Rogue One: A Star Wars Story might be a first for Lucasfilm’s massively successful franchise — a live-action feature that isn’t directly part of the central storyline involving the Skywalkers, Jedi and overall direction of the conflict.
But the first teaser for Gareth Edwards’ movie made sure that it reminded everyone it was definitely a Star Wars story.
Here are four things worth noting.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
The trailer leans heavily on imagery very familiar to the audience. Not only are we shown the Death Star, Star Destroyers, AT-AT Walkers and Stormtroopers, but we also see a young Mon Mothma — a character created for 1983’s Return of the Jedi who also appeared in episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars — and hear a conversation that takes place in what looks like the strategic planning room from the original Star Wars.
While there is no nostalgia money shot like Force Awakens‘ original teaser’s Millennium Falcon reveal, there’s still no mistaking the fact that Rogue One is just as invested in invoking fans’ memories of the original trilogy as J.J. Abrams’ revival was.
Much is already being made on social media about Jyn (Felicity Jones’ character) bearing some resemblance to Force Awakens lead Rey (Daisy Ridley). Both are brunette English actresses, sure, but they are both characters who were abandoned as children and forced to become self-sufficient too early, leading to a stubborn rebellious streak (ahem).
Where Rey was destined for greater things, however, the Rogue One teaser suggests that Jyn won’t be as fortunate, especially if that final shot is to be believed. Will Rogue One be a study in contrasts?
Suicide Squad, Star Wars Style
Rogue One has an odd task in that it’s not just fitting inside established history but forced to work against it to some degree. We as an audience expect the good guys to succeed in their mission, because Star Wars opens with the Rebellion having plans for the Death Star, after all, so where is the tension in the story?
The teaser acts against that expectation, suggesting that the good guys will be captured (1:10), that they will fight against impossible odds (1:21) and that Jyn might even turn to the Dark Side herself (1:27).
It’s likely all sleight of hand, but it’s successful. (There’s a narrative to be built out of those glimpses in which traditional Rebellion attempts to get access to the plans fail, leading to the Rebellion turning to outside sources — Jyn and the characters seen running against the AT-ATs — who end up going undercover to gain access, after all.) After this trailer, the events feel like less of a foregone conclusion.
Where Are the Jedi?
Congratulations, Rogue One, for having nary a lightsaber visible in the first peek. (That said, we do get a space samurai of a sort, dealing with an entire squadron of Stormtroopers on his own at the 1:14 mark, which is almost the same thing.) But could this be the first Star Wars movie to be entirely devoid of a Jedi Knight?
That would make sense given its placement in SW continuity — between Revenge of the Sith and the original movie, a time in which the few remaining Jedi have gone underground — but, nonetheless, it feels like a somewhat bold move.
Things might not be that simple, of course: What, exactly, is going on at the 1:18 mark, where a cloaked figure kneels before a tube surrounded by members of the Emperor’s Royal Guard? Could that be … Darth Vader …?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scheduled to be released Dec. 16.