New Republic in Episode VIII, as well.
2. Darth Vader’s role
Okay – this is where we leave the safe ground of direct information and start to climb up the slippery slope of speculation and supposition.
Given the few scant scenes that Lord Vader appears in in the trailer (and, we have to assume, the finished film, as well), and given the flow of all the other shots, one can provisionally assemble a rough model of how – and why – the Dark Lord of the Sith enters the picture. Here it goes: Orson Krennic’s goal of taking control of the failing Death Star project and actually completing it is starting to fall apart, in no small part because of Jyn Erso’s Rebels arriving on the scene to stir up some trouble. Nervous that the crown jewel of his galactic machinations will become endangered once again, Emperor Palpatine dispatches his most loyal – and fearsome – servant to personally oversee the final stages of construction.
1. Saw Gerrera’s fate
All right – now on to a piece of speculation even more out-there than our Darth Vader hypothesis.
The extremist Saw Gerrera – who, once again, already has quite the fierce reputation from the Expanded Universe of novels, comic books, short stories, and television series – appears to be the last member of Jyn Erso’s crew to join up; he’s been busy on Jedha, attempting to wage an insurgency against the Imperial occupation there. Given his age, his already-dire physical ailments, the intensity of some of his lines of dialogue (“Save the Rebellion! Save the dream!”), and, finally, given the likelihood that all of the main cast dies, anyway, it’s our best guess that we’ll see Saw perish on-screen, in a blaze of glory that will serve to further motivate Jyn’s team – and to appropriately ratchet up the tension as we approach the latter half of the film, of course. Maybe we’ll even get to see Vader himself do the honors, which would only be appropriate, given Saw and Anakin’s interactions in The Clone Wars.
NEXT: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer Stills
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.