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Her name is Jyn Erso. And she's not just the main character in Rogue One, she's also basically the title character. Until now, many assumed the name of the Dec. 16 film referred to the Rebellion's most famous X-Wing squadron, and there may still be a tangential connection. But the revelation in Thursday's teaser that Felicity Jones' character is a criminal, a rabble-rouser, and someone they need -- although not someone the Rebels necessarily trust -- gives the title a new dimension.
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Fans have wasted no time speculating that Jyn Erso could be Rey's long-lost mother from The Force Awakens. To be fair, pretty much every female who is cast in a Star Wars film ends up being tagged with the "Rey's Mom?" label -- ask Laura Dern, who's playing an unspecified part in next year's Episode VIII. But a similar physical appearance between Jones and Daisy Ridley, a shared independent streak, and scenes like this beat-down of old-school stormtroopers, which mirror's Rey's self-defense moves against Unkar Plutt's thugs, only add more circumstantial evidence to that theory.
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We know her. This is Mon Mothma, former senator and leader of the Rebel Alliance. She was the one who delivers the Rebel briefing about the second Death Star in 1983's Return of the Jedi, and she was portrayed then by Caroline Blakiston. (That's the one where "many Bothan spies died" to bring the Rebels information about the second Death Star.) Mothma was supposed to turn up briefly in 2005's Revenge of the Sith, played by Genevieve O’Reilly, but the scene was cut and she appeared only in a deleted scene on the DVD. But ... O'Reilly is back! A Lucasfilm source confirms that's her playing the character again in Rogue One -- and this time there's no chance of ending up on the cutting room floor.
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The trailer didn't reveal a character name for Diego Luna's character, who is seen listening to Jyn's scolding/recruitment by Mon Mothma. But whoever he is, he appears to be the grounding force the Rebellion thinks this loose cannon needs. He's her new partner, and they're going to be running (literally, it seems) this effort to steal the Death Star plans together.
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Ben Mendelsohn turns up in this ominous shot as what appears to be a Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy, the Empire's version of the lobster-like Admiral Ackbar on the Rebellion side. The rank insignia on his chest identifies him as an admiral, and the crisp white uniform tells you he's actually a step above. We've seen Grand Admirals in some of the Star Wars extended universe storytelling, most notable Grand Admiral Thrawn from the Timothy Zahn trilogy of books in the early 1990s, but one has never turned up onscreen before.
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Here we see Luna and Jones running through some type of Imperial facility. (A garrison of stormtroopers is running the other direction on the opposite side of what appears to be some kind of rail station.) Note the tall, bony droid running behind them. We glimpse this character in the background of another scene, when Jyn ends up cornered in an alley by stormtroopers, and we know Alan Tudyk (Firefly) plays a motion-capture character in the film. It's a good bet he's going to be this metallic sidekick.
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Here are the troopers sprinting on the other side of the platform. In addition to the retro white stormtroopers, we also see a new class of Imperial soldier -- the sand-colored scout troopers mingled among their bleached brethren. Exactly why they're different looking and what role they play in the Empire's navy is unclear, but we first caught sight of these uniforms in August, when Donnie Yen published a photo of some of Rogue One's new trooper helmet designs.
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Coming soon to a Christmas tree or birthday party near you: the Star Wars hover tank! The commander of that vehicle, which is escorting some captives, seems to have a similar helmet to those sand-colored stormtroopers from the earlier image. These appear to be white, but there's a lot of smoke and dust -- so maybe that's a blue/gold dress effect playing tricks on the eye..
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Also on the helmet shelf that Yen released was this iron-gray Imperial soldier, seen here on alert while the vaporator from a moisture farm burns in the background. This looks to be the aftermath of the beachside battle we see in the trailer. This design is by far the most sinister of any stormtrooper we've seen so far, almost echoing the look of Darth Vader himself. Whoever these guys are, they have to be some elite force the Empire breaks out only for special occasions.
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AT-ATs coming at-at you. These designs seem to have different coloring, and appear slightly slimmer and more agile than the bulkier four-legged walkers we saw stomping toward the Rebel base on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. That may be an optical illusion due to the yellow plates on the sides, which make the arch of the vehicle's back seem a little taller than those earlier (or, in the narrative chronology, later) designs. Still, what works on snow appears to work just as well on sand as they attempt to crush the Rebel forces.
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This ship calls to mind the batwing shuttle flown by Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, although it has four upright wings instead of two. We don't know where the Imperials are, or what the context may be for this battle, but it looks to be an ambush of some sort. The palm trees and shoreline make it almost seem like the Star Wars version of Pearl Harbor. That would make this the destruction of an important battleship.
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Here we see Mendelsohn's Imperial admiral wading through the tide after the beach battle is complete. There are bodies in the surf and smoldering wreckage on the shore. His regal cape drags in the water. We can't tell his state of mind, but this could result in a powerful Patton-like scene of an aggressive military leader surveying the sacrifice of his rank-and-file soldiers. God help him, maybe he loves it so.
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Another caped character seen only from behind. The timeline of this story, just prior to the original Star Wars, means Darth Vader is alive and at his peak during the events of Rogue One. Is this him, approaching a glowing, cylindrical tank? This shadowy figure doesn't really move like Vader, though. That tube is flanked by the crimson colored Royal Guard, who are like the secret service, protecting Emperor Palpatine -- who also could appear in this film. In fact, maybe this is him...
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While we may not see the Death Star destroyed in Rogue One (remember, that has already happened in another movie), we apparently will see it being built. Here, we're shown that iconic concave dish being moved into place. This is the device that combines all the battle station's tributary beams into one super laser, capable of pulverizing whole planets into asteroid fields. Watch your six, Alderaan...
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As a terrifying alarm sounds, we see Jones and Luna racing into action alongside a squad of X-Wing pilots, with a few of those starships arrayed in the background. Although it's hard to know for sure, the walls of this hangar look a lot like stone, and it calls to mind the Yavin 4 temple the Rebellion uses as a secret stronghold in the original Star Wars. That was the place Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin were hoping to find when they were torturing Princess Leia, and showing it again would be a fascinating callback.
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Jiang Wen is barreling toward the Empire like a runaway truck, a screaming commando ready to die or kill -- whichever comes first. Since we aren't given any context for his character, the best we can do is speculate about what it is he's carrying in that tank on his back. Flamethrower? Some other kind of demolition gear? In any case, it's his expression of total fearlessness that makes him so imposing.
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A staff? That's no match for a good blaster at your side, Donnie Yen. But in his hands, this doesn't seem to be a problem. One thing that's missing from the Rogue One trailer that we've seen in every other Star Wars movie is the presence of a lightsaber. Yen's character gives us a taste of that familiar hand-to-hand combat, but without the glowing blade of a laser sword. Not to mention, it calls to mind Rey's staff-wielding in The Force Awakens. (Cue theory: IS THIS REY'S DAD???) In the background, there's a crashed X-Wing, and beyond that, a cityscape that resembles the type of architecture seen at the Hagia Sophia. This is a place of sophistication, of wealth, and Yen's character projects the same.
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Forest Whitaker, on the other hand, looks like a madman. Armored and weary, he staggers through this tunnel (sewer?) like a street rat who has some pieces missing after many years of hard-won survival. We don't know his name, don't know his role in the story, but he has some Yoda-esque wisdom for Jyn: Whatever it is you fight to save, inevitably you lose something, too.
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As Whitaker's character doles out his guidance, we see this image of Jyn appear over his words: “If you continue to fight, what will you become?” The minute-and-a-half teaser trailer goes to great effort to make it clear that her character is an unstable element. There's no talk of the Force, or any of that familiar Jedi/Sith mysticism, but she is obviously someone who straddles both the light and dark. Is her appearance in the uniform of a Death Star gunner or TIE Fighter pilot a sign that she could be a traitor? Doubtful. Most likely a disguise. But the fact that she passes so well says something, too.
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No, this wasn't in the trailer, but here's where we talk about what you didn't get to see in the Rogue One teaser. Since Vader is alive and well -- and, as we know from the first Star Wars -- on the hunt for the Death Star plans the Rebels stole, it would be a huge shock if he wasn't included in this film. But for now, Lucasfilm needs to introduce us to the characters we don't know before resurrecting one we know all too well. Also absent from the trailer: Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Nightcrawler) and Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale.) The film has many more surprises to reveal before its Dec. 16 debut.