“We’re trying to fuse the looks of our show and the look of Rogue One”
When the organisers of Star Wars
Celebration booked London’s ExCeL Centre for this year’s do, they probably had little idea we’d be just a few stops on the Docklands Light Railway from an
actual Star Wars location. Before we made our pilgrimage to Canary Wharf tube station (as seen in the
Rogue One trailer), however, we thought it might be best to take in some bona fide Star Wars news. Here are the biggest stories we dug up between the merchandise, the cosplay and the mind-boggling number of people getting Star Wars tattoos on site…
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marks out new territory for the series. The Force Awakens may be the biggest movie ever made by someone other than James Cameron, but that was a continuation of an old story, and a long-awaited return for screen icons like Han Solo, Princess Leia and (albeit briefly) Luke Skywalker. Rogue One, however, is a standalone tale about a bunch of unknown Rebel fighters on the hunt for the Death Star plans that kickstart A New Hope – with Mon Mothma the most famous representative of the good side, will the punters still care about Episode 3.9? Going on the reaction of the Star Wars faithful to Celebration’s Rogue One panel, the answer is a resounding yes. Even new Big Bad, Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), got a standing ovation when he arrived in the hall in full Imperial regalia, flanked by a pair of new-look Deathtroopers.
As well as the behind-the-scenes sizzle reel that Lucasfilm released online immediately after the panel, we were treated to a Celebration-only teaser. Not too much new footage, but we did see Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso as a child, and Darth Vader’s silhouette in the trailer’s final shot. “I can’t tell you what role he plays in the film because I don’t want to give that away,” teased director Gareth Edwards. (He did, however, reveal that Vader will say the word “Power”.)
Beyond that, we learned the names of a couple of planets – the tropical paradise planet with the AT-ACTs is called Scarif (the Maldives in real life), while the more deserty world (the Star Wars galaxy is packed with them, it seems) is Jedha. “Essentially the Mecca of Star Wars in that people go to on pilgrimages,” revealed Edwards.
We also got a bit more info on the characters, like the fact that Riz Ahmed’s pilot Bodhi Rook still works for the Empire while moonlighting for the Rebellion – “People work for big organisations, they don’t believe in everything
they do,” he said – and that Jyn’s dad Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) has an intriguing history. “I can say that’s he’s a scientist and he at one point invented something so beautiful, so fantastic that it might change the universe,” said the actor.
STAR WARS: REBELS
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the biggest news ahead of Star Wars
Rebels’ third season was cosmetic: young Padawan Ezra Bridger’s got a buzzcut; Mandalorian Sabine’s changed her hair colour again; lone Jedi Kanan (recently blinded by Darth Maul) has grown a beard! But there’s much more to be excited about in the proto-Rebellion – and not just because, as executive producer Dave Filoni put it, “We’re trying to fuse the looks of our show and the look of Rogue One, bringing the colourful things in our world closer to that.”
For starters, there’s a Time Lord presence, as Tom Baker shows up to voice a giant Forcesensitive being called the Bendu. And then there’s the “whip fans into a frenzy” news that Grand Admiral Thrawn, blue-skinned nemesis of the old Expanded Universe, is showing up as this year’s Big Bad. He’ll be voiced by Sherlock’s Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Rogue One’s Mads), and his creator, Timothy Zahn, is writing a new
Thrawn novel. Throw in a new jetpack for Sabine, a darksaber and some Empire-affiliated Mandalorians (“I may or may not be related to some of them,” said Sabine voice actor Tiya Sircar), not to mention a resurgent, out-forhimself Darth Maul trying to lure Ezra to the Dark Side, and you’ve got a very exciting era in the Star Wars galaxy. As for the question of whether Ahsoka Tano survived her season two finale scrap with Darth Vader? “I’m not going to say exactly, but you might not have seen the end of Ahsoka,” teased Filoni.
Rogue One opens on 16 December. Star Wars Rebels season three will air on Disney XD this autumn.
Director Orson Krennic lets the occasion go to his head. You would, wouldn’t you? Ben Mendelsohn with Death Star (not to scale). Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) on a break from rebelling.
Imperial officers know how to party. Rogue One stars Jiang Wen and Riz Ahmed. The Rebels crew show off their new looks. Grand Admiral Thrawn: a man with a perennial case of the blues.