‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Trailer Breakdown: Imperial Threats, Rebel Heroes

     April 7, 2016

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Now that the world has had a few moments to enjoy the first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, folks likely have a lot of questions about just who these new faces are and what is going on in this spin-off film. We’ve already pulled a Bantha load of images from the trailer to get a closer look at the film’s most interesting characters and moments, which has helped to expand upon everything we knew about the film a few months back.

Now, we know some more. Sure, a lot of it is still speculation; that won’t be cleared up until Disney releases more trailers and information over the months leading up to the film’s December 16th release date. But in the meantime, we’ve learned a lot more about the tone, visual style, and excellent cast of Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.


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Image via Lucasfilm

Let’s start with our protagonist, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Her introduction is fantastic, one that rivals that of the great smuggler and antihero Han Solo. Brought before Rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) in handcuffs, her rap sheet is read aloud: “forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest.” We’re told that Erso has been on her own since she was 15 and is accused of being “reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined.” Her answer to all of this? “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”

It’s clear that Erso is no shrinking violet, and it’s also clear that Mothma and the Rebel shot-callers have just found their perfect rogue, a capable yet expendable criminal who might just have the necessary skills to accomplish an intended mission: to steal the Death Star plans. Though Erso apparently has the ability to pull off this heist, she’d have a tough time doing it alone; the Rebels will need a team to do it. (Perhaps the title doesn’t only refer to the team of these rebels, but to Erso as well. It might even become her callsign.)

rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm

What will be interesting to see is just how well Erso gets along with others on the team. If the final shot of the trailer–in which she’s decked out in all black Imperial wear–is any indication, she clearly isn’t beyond subterfuge and disguise…or does it suggest something more sinister, like betrayal? It’s not clear yet if the team has already been established and she’s merely the final piece of the puzzle, or if they’ve been assembled Ocean’s Eleven-style, though the tone is more along the lines of The Dirty Dozen. I’d even draw a comparison to Suicide Squad since perhaps Erso’s criminal record will be wiped clean as long as she cooperates with the Rebels for this most deadly mission, but that’s speculation at this point.

We see glimpses of the other team members as well. Diego Luna’s unnamed Rebel fighter leans casually nearby, but never says a word. You get the sense that he might have some sort of sway over whether or not Erso joins the team, but he seems content to wait, watch, and see how she responds. They’re seen running into battle together later, though due to editing choices it’s difficult to get a sense of chronology.


rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm

Forest Whitaker’s role in the mission remains mysterious but his introduction in this trailer was fantastic. He wears a suit of (power?) armor but walks with the assistance of a cane and a noticeable limp, suggesting that he was once a powerful warrior but is now resigned to more of a trainer, mentor, and sage. He asks, “What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?” And while he poses these existential questions, more team members fight against the Empire in the background: Donnie Yen’s blind staff wielder takes on a number of Stormtroopers, Jiang Wen runs headlong into battle with heavy blaster rifle (or some sort of similarly destructive weapon) drawn, and the entire team dashes across soggy sand toward an AT-AT squad marching toward them, blasters firing. One of many things I’m anticipating in seeing in this film is just how this team comes together, how they overcome any differences, and how they take the Empire to task. (I also want to know if that droid that’s running behind them in the chase sequence is part of their team, because that would be a nice addition! And if Alan Tudyk is playing a motion-capture character…)

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Image via Lucasfilm

With that in mind, let’s look at the villains. Ben Mendelsohn’s unnamed character gets a boss introduction in this trailer thanks to his all-white Imperial costume, which looks immaculate even when he’s treading through a blasted bit of beach littered with fallen Stormtroopers and smoldering metal wreckage from the fight against the AT-ATs. Judging from Mendelsohn’s officer’s costume and his rank insignia, he’ll be an Admiral of some sort (apparently a Grand Admiral); but not a Grand Moff like the infamous Death Star overlord, Tarkin. That being said, he’s clearly going to be some sort of power player in this film.

Other interesting antagonists of note are the multi-colored Stormtroopers that pop up in this first look: you’ve got your standard white armor issue, but also an all-black version, and a sandy, gold version that may be Sandtroopers or a variety of Scout Troopers. One scene that will inspire a lot of debate, however, is the cloaked and hooded figure approaching what appears to be a Bacta tank flanked by red-cloaked Imperial guards.


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Image via Lucasfilm

This is total speculation on my part, but we see what looks like an Imperial transport shuttle blown up in this trailer. Perhaps the Rebel team isn’t tasked with simply stealing the Death Star plans, they’re also ordered to take out Imperial officers when possible. What bigger officer to take down than the Emperor himself? Except, much like the July plot to assassinate Hitler, things went awry and the Emperor survived, only to be whisked away to the waiting Bacta tank for rejuvenation. Then again, perhaps the Emperor is merely paying a visit to his apprentice Darth Vader who is (maybe?) still undergoing regular treatments for his wounds suffered in Revenge of the Sith… Could be a stretch, but Imperial guards don’t often defend an empty Bacta tank for no reason.

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Image via Lucasfilm

For more speculation around the web as a result of this trailer, some folks out there are theorizing that Erso will be revealed to be Rey’s mother. While the timeline could certainly allow that (three years between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, one year between Empire and Return of the Jedi, and 11 years between Jedi and Rey’s birth for a total of 15(+/-) years after Rogue One, making Erso anywhere from 40-50 when she has Rey), I’d personally prefer to see Rogue One truly stand alone with the only ties to the main story arc being through secondary characters like Mon Mothma, but to each their own. Folks also seem to want Luna’s character to be related to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), but I have to ask: Does everyone in this movie have to be a blood relation of someone who comes later? For me, the answer is no. It’s a big, wide galaxy out there, and forcing those relationships would narrow that scope even if it theoretically strengthened character bonds.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to discover in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and you likely have theories of your own, so feel free to share them in the comments section below!


rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm

rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm

rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm


rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm

rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm

rogue-one-trailer-breakdown

Image via Lucasfilm


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