Spoilers ahead for Rogue One!
One of the benefits to a 40-year-old expanded movie-verse is the enormous back catalog of potential Easter eggs that can be buried in any new movie. The Star Wars saga is no exception to this, with a whole mess of callbacks and references at the disposal of Lucasfilm. In the case of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, director Gareth Edwards wasn’t at all shy about stacking his movie full of Easter eggs, some obvious, and others still hidden deep in the background. The question for you as a viewer is simple: Did you manage to catch them all? Here’s what we were able to spy from our own Rogue One viewing.
1. Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba
The scene inside the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope is recognized today as a telling look at the sheer vastness of the Star Wars galaxy. It’s a single interaction that really defined the hard-nosed, unforgiving nature of the local watering hole. Luke, while innocently trying to buy himself a drink, is accosted by a pair of criminals looking for a fight. They end up getting what they’re looking for, albeit at the cost of an arm, as Obi-Wan steps in to defend Luke.
That pair of malcontents doomed to lose their encounter with Obi-Wan made a quick appearance in the Jedha marketplace in Rogue One. After brushing shoulders with Jyn and Cassian, we once again see Dr. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba in search of a fight no matter what planet they’re on.
2. The Guardians of the Whills
When we first happen upon Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, they’re described by Cassian as the now-unemployed “Guardians of the Whills,” tasked with defending the kyber temples of Jedha. That name though isn’t at all coincidental. It’s actually a nod to George Lucas’s Journal of the Whills, the title for his initial draft of Star Wars, that originally framed the story around an ancient journal discovered on Earth that outlined the epic story we know today. That angle was obviously scrapped in favor of the saga we’re more familiar with today, but it’s still cool to see Rogue One referencing it all the same.
3. Grand Moff Tarkin
Peter Cushing’s performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope was one of the many highlights of the first Star Wars installment. Cushing sadly passed away in 1994, never to see the growth of George Lucas’s epic saga past the original trilogy. But even that didn’t stop Rogue One from bringing Tarkin back anyway, taking British actor Guy Henry, and using advanced CGI effects to super-impose Cushing’s likeness over Henry’s own face. The result threw us deep into the uncanny valley, if only for recreating Tarkin in a way that was eerily accurate, down to exact way he utters, “you may fire when ready,” before unleashing the Death Star on Scarif.
4. The Rebel base on Yavin 4
Seeing the Rebel Alliance’s base of operations on Yavin 4 brought to life again in Rogue One was an absolute treat for fans. It afforded us a chance to once again explore the site originally filmed in the jungles of Guatemala. Inside the base, we see Genevieve O’Reilly once again playing Mon Mothma, a role she originally played in scenes that were later cut from Episode III.
Fulfilling their place in Star Wars history as the only characters to appear in every film, C-3PO and R2-D2 even pop up briefly. We also get a subtle nod to A New Hope in the form of the Rebel lookout in a crow’s nest outside the base, still monitoring every ship coming and going from the facility.
5. Bail Organa
Jimmy Smits first assumed the role of Senator Bail Organa in the prequel trilogy, before later becoming Princess Leia’s adoptive father on Alderaan. He’s also known as a key player behind the scenes of the Rebellion, so it made a whole lot of sense to bring Smits back for Rogue One. We see him in the Yavin briefing room, as the Rebels first learn of the Death Star’s destructive power. Soon after that, Mon Mothma tasks him with getting in contact with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, but not before he heads back to Alderaan, where he’ll later die in the Empire’s attack on the planet in A New Hope.
6. A handful of nods to the Star Wars Rebels animated series
Given that the Star Wars Rebels is set in the years directly preceding Rogue One, it’d be odd if there weren’t at least a couple references to the animated series. You might have even noticed a few of them if you were watching closely throughout the film. The list as it stands now includes the appearance of the Ghost (the ship used by Rebels‘ main characters) in the raid on Scarif, the Ghost crew’s droid, Chopper, rolling through the background on Yavin, and a call over the Rebel intercom for “General Syndulla,” referencing Hera Syndulla, the crew’s de facto captain.
Bonus callback: Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera may have not lasted long in Rogue One, but his character’s history dates all the back to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, where he appeared as an insurgent fighting back a Separatist invasion on his home planet of Onderon. Rumor has it we’ll also be seeing Gerrera’s backstory fleshed out later this season on Rebels.
7. Darth Vader’s castle
You could fill a gallery with drawings from Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie, many of which never made it out of the conceptual stage. One such drawing featured Bast Castle, which was originally slated to appear in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as Darth Vader’s personal residence. Rogue One unearthed McQuarrie’s drawing with a slight retool, putting it on the lava planet of Mustafar. And if it looked oddly similar to something you might see in Lord of the Rings, you can bet that it was intentional, as many of George Lucas’s original ideas for Vader were modeled off of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sauron.
8. Red Leader, Gold Leader, and why Luke became Red Five
Garven Dreis and John Vander aren’t exactly actors who are household names in the Star Wars franchise. That being said, most fans probably recognize them as Red Leader and Gold Leader respectively, in A New Hope. Rogue One managed to bring them both back for the Rebel attack on Scarif, and they didn’t even need any CGI to make it happen.
On a trip to Skywalker Ranch, director Gareth Edwards came across forgotten archived footage from the original trilogy. After pawing through the negatives, he found unused cockpit footage of Dreis and Vander, which he later managed to cut into Rogue One. Later on in the Scarif raid, we see Red Five get shot down, leaving his callsign open for Luke when he arrives on the scene in A New Hope.
9. “I have a bad feeling about this … “
There are a bunch of lines that pervade almost every Star Wars film. “I have a bad feeling about this” is one that’s made its way into every single movie, and Rogue One‘s own incorporation of it was by far the most clever. As they’re infiltrating the Empire’s facility on Scarif, K-2SO gets about halfway through the line before Cassian cuts him off, hilariously stopping him short of fully uttering the iconic phrase.
10. Tantive IV and Princess Leia
Tantive IV is most known as the Rebel cruiser captured by the Empire in the opening moments of A New Hope. As the raid on Scarif enters its final moments, we see it escape the battle with the Death Star plans safely aboard, delivering them straight to Princess Leia herself. Thanks to the magic of CGI, we’re treated to a visage of a young Carrie Fisher, once again diving deep into the uncanny valley. It’s an ending that makes for a poetic transition straight into Episode IV, with the Empire tracking down Tantive IV soon after its escape from Scarif.
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