Star Wars: Rogue One – First Trailer Analysis

We've dissected and picked apart every little bit of the first Star Wars: Rogue One teaser trailer, and we've found some interesting stuff!

This article contains potential Rogue One: A Star Wars Story spoilers.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been shrouded in mystery since its announcement in 2015. Beyond one set photo and a cast list, we don’t know much about the first standalone Star Wars film. What bits we do know are intriguing, though. Rogue One tells the story of the Rebel soldiers tasked with stealing the plans to the Death Star, a heroic suicide mission that will lead into A New Hope. This is, in essence, a prequel to the first Star Wars movie. 

The first trailer, which arrived this morning, confirms as much, as we get our best look at all of the players in this story of war and espionage. Before we dissect the trailer for all of the interesting Star Wars goodies, check out the trailer below:

Okay, now that you’ve watched that trailer fifty more times, let’s get to work…

The first shot of the trailer is Felicity Jones’ (The Theory of Everything) character, Jyn Erso, being escorted by the Rebel Honor Guard into the Great Temple of Massassi aka the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. We first visited this location in A New Hope. Obviously, there isn’t too much of a time difference separating these two movies, so it makes sense that we’re on Yavin. 

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One interesting thing is that Jyn is handcuffed. It has been widely rumored for a while that Jones’ character isn’t technically a Rebel agent, but a mercenary hired to get the Death Star plans. In fact, all of the dudes who are in her squad look like mercenaries…except Diego Luna’s (Elysium) character. We will get to him in a second. 

Next up is a tracking shot that reveals more of the familiar Rebel base. We see Rebel pilots in their signature orange flight suits, as well as an X-Wing in the distance. That little walking garbage can is a power droid, which first appeared in the Original Trilogy. 

As Jyn follows the Rebel guard, some Rebel infantrymen march past her. This a war movie, after all. I think they might be the same ones we saw during the mission on Endor, but I can’t be sure. 

Yep, Jyn is definitely NOT a Rebel at the start of this movie. A Rebel officer played by Alistair Petrie (Cloud Atlas) reads all of Jyn’s past crimes. It sounds like she didn’t end up on Yavin 4 without a fight. And now that she’s in the hands of the Rebels, I guess she’s going to have to Snake Plissken this thing. 

Here’s your first shot of Mon Mothma, the leader of the Rebellion! Genevieve O’Reilly (Revenge of the Sith) finally makes the cut as a younger Mothma. She originally appeared in a deleted scene in the final installment in the Prequel Trilogy. 

A lot of this is pretty straightforward, a luxury that this movie can definitely enjoy, since it’s not part of the main saga of films. We know that Jyn has been on her own since she was fifteen—rumor has it that Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) plays her estranged father—and has lived a life of crime ever since. 

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Here’s Diego Luna’s character, seemingly watching as Mothma talks Jyn into accepting the Death Star mission. He’s a Rebel agent of some kind, based on the fact that he’s basically dressed in Han Solo’s The Empire Strikes Back outfit and the insignia on his jacket looks like a Rebel ranking. Two dots on top of each other like that means he’s a Captain. Luna might be going on Jyn’s mission to make sure this Suicide Squad doesn’t get off track during the heist. 

The next few shots are pretty hectic. It looks like this is after Jyn accepts her mission. I can’t say for sure what planet there on, but the architecture, the water vaporators, and sand do look familiar…I’m going to say that this is Tatooine. Or more likely, it’s a new planet we haven’t been to before. Can anyone confirm in the comments?

I’m not sure what kind of droid that is behind Jyn in the shot above. Is it a protocol droid? Maybe she has a droid companion? That would certainly keep with classic Star Wars movie tradition. Or is it an Imperial droid creeping up on her? Not likely, since it’s making all the noise in the world, but it does kind of look menacing enough to be one. Let’s not get caught up on the droid, though…

…because Jyn is punching Stormtroopers like a badass! And shooting at them, too. Someone detonates an explosion during the fight, although I can’t tell who it is. The cut is just too quick. Some things we’re just not meant to know, guys. 

Jyn saves Diego Luna from the blast. That’s definitely Luna, by the way. He’s wearing the blue coat with the fur from the official cast photo. Jyn and Luna are already on their mission at this point then. 

“This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.” That’s a really good line and also means Jyn is down to join the Rebel Alliance. 

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The next shot shows her in some kind of transport. It looks like it’s lifting off, too, from the looks of it. I’m guessing she’s leaving Yavin 4 at this point. 

The first appearance of a Star Destroyer in the trailer pretty much melts my brain with how good the effects look. It’s worth pointing out that, unlike The Force Awakens, which was shot on 35 mm, Rogue One is using digital. Luckily, this hasn’t forced director Gareth Edwards to compromise on the effects shot, which look incredibly close to ILM’s work on the Original Trilogy. SO GOOD. 

I really like that we get to see the finishing touches on the Death Star’s construction. Of course it’s the superlaser emitter. Again, this stuff is pretty straightforward. Mothma tells Jyn her mission: the Empire has built a weapon that’s about to start shooting at stuff and ruining everyone’s day. Find out what the weapon is and how to destroy it. Basically, find the plans to the Death Star. 

Here’s another picture of Alistair Petrie because why not? He’s a Rebel General, based on the five-dot insignia on his uniform. He doesn’t seem very friendly.

Okay, so then the sirens start. I want to say that it’s the Imperial alarm, the one we hear when the Death Star is under attack, but this siren is at a higher pitch, so I can’t be sure…

We see a pretty great overview of the Rebel forces in the shot above. There are pilots, infantrymen, those rangers from Return of the Jedi, an X-Wing, and Jyn and Diego Luna. (I’m really enjoying calling this character “Diego Luna.”) Are they marching off to fend against an incoming attack? That’s not possible if this takes place before A New Hope. The Empire didn’t know the Rebels were on Yavin 4…unless this crosses over with the end of A New Hope, which is just too crazy to even imagine. So let’s ignore that possibility. 

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Instead, let’s say all of these people are marching off to their mission. Maybe the only way to get those plans is to assault an Imperial installation. That sounds about right. 

We finally get our first look at the movie’s villain—at least one of them, if those Darth Vader rumors are true. That’s Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises) as an Imperial Admiral. Couple of things about that: the Imperial plaque on his tunic has twelve squares on it—six red and six blue—which signifies that he’s an admiral. The white uniform—which was first worn by an Imperial Colonel named Wullf Yularen in A New Hope—could represent several possibilities.

In old canon, this white uniform belonged to an Imperial Grand Admiral. It was worn most famously by Thrawn in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy of novels. In current canon, white uniforms are worn by members of the Imperial Security Bureau, a branch of the Empire that’s in charge of ensuring the loyalty of citizens of the Empire and state security. (Agent Kallus from Star Wars Rebels is an agent of the ISB, although he wears gray…)

If Mendelsohn is indeed part of the ISB, he’d be a pretty high-ranking officer, maybe even the director. It would make a lot of sense to have the Empire’s top security officer go up against the Rebel spies. 

I’m not sure where Mendelsohn is standing in this shot, although I kind of think it’s the Death Star. Is that where Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia watched Alderaan get blown up? I don’t know. Also, what is the holographic globe behind him? A planet?

I don’t know who that captured dude is or the shirtless guy next to him. The Stormtroopers are rolling up with a cool new (old?) armored vehicle we’ve never seen before, though, and it’s being driven by a new kind of Stormtrooper. The helmets look like they belong to the rumored “Scarab Troopers” that leaked a couple of weeks ago. They were apparently called “Sandtroopers” on set, according to Making Star Wars

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This scene seems to take place on the same desert planet/city/town/Mos Eisley where Jyn killed a bunch of Stormtroopers earlier in the trailer. Is Jyn on a mission to rescue those captives, who will then join her merry band of mercenaries?

Here’s Forest Whitaker (The Butler) in his crazy ass armor. I won’t begin to even try to figure out what’s happening there. Whitaker looks ready to kill some Imperials, though. Does this take place in the same desert setting as the past few scenes? I’m starting to wonder if Jyn is there to recruit all of the rest of the people she needs before going on the Death Star mission…

Here’s another new Stormtrooper. We’ve heard rumors that these black-armored soldiers are part of a unit called “Death Squad.” Can’t be sure, though. It does look like they’re prepared to exterminate their enemies. 

Oh, and that’s another water vaporator in the background. Is this all taking place on the same planet where Jyn fought those Stormtroopers? And is that greenery? Maybe this isn’t exclusively a desert planet then…

It’s worth pointing out that the very first teaser from last year’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, which was never released publicly, showed the Death Star looming over what looked like a forest planet. I wonder if most of the movie takes place on one planet with several locations…Maybe the Death Star is hiding behind this planet like with Death Star II and Endor in Return of the Jedi?

Whitaker’s certain that the Rebels will be captured, if his voiceover is any indication: “What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you?” We see some captured Rebel pilots walking through a market behind a Stormtrooper to go with the theme of “we’re screwed.” And then…

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Jyn and Diego Luna are running for their lives! Oh, and there’s that gray droid from earlier. Yeah, Jyn totally has a droid pal in this movie. Totally okay with that. 

Also, what is Jyn carrying? It looks like some sort of radio, but probably not. And who are those cloaked figures running ahead of them? They’re spooky.

Here’s another look at those new Scarab Troopers…

Where are these two shots taking place? It looks like some kind of Imperial hub…

We get a first look at Donnie Yen’s character. He’s getting ready to woop those Stormtroopers with his staff. Other things of interest: crashed X-Wing in the background. There was apparently a battle on this planet, which seems to be the same as the past scenes. Those captured Rebel pilots seem to pertain to this battle, too. Who is that hooded figure in red checking out the X-Wing?

There’s another shot of the Death Squad ruining someone’s day. These troopers carry a new kind of blaster that looks much lighter than the standard E-11. Are they somewhere tropical? That’s totally a palm tree on the right.

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Yep. This fight is taking place on a tropical paradise. I would guess that exploding ship is Imperial. The wings are reminiscent of Lambda-class shuttles. If anyone knows what kind of ship this is, let me know in the comments!

This shot really sets the tone of the movie for me. Mendelsohn’s Imperial officer makes his way through the aftermath of the battle. An X-Wing burns up ahead while dead Stormtroopers litter the path. This is definitely a war movie. 

Okay, this is where I just completely lost it. We see a cloaked figure kneel before some kind of ice tank or power source. Whatever it is, it’s being guarded by the Emperor’s Royal Guard. (I hope we get to see these crimson-armored warriors in action!)

Cloaks usually mean Force users in the Star Wars universe. And a black cloak definitely means a user of the Dark Side of the Force. Could this be a new Dark Side enemy? An Inquisitor, perhaps? Whoever he is, he’s out to find the Rebels and crush them.

Here’s a first look at Wen Jiang’s (Let the Bullets Fly) character. Is it me or does he look like some kind of tech specialist? Maybe it’s whatever he’s carrying on his back.

At some point, the Rebels decide to charge at a bunch of AT-ATs. Which seems like a bad idea. It almost looks like the Rebels are storming something resembling Normandy Beach here. I imagine Gareth Edwards looked at a lot of war photography when shooting the film. 

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Finally, we get Jyn dressed up as an Imperial agent. We can assume that most of the Rebels in this movie don’t make it in the end. They die getting those plans to the Rebellion. But what is Jyn’s fate?

We get a final snippet of dialogue from Forest Whitaker during this shot: “If you continue to fight, what will you become?”

Does Jyn switch allegiances at the end of the movie? Or is this a shot of her in disguise during her infiltration mission? We won’t know until the movie arrives on Dec. 16.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! I’ll be updating this for the rest of the day!

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.

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