With the first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story now online and playing in an endless loop on everyone’s screen, we’ve finally gotten our first full look at the first ever standalone Star Wars spinoff movie, and it’s definitely a different take on the galaxy far, far away. It’s unlike any Star Wars movie we’ve seen before.
Sure, there’s Stormtroopers, X-Wings, AT-ATs, Star Destroyers, and a (still in one piece) Death Star, but this trailer demonstrates a visual appeal and tone that hasn’t been present in any of the 7 live-action installments preceding it.
Outside of being beholden to established Star Wars continuity, all bets are off with Rogue One, and we’re likely about to see a few things we haven’t seen in any of the 7 Star Wars episodes. Here are 13 Things We Want to See in the First Star Wars Spinoff.
While much of this article is speculation, there may be some incidental major spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 The Darth Vader We’ve All Been Waiting For
Disney and Lucasfilm haven’t outright confirmed it yet, but it’s almost a certainty that Darth Vader will be making an appearance in Rogue One. While the prequels focused on Anakin Skywalker’s descent into becoming Vader and the originals focused on his return to the light side, there hasn’t yet been a movie that shows Darth Vader — the fearsome Sith Lord — in his prime. Until now.
Various non-cinematic installments of Star Wars canon and Star Wars Legends material have shown this side of Vader on several occasions, but Rogue One will be the first time we actually witness it on the big screen.
Vader making an appearance on the battlefield in Rogue One has the potential to be as epic and iconic as Sauron’s appearance in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring where he sends dozens of Elves and Men flying like rag dolls with each swing of his mace. Even if he’s only on-screen for a few moments, the rumored depiction of the Dark Lord of the Sith could end up being one of Rogue One’s biggest highlights.
12 Rebels Connections
Rogue One isn’t the only content to occur in the Star Wars timeline before the events of A New Hope. Star Wars Rebels is covering very similar ground, even finding itself on a collision course with Rogue One. There aren’t any obvious crossovers yet, but it would be a great to at least have a few Easter eggs, if not a full on character cameo or two.
Of course, Rogue One is a standalone story, so we don’t want it to serve as a companion to Rebels, or have any of Rebels become required viewing in order to enjoy Rogue One, but including a few nods in that direction would be great to see. With Gary Witta’s involvement with the writing of both Rogue One and the upcoming Rebels season 3, don’t be surprised if there is some good synergy there.
11 Bridge A New Hope and Revenge of the Sith
Rogue One isn’t a Star Wars episode, so it shouldn’t serve the express purpose of bridging the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an opportunity to blend the two trilogies, be it through the incorporation of prequel technology, planets, or Imperial propaganda.
It could be as simple as having Imperial officers discussing the Death Star’s construction in orbit over Geonosis, broadcasts praising the Emperor for bringing order to the Galaxy under the Imperial banner after the Clone Wars, or just a shot of a rusty pit droid in a junk shop. It wouldn’t take much, but Rogue One is perfectly situated to subtly bring the aesthetic of the two eras together.
10 Clone Troopers
One major prequel era tie-in many fans would love is the presence of clones. Most stormtroopers have been replaced with conscripts and volunteers by the time of the events depicted in Rogue One, but there are still a few clones in their ranks. Even just having one or two in the background would be great to see.
Some specific clones — such as Rex — would be even better, though. During the events of Star Wars Rebels, Captain Rex ends up joining the rebellion, and — pending events in Rebels season 3 — could still even be involved during Rogue One (some theories even suggest he’s on Endor in Return of the Jedi). Giving his character a cameo wouldn’t only be a big connection to the prequel era, but a clear tie-in to the The Clone Wars and Rebels, drawing a through line from one end of the saga to the other.
9 Diverse Dogfights
What’s Star Wars without the star wars, right? While we got some X-Wing vs TIE Fighter action in The Force Awakens, Rogue One gives us the opportunity to witness the kind of dogfight that started it all, or possibly even more.
The portion of A New Hope’s opening crawl that inspired Rogue One says “Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.” Considering Jyn Erso doesn’t appear to be a pilot, Rogue One may be focusing more on the troops on the ground during that specific conflict, but that doesn’t mean an air battle with X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, Alderaanian Cruisers, TIE Fighters, TIE Bombers, and Star Destroyers can’t still be heavily featured. Maybe we can even see Vader wreaking havoc in his TIE fighter.
8 A War Movie
Star Wars movies have always had battles, and every episode — except The Phantom Menace — involves a galaxy wide conflict, but none of the movies could be definitively called a “war movie” in the same way that Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, or Apocalypse Now are considered war movies.
This is because — while there is a lot of war in Star Wars — the majority of main characters are primarily non-military. They may take on military roles and responsibilities at moments, but that’s never the focus of the story. Empire Strikes Back isn’t about Luke Skywalker being a Commander, and Return of the Jedi isn’t about Han Solo being a General. Instead, those stories all focus more on the larger struggle of good vs evil, leaving the military machinations and conflicts as more of a backdrop to the main story.
The Rogue One trailer sets up what appears to be a movie much more anchored in the actual civil war between the Empire and the Rebellion. The characters presented are all of significance due primarily to their involvement in a militaristic organization, and their relevance in the story revolves around their role in a significant military operation.
7 Appropriate Classic Character Cameos
One of the most thrilling parts of the Rogue One trailer for many fans was the reveal of the flawless casting of Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma (she’s actually reprising the role from a Revenge of the Sith cut scene). There are several characters from both the prequels and the original trilogy that could get a nod or brief appearance. Rex was already mentioned above, but Bail Organa (played by Jimmy Smits in the prequels) would make another great addition, while Admiral Ackbar (RIP), Princess Leia, General Dodona, Wedge Antilles, and more would also make for great cameos.
It’s also important to have some restraint in this area as well, though. While we would all love to see some fan favorite characters show up, too much of that can cause the entire movie to get bogged down with fan service character cameos, which isn’t only distracting, but also serves to shrink the scope of Star Wars. If this is truly a galaxy wide conflict, then it wouldn’t make sense for a character like Princess Leia to pop up in every single story.
One of the best parts of some of the new books like Lost Stars or Battlefront: Twilight Company is how they demonstrate the true scope of the Empire and Rebellion, instead of just focusing on events surrounding the main characters of other stories. It would be great to see that same attitude show up in the anthology movies.
6 The Twilight of the Imperial Senate
While the events of the prequels were heavily influenced by the political machinations of the Old Republic, the Imperial hierarchy flattened significantly at the start of A New Hope when Tarkin informs the Imperial brass on the Death Star that Sheev Palpatine has permanently dissolved the Imperial Senate.
Considering Rogue One takes place so soon before A New Hope, and Mon Mothma (the future Chancellor of the New Republic) will play a part, it would be great to get a peek of the last days of the Imperial Senate. In the same scene with Tarkin, General Tagge voices concern that “the Rebellion will continue to gain a support in the Imperial Senate,” so seeing the likes of Mon Mothma and Bail Organa building a political coalition of Rebel sympathizers in opposition to Palpatine — making it necessary for him to finally abolish the Senate altogether — would help wrap up the dying breaths of the Old Republic, fully transitioning it into the all powerful Galactic Empire we all know from the original trilogy.
5 Character Deaths
Rogue One may be a new story with mostly new characters, but most of their fates have already been hinted at in A New Hope. Upon capturing Princess Leia, Vader states: “I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to find their secret base,” insinuating that the Dark Lord personally tracked down each and every Rebel spy responsible for stealing the Death Star plans — you know, the main cast of Rogue One — and tortured and killed them in an attempt to locate the Rebel base — just like he was going to do with Leia, only she was lucky enough to get rescued.
While it may be a bit dark for a Star Wars movie, giving the main characters the George R.R. Martin treatment could also serve for some of the most dramatic Star Wars storytelling to date, while also avoiding continuity issues along the lines of “where’s Jyn Erso during A New Hope?”
4 New Perspectives of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire
So far, every cinematic Star Wars installment focuses on characters that have strong ties to the the larger organizations in place (the Republic, the Rebellion, the Empire, the Resistance, the First Order, etc.), but the actual functioning of these organizations — outside of some Senate deliberations — are outside the purview of the plot. With Rogue One dealing directly with characters that are in the thick of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, the movie provides a great opportunity to flesh out the actual operations of said groups.
What are the motivations of an Imperial Officer? What inspired a Rebel General to join the fight against the Empire? Showing a much more nuanced presentation of the Empire and the Rebellion doesn’t only add a layer of depth to the story of Rogue One, but can also inform the events of later movies, improving minor details of the entire saga.
3 A Stylistic Divergence
While there’s a certain spirit that many people may say makes a Star Wars movie a Star Wars movie, most of the films have been imbued a very similar style up to this point. With some variations between the trilogies, the tone, music, and heart found in each installment has been fairly consistent.
With Gareth Edwards coming on for what will be the first stand-alone cinematic Star Wars installment, there’s a lot of opportunity to differentiate, as has already been seen in the first trailer. One obvious way is that Rogue One marks the first Star Wars movie not composed by John Williams, with Alexandre Desplat taking the musical reigns this time around. Other differences could include changes such as excluding the opening crawl, foregoing the main Star Wars theme song, or other stylistic decisions.
2 Distinct Cinematography
While the terms “Star Wars” and “cinematic” are nearly synonymous for many people, there are some elements of other cinematic epics that Star Wars has never adapted, staying closer to a more operatic presentation. With Gareth Edwards on board, that could change for Rogue One.
One enticing difference with Rogue One is the cinematography. Edwards is bringing in Greig Fraser, who is known for his cinematography is movies like Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, both of which eschew a far more visceral and stylistic approach compared to the episodic Star Wars installments who’s cinematography — while beautiful and epic in scope — would be considered more static by most standards.
This change difference is already evident in the trailer, where shots like the one with the AT-AT assault on the beach utilize lighting, framing, and a cinema verite style not commonly seen in previous Star Wars movies. If the trailer is an accurate visual sample, Rogue One will be a clear tonal and stylistic departure from your parent’s Star Wars movies.
1 Focus on stand alone story
Rogue One may take place in the same continuity as the rest of the films, with the prequels telling the story before and the originals telling the story after, but Rogue One is still the first stand-alone Star Wars movie, and the story should be truly stand-alone. This means where normal franchises spend chunks of screen time sewing threads of a larger story and setting up major plot beats for future movies, Rogue One should be able to exist entirely within itself.
Even if Rogue One is successful, there should never be a Rogue One 2. At least not one that follows the same cast. It’s not clear what Lucasfilms plan in this area is, as there’s no other big examples of stand-alone storytelling in any other modern franchise, but one of the most intriguing possibilities involves telling a story with finality, which likely means killing off most of the main cast.
With Marvel, DC, Transformers, and now Universal’s upcoming monster franchise seeking a share of the shared universe pie, Lucasfilm has the opportunity to differentiate itself and provide something no one else has: a movie that has all the advantages provided by the shared universe tapestry, but doesn’t suffer from the lack of containment seen in other franchise installments. The best Rogue One possible is a movie that benefits from the backdrop of the Star Wars saga, but can be viewed completely independently of the other films.
What are you most excited for in Rogue One? Is it something listed here, or are there other elements you’re looking forward to more? Let us hear about it in the comments!