The Star Wars films have always revolved around the Skywalker family over the generations, focusing on how these individuals have learned to master the Force, either embracing the light or the dark side along the way. But Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first Star Wars film that will not focus on the Skywalkers, or - it seems - the Force. Instead, this first standalone film of the franchise will focus on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and the Rebel mission to get the Death Star plans from the Empire.
Rogue One is already the most anticipated film of the year according to Fandango.com, and given the success of The Force Awakens (2015), it's not surprising. Since Episode VII capitalized heavily on fan nostalgia for the original trilogy, it seems to follow that Rogue One, which will be heavily linked to and feature characters from Episode IV, could strike a similarly positive chord with fans.
The first teaser trailer for Rogue One was released last week and, for every question that the trailer answered, it seems that there are ten new questions that we now have to ask. The first look at Rogue One does cement the premise of the film and give a first look at many of the new characters, but because it shows a variety of separate moments, it leaves a lot of holes in how those moments fit together. Here are 10 Questions We Have After the Rogue One Trailer:
The only official information on where Rogue One (2016) fits into the Star Wars timeline is that the events take place between Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977). Rogue One appears to take place after the events of the television show Star Wars: Rebels (2014), but it is possible that the upcoming seasons of Rebels could overlap with Rogue One. Other canonical mediums, such as the novel Tarkin, also appear to take place before Rogue One, since they predate the construction of the Death Star.
If Rogue One does take place after Rebels, then the events of Rogue One are likely to occur just before the beginning of A New Hope. The first season of Rebels occurred four or five years before A New Hope and, subsequently, each season of Rebels has taken audiences closer and closer to the beginning of Episode IV. It is likely - but no - that Rogue One takes place directly after Star Wars: Rebels and directly before A New Hope.
This, of course, leads to more questions - where have all of these new characters gone by the time Princess Leia has gotten the Death Star plans, or when Luke flies against the Death Star? It seems likely that some major characters will die over the course of Rogue One.
Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One, has spoken about the lack of Jedi in the film, saying:
The absence of the Jedi is omnipresent in the film.
It's unclear, however, what that entails, especially given that Star Wars: Rebels, which is understood to directly proceed Rogue One, features multiple characters who are Jedi. Is Edwards talking about the universe in which the film takes place or simply the scope of the film? He could mean that the Jedi are not present in the events of his film, but he could also be giving fans a clue that things do not bode well for the Jedi characters in Star Wars: Rebels.
If the absence is truly felt in the film, then Edwards may use Rogue One to bridge the gap between films and illustrate a cultural shift of skepticism towards the Force. It is an opportunity to explore how attitudes toward the Force change and how the Force comes to be thought of as a myth.
During the promotion of The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams made it clear that Kylo Ren was not a Sith, even though he was a dark Force user. Similarly, Edwards' comments about the Jedi, a specific order of Force users, may not mean that fans won't see the Force or Force users in action; it simply depends on how literal Edwards is being.
The trailer features Donnie Yen as a blind character that fights off stormtroopers using a stick. He appears to be using martial arts, known in the Star Wars universe as Teräs Käsi, which was also utilized by some Jedi and other Force users. It is possible, then, that Donnie Yen's character, if not a Jedi, is still a Force-sensitive ally for the Rebel Alliance.
One of the biggest reveals of the trailer was the first look at Ben Mendelsohn's character, a yet-to-be-named villain in a particularly striking outfit. Fans of Star Wars Legends were quick to point out that Mendelsohn's rank is that of a grand admiral - and that his white uniform bears resemblance to fan-favorite Grand Admiral Thrawn. This has led some viewers to think that Mendelsohn may even be playing Thrawn, despite the fact that, in Legends, Thrawn is a blue-skinned Chiss.
Other viewers have speculated that Mendelsohn may be playing Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin (who was played by Peter Cushing in A New Hope). While Mendelsohn shares some physical similarities to Tarkin, the new canon timeline does not lend itself to this theory - Tarkin had already achieved the rank of Grand Moff (which is above Grand Admiral) in the novel Tarkin, which predates the construction of the Death Star.
Given these problems, while it is possible that Mendelsohn is playing either Thrawn or Tarkin, it seems most likely that he is playing a new antagonist. That being said, viewers can only speculate about his character for now.
The Casino Royale (2006) and Hannibal (2013) star has said that he isn't playing a bad guy this time around - but for some reason, it's hard to believe that he isn't a villain... It's probably because he often plays the villain. He also said that his character's "actually" not a bad guy, which doesn't make him sound so confident.
Then again, Mikkelsen could be telling the truth. There is a rumor that Mikkelsen is playing a scientist who designed the Death Star and feels guilty - so his character may have been bad, or working for the bad guys, but ultimately might prove to help the Rebel Alliance. This same rumor states that Mikkelsen's character, Galen, is the father of Jyn Erso, which would definitely complicate the story.
This rumor wasn't proven by the most recent trailer, but it wasn't disproved either. At this point, Mikkelsen's absence could mean just about anything. It seems that the creative team is choosing to save that reveal for a later date.
Jyn Erso is the central character of Rogue One, but her allegiance is put into question - as a rebel among rebels, it's difficult to tell whose side she is on. For one thing, we see her in cuffs within the Rebel base on Yavin IV, and it's clear that Mon Mothma is less than pleased by Erso's actions. In a later shot, we see Erso dressed in what appears to be a TIE fighter pilot uniform. Because the trailer does not account for chronology, it's unclear if Erso is disguising herself as an Imperial troop (like Luke and Han disguise themselves as stormtroopers in A New Hope) or if she defects (like Finn in The Force Awakens). If her father is affiliated with the Empire, perhaps she followed in his footsteps.
Beyond that, very little is known about Jyn Erso. Is she a loyal member of the Rebel alliance, or is she a mercenary who simply possesses the skills required for a specific job? Does she have personal ties with or a personal vendetta against the Empire?
Despite the absence of some new and old characters, there are a number of characters who were revealed in the first trailer. Even with these reveals, however, the relationships between these characters remain a mystery. It's unclear what Jyn Erso's - one of the few characters who has a name at this point - relationship to Diego Luna's character is, or to Forest Whitaker's, or to Donnie Yen's. Do they have any overlapping pasts? Are they brought together specifically for a secret Rebel mission? Are they all even allies? And this is only speculating with the members of the ensemble cast who were shown in the trailer, discounting a number of (assumed) major players who have yet to appear.
At the moment, each character seems to exist in their own snapshot of a world, and the bonds that they have or will formed are yet to be determined.
It was announced that Alan Tudyk would play a motion capture character in Rogue One. Tudyk is perhaps best known for playing Wash on Joss Whedon's Firefly (2003) and Serenity (2005) - but he also did motion capture work as Sonny, the robot of I, Robot (2004), pictured above.
Because Tudyk's voice does not appear, it is still unclear if the character that he plays was featured in the trailer. It is rumored that he plays the bipedal robot that is featured in multiple shots, including running alongside Jyn Erso. The trailer did not prove that this is Tudyk's character, and so fans are left to wait for an additional announcement.
The trailer features a shot of an unknown hooded figure walking towards and then kneeling in front of a machine that is flanked by the Emperor's Royal Guards. The identity of this figure is unknown, and it could easily be a familiar villain - like Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine - or a new villain. Since the cloak features a hood and appears to be black, it does not seem to be the same character as Ben Mendelsohn's character (although perhaps his admiral has a day and night cape), and Darth Vader is not known to wear a hood. The gait of the person's walk does not resemble Palpatine.
In addition to the identity of the hooded figure, the machine that they are walking towards is also obscure - it could be a communicator or a meditation chamber... or something we haven't seen before.
Perhaps the biggest question of all was, "Where's Vader?" Darth Vader is a character that is at the heart of the Star Wars franchise, and his presence and absence both greatly impact a Star Wars film. Because of this, it seems very unlikely that Edwards' team would avoid putting Vader in the movie at all (additionally, it appears that Vader has been cast!), but the size of Vader's role could vary greatly, from a primary villain to simply a cameo. The question is not whether or not audiences will see Vader, but rather, when and for how long. Will Lucasfilm save him for a final publicity moment - Rogue One's Sith version of "Chewie, we're home"? Or will Vader be only a dramatic blip, like Luke at the climax of The Force Awakens? Hopefully, the filmmakers will know not to use Vader so sparingly.
But the question of "Where's Vader?" can be applied to any of the characters that appear in A New Hope - will Palpatine play a role? Will young Han Solo appear? Could Admiral Ackbar or Lando Calrissian be featured? Mon Mothma's appearance in the trailer only paves the way for other characters and tie-ins to Episode IV.
The new Rogue One trailer may have created more questions than it gave answers. Do you have a question? Share it in the comments!