With Disney producing Star Wars movies on an annual basis for the foreseeable future (perhaps well into the 2030s), there's a lot of pressure on each installment to bring something new to the table. Franchise fatigue can be a real thing, and the last thing Lucasfilm wants to do is constantly retread old ground as fans return to the galaxy far, far away. Sometimes, combating this can be done by injecting a new tone into the series - as was the case with the war-inspired Rogue One. Other times, the filmmakers introduce different characters or concepts to put a fresh spin on the familiar.
Each Star Wars film has helped the universe expand with fresh vehicles that look to give audiences something they haven't seen before. Obviously, there's a marketing element here (since everything can be turned into new toys that will sell like hotcakes on Force Friday), but it's still fun to watch them in action on the big screen. Imperial walkers have been featured heavily throughout many of the films set in the Galactic Civil War era, and now that the old Empire has become the First Order, they're about to get an upgrade in that department for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The latest rumor from Making Star Wars details so-called "super walkers" the First Order will be using in a "large sequence" from the film. During production, they were lovingly referred to as "Gorilla walkers" since physically they resemble giant apes. The front arms are said to be "firmly planted on the ground" and the walkers are considerably larger than the old AT-ATs the Empire used during the Battle of Hoth to wipe out the Rebels. Making Star Wars has a sketch and a drawing by Lumberjack Nick to illustrate what these could ultimately look like.
Other key features of the Gorilla walkers include thick armor and what's described as a crossbar that lets the legs "scoop forward and then then scoop back." They're said to be quicker than the AT-ATs, so they should prove to be formidable on the battle field when the Resistance is attempting to take them out. From the sound of it, it may not be as simple as using harpoons and tow cables, and the methods used to destroy the AT-ACTs in Rogue One will essentially be useless. Tough challenges like this are always interesting to watch, since they push the heroes to the limit as they face insurmountable odds. The First Order may have been dealt a heavy blow at Starkiller, but they're still as well-resourced as ever.
As exciting as this sounds, it may be a while before fans actually get to see the Gorilla walkers for themselves. It's true the Last Jedi teaser is expected to premiere at Star Wars Celebration in a few weeks, but as the first trailer, its primary goal will be to establish the characters and stories, offering only brief hints of what's to come. It's plausible that these new vehicles will be showcased later on in marketing (perhaps for an IMAX trailer) when the visual effects are finalized and Lucasfilm wants to highlight some breathtaking action. Regardless, it seems like Rian Johnson has quite a treat in store for fans.
Source: Making Star Wars
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018