Whether or not the reshoots on the movie were as extensive as some rumors claimed remains unknown, but one thing is clear: The new look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story looks like a trailer to a different movie than the one advertised earlier.
It’s not that the new trailer suggests an entirely different plot from that teased in earlier trailers: Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is still recruited by the Rebellion to help steal the plans for a superweapon that, unbeknownst to them, is actually the Death Star. That much remains true — and the new trailer, like those released before, feature shots of the Empire striking back, as it were, with the requisite destruction.
And yet, the Rogue One being advertised in the new trailer seems like a different movie, and the Jyn Erso appearing in the latest trailer like a different character.
For one thing, Erso has become curiously sidelined in the new trailer, although that’s arguably a trend that’s been underway for a while. (Compare August’s trailer to the one released in April, and you can see Erso’s presence lessened there too.) Interestingly, though, it’s not merely the attention given to the character that’s changed in this new trailer; it’s the way she’s portrayed.
In earlier trailers, Erso was a character at odds with everyone, an angry, disruptive presence — remember “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel“? — who, above all, had agency and independence. That impression is dramatically altered in this new trailer: The first we see of her, she’s a child being told that her father is protecting her, and then she’s being rescued by Rebel forces (A neat callback to Leia being rescued in the original Star Wars, sure, but a scene that lessens the idea of her as an independent, strong character) and pleading with those surrounding her: “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!” Suddenly, she’s a joiner, a motivator, requiring the assistance of the men around her, and a girl out to save her father.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that — it arguably feels more Star Wars-like than the Erso we originally saw; the franchise has always prized teamwork and familial connections, after all — but it nonetheless feels as if the arrogant, capable female lead we first glimpsed has been softened in order to have broader appeal.
The latest Rogue One trailer feels like a course correction toward the more traditional Star Wars in other ways, as well: Aurally, it’s missing the blaring sirens of the first trailer (echoed, to a far lesser extent, in the second trailer) in favor of an orchestral score, and shots such as those at 0:14, 0:31 and 0:56 are deliberate echoes of iconography from the first movie; we get to see Darth Vader charge forward, and X-wing pilots yell in victory as they attack an Imperial outpost in space, and we also get to watch people run away from AT-AT and AT-ST walkers, like in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. As if that wasn’t enough, we even get to hear the line “The Force is strong,” to complete the unexpected Greatest Hits package.
With all that on offer, it’s no surprise that the new trailer has excited fans — in terms of what people have seen of Rogue One, it’s the most similar the movie has looked to the Star Wars everyone knows and loves (and it wasn’t exactly dissimilar to start with). If, as reported at the time, the reshoots were intended to make the movie tonally consistent with its forebears, then mission accomplished.
Judging by this latest sneak peek, however, somewhere along the way, the first Jyn Erso audiences met was transformed into someone more demure and the movie as a whole seems less interesting as a result. Will the finished product redress the balance? We’ll know when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story reaches theaters Dec. 16.