In case you somehow missed it, the first trailer for the next Star Wars film Rogue One appeared today. The first thing we all noticed was that it is insanely faithful to the original trilogy's look. But what was less obvious was how the story actually goes. So we went through it frame by frame, to find the hidden clues.
If you had any doubts about who the main character in Rogue One was, this trailer -- unless it is one hell of a red herring -- makes it very clear that it's Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). The trailer lists her criminal background as "forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest". I kind of don't see the Rebellion getting too up in arms about crimes committed against the Empire, but Erso is shackled in the Rebel base on Yavin 4.
Look, if you thought that J.J. Abrams recreated the feel of the original Star Wars trilogy in The Force Awakens, Gareth Edwards and his team has perfectly recreated the Yavin 4 base. There's an astromech droid at the end of the shot, an X-Wing in the middle, just so much detail. Plus on the left hand side, as Erso is lead through the hanger, you can see a GNK power droid (or Gonk droid). That walking trash can droid has shown up over and over again, including The Force Awakens, but it's good to see it back:
Jones' character was originally described as a Rebel soldier, so the whole list of her crimes is slightly weird. If she weren't restrained, I'd almost say it's from another part of the movie where she's in Imperial hands. Of course, she could be in trouble with the Rebel Alliance for a whole different set of reasons. Insubordination and refusal to follow orders would fit. The whole idea of Erso having a criminal past and being given a chance to prove herself gives this whole Ocean's 11 "team assembled to get the Death Star plans" plot a hint of Suicide Squad in the mix.
"On your own from the age of 15, reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined." Mon Mothma's doing a little judging.
In addition to this being a perfect recreation of the command centre in A New Hope, this Mon Mothma casting is dead on. More specifically, it's an older casting choice that's become almost perfect: this is Genevieve O'Reilly, who played the young Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith. On the left is Rogue One and on the right is Return of the Jedi:
It's so good we thought it was CGI for a second. Of course, it does have the implication that Mon Mothma has only one clothing style when she's in a movie, but still.
As Mon Mothma gives us the rest of the Erso backstory infodump, Diego Luna's as yet unnamed character looks on. Based on where he is and how he's acting, I'm betting hard on him being the Rebel officer in good standing assigned to this mission. Plus he's got a very, Poe Dameron/Han Solo swagger about him.
While Erso does her best Homeland impression, note the droid following her around. He shows up again, making us think this might very well be Alan Tudyk's motion capture character.
On whatever planet this is -- although it apparently isn't a Star Wars movie unless there's lots of sand -- Erso holds her own against some Stormtroopers. Just run of the mill ones, for now.
Since the plot of Rogue One is about the theft of the Death Star plans prior to A New Hope, we're betting it follows the usual heist plot formula: the recruitment of the team and then the actual mission itself. This is all by way of saying that I'm not sure which part this is from, but I'm betting the recruitment, since we see almost no one else from the team here.
It's kind of hard to tell, but it looks like Erso grabs Diego Luna's character and brings him down to shield them from the explosion. He seems to be wearing the jacket from the very first still released at D23 last year.
Erso says, "This is a rebellion isn't it? I rebel." And Mon Mothma gives a look of amusement and disappointment that I think I've seen on about a dozen teachers.
Based on the scarf around her neck, I'm betting this shot of Erso in a transport of some kind is her after getting the assignment, not her being transported to Yavin 4 in handcuffs.
"We have a mission for you. A major weapons test is imminent. And we need to know what it is and how to destroy it," says Mon Mothma. Of course, since we the audience all know what the weapon is, we get to see the giant laser focus get installed on the Death Star. The Star Destroyers at various levels in these shots give a hint of scale.
"Is that clear?" says Alistair Petrie, who is playing yet another unnamed Rebel.
A) Gonk droid again. B) Luna and Erso head out with what looks like a whole squadron of Rebel pilots.
OK, we'll admit that this image of Ben Mendelsohn caused a bit of a stir. Thanks to Kallus in Rebels, the ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) is still canon. But he never wears the white uniform the old EU gave the ISB -- and which was based on some white uniforms seen on the first Death Star. The old EU also gave the all-white uniform to Imperial Grand Admirals (like fan favourite, Thrawn). On the whole, if one of these things is correct, I'd put my money on him being a member of the ISB. The fact he appears to be on the Death Star really tips the balance, as much as I'd love to see a Grand Admiral.
Stormtroopers walk through a city, probably before their fight with Erso from earlier in the trailer. The transport is interesting, but more interesting is the fact the Troopers riding on it look more Clone Trooper than Storm. We're crossing generations here, people!
Suddenly, Forest Whitaker appears! His armour is much bulkier than we usually see in the Star Wars verse. And he looks like he has a limp, but could still completely destroy you. Making Star Wars has opined that, based on what they have heard his character's code name is, "Eel Leader", he's a bounty hunter. Which would make sense, since he wasn't in the photo of Erso's team. His monologue then continues through the rest of the trailer.
This is the shot we saw in the tease for this trailer, and it's an all black trooper. Still no clue if it's a Shadow Trooper or Death Trooper or what, but there is something burning in background. Also, moisture vaporators!
Here are some captured pilots being led through the town, which might be the same pilots that went out with Luna and Erso earlier. Part of the plan to infiltrate, or have things gone very wrong? Also of note, it looks like Jawas in the back, but they're a bit too tall. Probably just creatures with similar tailors.
"What will you do when they catch you?" Whitaker asks. Things look like they have gone very wrong, since they're running through some kind of Imperial base -- the Death Star? -- here. Plus, they're once again followed by the droid, who matches the description of one rumours described as being two-legged, grey and with long limbs. He's supposedly an Imperial droid repurposed by the Alliance.
"What will you do if they catch you? What will they do if they break you?" Whitaker's character continues over this new scene. Donnie Yen appears to be wanted by the Empire. He's also basically a space samurai because I guess that's what every space movie has to have now. More sand, so I think he joins the team on this planet. Note the crashed X-Wing in the background, too.
Not that it takes away from how cool this looks.
A lot of the action in this trailer looks like it takes place on this tropical beach planet (there were rumours the film was going to shoot in South America and maybe this is it. Plus, it's Star Wars, I assume the planet is all palm trees, sand, and ocean). Here we have more of the black troopers firing. It's cut to look like their firing blows up the shuttle, but that seems kind of unlikely.
Mendelsohn continues to make the Empire look good.
He also appears to be surveying the damage after the battle on the beach planet. Lots of dead soldiers, but I also link I see a burning X-wing S-foil in the background there.
Someone in a black cloak kneels in front of this creepy, foggy column thing. The red guards are the Emperor's Royal Guards. I don't usually see Emperor Palpatine as the kneeling type, so either there's something really important (like the Emperor) in that column or it's so important his personal guards are there. We've heard rumours that Darth Vader is in this movie, but he doesn't usually have a hood, so who this is still a mystery.
Whitaker continues his voiceover (but now, he's clearly on a ship with a little Millennium Falcon vibe): "If you continue to fight..."
Jiang Wen runs in some sort of specially powered armour/weapon.
The Empire brought a ton of AT-ATs to this fight, and I'm pretty sure that Erso, Luna, and maybe Riz Ahmed are running from the lasers.
By the way, the AT-ATs seem to move more gracefully than in Empire Strikes Back and the red on the faces gives them a very Cylon-esque feel. (Yes, I know the original Battlestar Galactica ripped off Star Wars first, but still.) And if you're wondering why the Empire is using AT-ATs before Empire Strikes Back, well, they used them on Star Wars Rebels too.
Whitaker ends his voiceover with "what will you become?" as we see Erso in what certainly looks like a TIE pilot's flightsuit -- but given that this is a heist movie, and she's on an Imperial shop of some kind, looks can be deceiving.
The most surprising thing about this trailer is that it was almost all action and almost all shots of characters alone. No footage of anyone acting like a team, despite the fact that the first photo we got from this movie was the cast all arrayed like one. The tone was also a lot more action than espionage or heist stuff -- which they're either keeping to themselves, or this movie has an entirely different feel than we expected. I kind of think that we saw a lot from the first part of the film, before the team is actually all together. Which makes sense, since that's going to be the most spoiler-free territory. This is a teaser trailer, after all.
Either way, I think we can guess a few things: Erso and Diego Luna's character are tasked with getting the Death Star plans. It looks like they start out with some pilots as part of their team, but that goes awry and they end up with a motlier crew than intended. As for how they actually get the Death Star plans -- which we know they do, since A New Hope happened -- that's a mystery for another day.
Oh, and you want more? Germain Lussier went on the io9 Facebook page to talk all about the trailer. Watch it here.