Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn)[/caption]
We’ve been waiting quite a long time for the second trailer from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – we all originally thought that we would be receiving it during Star Wars Celebration last month, and while it did manage to premiere there, it was meant only for the crowd in London. (And then we all ended up waiting even longer during NBC’s Olympics coverage last night, as the network didn’t deem fit to air the Rogue One sneak peek until some two-and-a-half hours into its sporting coverage.)
And now that it’s here, it’s proven to be… well, we won’t use the word anticlimactic, since nearly any Star Wars teaser stirs our hearts, but it did rely rather heavily on footage from the previous trailer. Still, there’s a few tidbits – not to mention speculation – to wring from last night’s two minutes of footage, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.
Without further ado, here are the Biggest Reveals From The New Rogue One Trailer.
K-2SO revealed at last
Let’s get the most obvious hint out of the way first.
K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the former Imperial enforcer droid that has been reprogrammed by the Rebels to help them on their various missions against the Empire, has been much-discussed and -anticipated, and while we have gotten a few snippets of him here and there (such as in the first teaser), we’ve yet to see him in his full glory – or speaking with the accent that Tudyk opted to utilize for the character.
And what a voice it is! Although practical and no-nonsense, and quite as far removed as an AI can get from the ubiquitous C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Kaytoo nonetheless has a streak of humor running through him (casually telling Jyn Erso [Felicity Jones] that he won’t kill her, since she’s a friend to the Rebellion), and he features that lovely personality trait that Threepio constantly exhibits across all of his appearances: stating the impossible statistics that are in front of the crew (“There’s a 97.6% chance of failure”). Given just how dark this film looks – director Gareth Edwards has consistently stated that this is more a war movie than anything else – it seems that Kaytoo’s comedic relief will come as a welcome break from the tension.
(And for all those wondering just where, exactly, the Imperial enforcer droid pops up in the [new] Star Wars canon, don’t bother looking – this particular model has been created exclusively for this first “Anthology” film, which adds to its excitement but which could also complicate the timeline a bit.)
Cassian Andor’s backstory
Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, after featuring prominently (well, at least visually) in the first trailer, finally gets a bit more to say – and it reveals a lot about his personality, his specific mission in the film, and what his backstory is.
Let’s address the basics before anything else: Cassian is a recruiter for the Rebel Alliance, going out to various planets and finding those peculiar individuals who have the combined qualities of being resentful towards the Empire and brash enough to do something about it. (It would seem his best find was none other than K-2SO, whom he freed from his Imperial programming.)
Though Andor didn’t recruit Jyn, he is her handler, the one tasked with ensuring the erstwhile criminal follows her orders and ensures a victory for the Rebellion. While this information may be old, the relationship that forms between them is new material: “If you’re really doing this,” he tells Jyn at one point in the new footage, “I want to help” – hinting at the bond that grows between them in the film (which is only solidified by the trailer’s end, when, after Erso asks her motley crew, “Are you with me?” he answers with a definite “All the way”).
The last bit that we get further established about his character can be cobbled together from various sources and cemented in the sneak peek, and it just may end up being the most narratively salient point: when combined with his apparent programming ability and handiness with a blaster, the fact that he seems to more than know his way around a cockpit (he’s spotted being Jyn’s co-pilot/navigator) not only underscores his importance to the Alliance, but also may prove to be the way that Lucasfilm can implement his character across the Expanded Universe.
A first peek at Bodhi Rook
Of all the marketing materials – especially the trailers – to be released thus far, there are clearly a handful of standout characters, the ones who will, undoubtedly, be the main leads in the finished movie: Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), and Cassian Andor.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a few Rebels who have consistently had the spotlight pass them over, with Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) being at the forefront. Though he doesn’t get any dialogue in last night’s new footage – and though he barely even registers in it at all – there is one specific shot that is meant to establish him to the general movie-going audience (the ones who don’t follow every single interview or press release) and to simultaneously hint at his personality. After Kaytoo gives the odds of their mission’s success, Bodhi gives a look over his shoulder at Cassian and his droid, and it’s one of pure anxiousness.
That, in a nutshell, is the character. Having been a cargo pilot working for the Empire, Rook isn’t a starfighter jockey, a martial arts warrior, or a hardened insurgent mastermind; he’s literally just an ordinary galactic citizen (perhaps the first to be featured in any Star Wars film as a protagonist), making him the most basic and straightforward of the cast.
This is why nervousness never seems to leave him, and this is why he may be one of the most important elements of Rogue One: he will ground the story in a way that Han Solo (Harrison Ford) did in the original installment (that’s Episode IV: A New Hope, for all those playing along at home), helping to make the fantastical all the more believable.
Chirrut Imwe speaks
Chirrut Imwe is one of the most interesting parts of this first Star Wars Story, as he represents, just like Bodhi Rook, the very first attempt at branching the overarching franchise into a new direction: he is, essentially, a non-Jedi Jedi Knight, a man who believes in the precepts of the Force even if he has no sensitivity to it, who uses sheer mental discipline to attain a certain physical prowess.
And that’s the other new element he brings to the SW table: martial arts. Neither the movie nor the various television series have ever opted to go down the more traditional kung-fu cinematic route before, and while this particular facet of the character (and the movie) is old hat now – it was one of the biggest highlights of the first Rogue One trailer, after all – the rationale for Chirrut’s physical abilities is at long last addressed beyond interviews or statements from the studio. It’s just a brief taste, but it’s enough to sell this new, somewhat risky aspect.
Finally, that lone line of dialogue – “I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it” – does more than just serve as exposition; it’s also, arguably, a callback to the prequel trilogy, particularly that famous Yoda (Frank Oz) monologue from Episode I: The Phantom Menace, when the wizened Jedi Master tells young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) that fear is the path to the dark side. Given how Episode VII: The Force Awakens included a (brief) reference to the Balance of the Force, it’s not unrealistic at all to think this is a continuation of drawing on all the franchise.
More from Saw Gerrera
Although Jyn Erso may be the movie’s lead, and though Chirrut Imwe represents the biggest break in the cinematic language of the franchise, it is Saw Gerrera that best illustrates the new Lucasfilm’s approach to its now-shared-universe storytelling: originally introduced in the TV series The Clone Wars, he has since gone on to have his character and historical influence built up in such Expanded Universe installments as Rebels, Clone Wars’s television follow-up, and the novel Bloodline (which was doubtlessly done in order to help prepare for his introduction into the live-action format). Lucasfilm and Disney have been long hinting at such multimedia coordination and crossovers as they continue to fire up their around-the-clock Star Wars release machine (you can read all about this in our exploration of Saw Gerrera).
For all those viewers who have no idea about any of this rich, cross-promotional history, however, Gerrera’s little speech that opens the new teaser goes a long way to establishing his past, illustrating his rather extreme nature (which is fully on display in the original teaser, in which Saw presses the untested Erso on what will happen when her mission goes south). One could also infer from this exchange that the Clone Wars veteran has had a resistance cell operating on the moon of Jedha, where most of Rogue One’s action seems to be set, for some time, and that Jyn and her team are attempting to coordinate with Gerrera in order to help achieve their objective(s).
Orson Krennic is fuming mad
The one character that is still, to this day, the most mysterious – in either the marketing materials or in interviews with the cast and crew – is Orson Krennic, the white-clad man who can be seen charging onto the battlefield, his cape flapping behind him, in the previous teaser. While we now know he is a military director who has latched onto the completion of the Death Star as a means of climbing the Imperial ladder and currying favor with Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) himself, nothing in the aired footage thus far has ever established such a role or backstory.
What is hinted at is something a lot less expositional and more visceral: his sole shot in the second trailer is of him strolling towards a viewport, presumably on the Death Star, as a planet comes into view, with a look of pure rage on his face. Though admittedly not much to go on, it does suggest a loose timetable of events, starting with Jyn and the Rebels’ arrival on Jedha, their complication of some important Imperial work there (more on this in just a moment), and Krennic’s extreme displeasure of the whole Death Star project blowing up in his face, ruining his career.
This could also be where the presence of the Dark Lords of the Sith come into play – we already know that Darth Vader is in the film, and there’s that already-legendary shot from the first trailer that shows some dark side-aligned figure entering a chamber that is flanked by the Emperor’s personal guard. Perhaps they’ve been deployed by Palpatine in order to ensure that Orson doesn’t falter from his path, which could lead to…
A major weapons test is imminent
“A major weapons test is imminent” is a phrase that features heavily in both trailers, spoken by Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) to, it appears, Jyn Erso, when describing her crucially important mission to her. In the teaser, one wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that a “major weapons test” is all that the still-fledgling Rebel Alliance knows of the Death Star, with the heroine’s job being to attain as much intel on it as possible. In the context of this footage, however, one could argue that maybe the weapons test applies less to the floating battle station itself and more to an actual test that the Death Star is going to actually implement – against Jedha, possibly Orson Krennic’s retaliation for the difficulties that the planet (and Jyn Erso) has been providing for him.
There is, of course, a chronological danger here, as is present in so many prequels (including George Lucas’s own trilogy): seeing the Death Star fire and destroy another celestial body, even if it’s just a moon, would dramatically undercut the impact and unprecedented nature of the destruction of Alderaan – which was also, of course, supposed to be the weapon’s first deployment. Then again, there’s another danger present, as well, one relegated to the specific storytelling requirements of Rogue One specifically: if the whole movie spends a great deal of time building up the mystique, majesty, and power of the Death Star, then not firing it would be the literal definition of an anticlimax. This is a delicate balance that Gareth Edwards needs to maintain, and one that may very well provide a zero-sum outcome.
Darth Vader’s possible role
We’ve already speculated on how Sith Lord Darth Vader’s presence is accounted for in the film, but that leaves just what his payoff will be. We actually have two guesses on this front.
Before we dive into them, however, it’s first necessary to quickly recap what we know about Jedha. Its role as the location where “the special resources needed to build lightsabers” (most likely Kyber crystals, if the new Lucasfilm opts to use the old continuity’s mythology) are located means that it’s strategically important for the Empire to occupy the moon, and it also means that it’s become something of a pilgrimage site for those who still remember and mourn the Jedi Order (or for those like Chirrut Imwe, who adhere to the tents of the Force). In short, we could call this a Force-sensitive planetoid.
Now, onto the first possibility for why Vader is in the film. The former Anakin Skywalker may be the one who belays Orson Krennic’s order to destroy Jedha, given its importance to the Force (and, just perhaps, as a sop to the small part of him that is still Anakin and, therefore, still a Jedi). This would provide a narratively-valid way to preserve the continuity of A New Hope (in theory, at least).
Secondly, Lord Vader may be present in order to be the method of our protagonists’ destruction; this movie doesn’t seem destined, in terms of either timeline or tone, to boast a happy ending, and what more fitting a way to have Jyn and her team be defeated than by the fearsome Dark Lord himself? It would make his grand entrance in the beginning of Episode IV all the grander.
The atmospherics of combat
This new trailer opens with some rather epic shots of Jedha, and the Imperial occupation of it. The filmmakers have mentioned that they modeled the desert moon loosely after the Middle East, generally, and Mecca, specifically, utilizing narrow alleyways and throngs of people (pilgrims?) to create the sense and feel of something of a holy site.
Completing the contemporary paralleling is the imagery of occupation – exactly what the United States is currently doing in both Afghanistan and Iraq – including the constant hustle-and-bustle of Imperial shuttles and TIE fighters swirling over the landscape but dominated, quite literally, by a massive Star Destroyer hovering above what we can only assume is Jedha’s capital city. More than its sociopolitical overtones (which fit with, say, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’s Vietnam War-era allusions, though nowhere near as directly), it’s the sheer beauty – and chilling effect – of the shots that jump straight to one’s mind; it’s yet another first for a Star Wars film, which plays up the premise and potential both of the “anthology” installments rather nicely. (Providing the first on-the-big-screen depiction of a Star Destroyer in planetary atmosphere may also go a long way to counterbalancing the “been there, done that” baggage of the Death Star, as well.)
It also potentially hits at something that is, itself, an extremely recent addition to the SW cinematic pantheon: in-atmosphere combat. While space dogfights have been a mainstay since the very beginning, all the way back in 1977, and while ground battles followed shortly thereafter in 1980, it wasn’t until just last year, with The Force Awakens, that atmospheric conflicts were first seen. Maybe the Disney Lucasfilm wants to double-down on what may ultimately prove to be one of its hallmark touches during its tenure of the franchise.
What was your favorite scene in the new trailer? What hints or clues did we miss from those shots already discussed? Let us know in the comments.
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.
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