The proliferation of Disney’s Star Wars franchise has been an intriguing one, ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012. The studio has taken the opportunity to grow the saga through new comics, novels, TV shows, and video games, each of which brought something different to the table. All of this revolved around a third trilogy that kicked off last year with The Force Awakens. For the first time ever though, we’re about to see Star Wars break out of the trilogy format, marked by 2016’s release of Rogue One. [Update, 10/13/16: Added second full-length trailer (see below).]
From the moment it was announced, it was clear that Rogue One wouldn’t be anything like past films in the Star Wars franchise. That was only emphasized by footage, rumors, and a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel, all pointing to one conclusion: Be prepared for something completely different. Here’s why.
1. Rogue One looks like a true war movie
Both the original and prequel trilogies prominently feature a war as the central point of conflict. For the original, we’re thrown right into the middle of the Galactic Civil War, putting the Empire against the ragtag Rebellion. The prequels featured a rebellion of their own, with the Separatists going up against the Republic and their clone army. And while those wars were important to the story, the more nitty gritty elements of both took a backseat to the more important character stories.
Rogue One will take an entirely different tact. We’ll be getting a full in-the-trenches look at the Galactic Civil War, from the perspective of the people who fought far further down the chain of command than the likes of Luke, Han, and Leia. It’ll be dirty, explosive, and more than anything, visceral, evidenced by the behind-the-scenes reel showing us all sorts of footage from the film.
2. The first standalone Star Wars story
The trilogy format has worked beautifully for Star Wars throughout the last four decades. It’s a platform that allows for the gradual roll-out of a grand story, spanning multiple chapters as we watch our characters grow and change. Rogue One eschews this, in favor of a single, standalone movie. This will represent the first movie outside of Lucasfilm’s three trilogies, which will allow far more creative freedom. Our main characters can have arcs that begin and end in a single film, with a plot that wraps up entirely once the credits roll. The Anthology series will continue on with more recognizable characters with Han Solo and the untitled Boba Fett project, making Rogue One a singularly unique project for all involved.
3. Darth Vader like we’ve never seen him before
The Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader narrative is central to both the prequels and original trilogy. The former focuses on his formative years, and subsequent fall into darkness, while the latter hones in on his redemptive final moments. What we’ve never really seen in film though are the years in between, where Vader was at the peak of his villainy. Marvel’s Darth Vader comic series gave us our first real look, showing us a merciless, murderous version of the Sith Lord existing apart from his identity as Luke’s father. Now we’ll see him go up against the Rebellion right in the prime of his badassery.
4. A new cast of characters
There’s been a common vein of characters throughout every Star Wars film. Even The Force Awakens, introducing new faces like Rey, Finn, and Poe, prominently featured the likes of Han, Chewie, and Leia. Rogue One will exist outside of that main Star Wars cast entirely. At least for now, it looks like the only shared character will be Darth Vader, and even he’s not the main villain of the film (that honor goes to Director Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn). Above we see the new cast, and it’s exclusively filled with Star Wars first-timers. And while we’ll only have a single movie to learn all about them, it still represents an interesting break from the main thread of Anakin, Luke, Leia, Obi Wan, and Han.
5. The Jedi won’t be playing a significant role
Every Star Wars movie to date has featured a Force-sensitive character at the epicenter of the story. The prequels were all about Anakin. The original trilogy focused on Luke. The Force Awakens followed Rey as she too learned of her Force-related power. Rogue One‘s main character, Jyn Erso, will have only her wits to guide her, as she embarks on a covert mission to steal the plans for the original Death Star. This takes place in an era when all the remaining Jedi in the galaxy are either dead or in hiding, and because Luke has yet to enter the fray, the storied Skywalkers don’t come into play either. It’s just one woman on a mission to save the Rebellion from certain doom.
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