'Rogue One' Burning Questions
With EW's new Rogue One issue now on newsstands, we're releasing a few new bonus images that didn't make the print edition of the Star Wars article. Along with them, some burning questions we're eager for the Dec. 16 film to answer. First up: The movie will feature never-before-seen vehicles, like the fang-toothed TIE Strikers (featured on our cover image), as well as some sinister new classes of Stormtroopers — like the black-masked Deathtrooper pictured here. Storywise, what became of these designs during later years of the galactic conflict? Were they experimental models? Will the Rebel victory be so complete that the Empire never uses them again?
Chirrut Imwe's Weapon
This shot of Donnie Yen's blind warrior-monk, Chirrut Imwe, gives us a good look at a new kind of weapon on his back. In the trailer, we see him face down a Stormtrooper using only a wooden staff. (No laser sword for him!) But the device slung on his back looks unusually ornamental for a mere blaster. It seems to be a more elegant version of the kind of bowcaster used by Chewbacca, and it makes me wonder if it has any historical significance. Also, what's a sightless warrior doing with any kind of blaster? Does his faith in the Force somehow help ensure his aim is true?
Rebel Soldiers Assemble
Here we see Diego Luna's Capt. Cassian Andor in the beach battle alongside some fellow Rebel soldiers — all of them human. From the original trilogy, we know a great many creatures also joined the Rebellion. Did those species line up and follow the lead of the humans after the events of Rogue One? Or have we just not seen some of the aliens who will join this battle? Director Gareth Edwards says there are at least two background creatures who fight with the squad, but they aren't major characters. "They're not necessarily front-and-center," he says, before joking: "But maybe one day, there'll be a spinoff movie."
Baze Malbus Takes Aim
While Chirrut puts his faith in the Force, Jiang Wen's hard-bitten soldier, Baze Malbus, clearly believes more in the force of firepower. Here we see him taking up position beside a crashed X-wing fighter, toting a blaster that's linked up to a massive power pack on his back. Was he the pilot of this downed vehicle? In the teaser, we see Chirrut taking out Stormtroopers with this wreckage in the background. Is this where the two meet and become brothers-in-arms — or does their friendship go back much further?
Jyn and Cassian
In the era of fandom 'shipping, it's only a matter of time before people start drawing hearts around Jyn and Cassian. The filmmakers say he's the reliable, stable one who counters her loose-cannon tendencies, sort of Murtaugh to her Riggs. (There's probably a fandom out there who 'ship the two Lethal Weapon characters, too.) No doubt Jyn and Cassian form a trust and a friendship, but does that always have to mean romance? Is there perhaps value in showing a man and woman whose partnership is strictly platonic, an example of two soldiers who share a deep affection for each other, but not necessarily in that way? Or are we just going to 'ship, 'ship, 'ship until the Banthas come home?
Storming the Beach
Don't worry, the Empire isn't using choppers alongside its TIE Strikers to strafe the Rebellion. This is a behind-the-scenes shot, showing Baze, Chirrut, and a squad of Rebel fighters storming the beach. The helicopter camera is a surprising element, however, because it's not typically the kind of shot we've seen before in a Star Wars film, which tend to be more classically composed. Edwards says he's going for a hand-held, you-are-there approach to filming this battle, and a hovering, swooping camera angle could be an interesting component of that. The question now is how this approach will alter the vibe of what a Star Wars film can be.
A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans.
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Cast: Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk and Jonathan Aris.
Release Date: December 16, 2016