WARNING: This post contains POSSIBLE SPOILERS for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Lucasfilm is starting to get the ball rolling on their first live-action spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which hits theaters in December. Earlier this month, the studio released a teaser trailer for the project, setting up the band of Rebel Alliance heroes that will work together to steal the original Death Star plans. Outside of that basic setup, very little is known about the film, but more and more details are beginning to come out now.
Mads Mikkelsen recently revealed that he is portraying the father of Felicity Jones' protagonist Jyn Erso, establishing a potentially rich dynamic between the two characters that will serve as the movie's emotional center. The state of their relationship is just the latest in a long line of mysteries fans want answered, including which (if any) familiar faces they'll see on the big screen again. Given Rogue One's place in the timeline, there's a strong possibility some original trilogy characters (besides Mon Mothma) will show up - and rumors about Darth Vader refuse to die. While Mikkelsen won't say which ones are in Rogue One, his newest comments serve as both confirmation and fuel for more speculation.
In an interview with Standard Online, Mikkelsen was asked about the possibility of classic Star Wars characters appearing in director Gareth Edwards' film. Like Star Wars: The Force Awakens before it, it sounds like Rouge One will have a mix of the old and the new to balance nostalgia with fresh directions.
“Some of them – but I would reveal too much. There are iconic characters in our film and also characters you have never heard of. It’s a mix.”
Star Wars characters don't get more iconic than Darth Vader, so the safe bet is that the Sith Lord is one of the characters Mikkelsen is referencing. Vader's inclusion in the story would make sense, since Rogue One is set right before A New Hope and he would most likely be part of the Imperial forces trying to track down the Rebels. In addition, Vader is one of the most marketable figures in the franchise, so him being in Rogue One makes great business logic as well. In order to draw in casual audiences to the standalone disconnected from the main storyline, featuring Vader heavily in later promotional materials is a must. It's also possible that Emperor Palpatine could appear, as the trailer showed an image of a person bowing to someone (or something) flanked by royal guards.
Mikkelsen also touched upon a storytelling device Edwards is using in his installment: flashbacks. According to the actor, he has scenes with Jones and an unnamed actress playing a younger version of Jyn:
“I spend a lot of time with [Jones] and she’s a wonderful actress. I play her dad at the time of Felicity and I play her dad when she’s younger, so we jump back and forth in time.”
Viewers learned in the teaser that Jyn has been on her own since she was 15 years old, suggesting that she had some kind of falling out with her family during her teenage years. Earlier rumors about Mikkelsen's character claimed that he is a scientist who took over the Death Star project and fixed some flaws, only to regret his involvement later on. Should that prove true, Mikkelsen's work on the massive weapon could serve as the catalyst for Jyn leaving, as she disagrees with her father's actions. What's even more interesting is that the same rumor says Mikkelsen's character is the one who seeks out Jyn's help, so it will be fascinating to watch their interactions unfold.
All in all, it looks like the pieces are in place for another successful Star Wars movie. The combination of iconic characters with new faces worked very well in Episode VII, indicating that Lucasfilm understands how to pull that aspect off and please all parties. Plus, with talented actors like Mikkelsen and Jones possibly serving as the heart of the narrative, there's a chance that Rogue One delivers some emotionally engaging content to compliment the action sequences.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in 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.
Source: Standard Online