‘Rogue One’ Trailer Breakdown: Our Star Wars Nerd Explains It All

TheWrap’s resident “Star Wars” expert details every shot in the “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” trailer, from Yavin to the Death Star

The new “Rogue One” movie trailer is a lot to take in, even for somebody like me who lives and breathes “Star Wars.” We’re all in this together, so let’s go scene by scene through the film’s first teaser and see what we can glean from it. If you don’t like reading, we’ve made a short video, embedded above, that’s also a pretty good guide.

OK, deep breath. Let’s do it.

jyn erso yavin star wars rogue one trailer

The trailer opens with a voiceover of charges against Jyn Erso, our hero. We then see a handcuffed Erso herself being led through the Rebel base in the ziggurat temple on Yavin IV. This setting should be familiar — it’s the secret Rebel base featured in the original “Star Wars.” “Rogue One” takes place prior to that film, in which the Rebels flee Yavin IV for the frozen wastes of Hoth.


mon mothma rogue one

“On your own from the age of 15. Reckless, aggressive and undisciplined,” Mon Mothma, leader of the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire, says to Erso.


jyn erso fighting star wars rogue one

Diego Luna‘s still-unnamed character looks on from the side. In the middle of this scene we cut to Erso taking out some stormtroopers the good old fashioned way, with a mix of hand-to-hand combat, blaster fire and explosives.

From what we know of the plot of “Rogue One,” Jyn Erso is not actually a part of the Alliance, but an independent rebel (lower-case) operator. Luna‘s character, on the other hand, appears to be a Rebel officer.

This could be a nod to the video game “Star Wars: Dark Forces,” in which Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors (remarkably similar to Jyn Erso, don’t you think?) steal the Death Star plans. That story is no longer part of the official “Star Wars” continuity, obviously.

rogue one death star

“We have a mission for you,” Mon Mothma says over this shot of Imperial Star Destroyers flying by the Death Star. “A major weapons test is imminent. We need to know what it is and how to destroy it.”

Yes, that is the first Death Star, from the original “Star Wars” film, seemingly undergoing installation of its superlaser projector. Mon Mothma is laying out the premise of the movie here: Jyn Erso is being tasked with stealing the Death Star plans. She has to assemble a crew and pull off a heist.

Then we get a bunch of out-of-context shots in quick succession.

jyn erso and diego luna

Jyn and Luna, among a bunch of Rebels, marching out of the hangar at the Rebel base.


ben mendelsohn admiral star wars rogue one

An Imperial admiral, the antagonist of “Rogue One,” played by Ben Mendelsohn standing menacingly in a stark off-white uniform and cape(!).


rogue one stormtrooper transport

Stormtroopers with an armored vehicle driving by a shadowy, masked figure.


forest whitaker rogue one

Forest Whitaker approaching the camera.


star wars rogue one guy

A helmeted Imperial stormtrooper in all black, looking creepy as hell.


rebel pilot prisoners rogue one

A group of Rebel pilots in Imperial custody, being led somewhere.

Now the action begins with several furious shots.

jubilee station rogue one

Our heroes run through what appears to be a gussied up Imperial version of a station on the London Underground’s Jubilee line.


donnie yen rogue one

Donnie Yen, who plays a member of Jyn’s crew, kicks some stormtrooper ass in a very Donnie Yen sort of way.


shuttle exploding rogue one

Some black-clad stormtroopers then fire at a large starship, parked on the ground, which explodes.


ben mendelsohn water dead bodies

Now things get mysterious. First, Ben Mendelsohn‘s caped bad guy marches through shallow water amid wreckage and dead stormtroopers.


star wars rogue one cloaked figure

Then we see a shot of a cloaked figure kneeling before a beam of light flanked by red Imperial Guards (the folks charged with protecting the Emperor).

This is the mystery of the day. Who is this guy? Is it Darth Vader?

Anyway, the trailer isn’t over yet. In case you hadn’t figured it out, Forest Whitaker has been providing the last bit of narration, part of which we see him speak. “What will you do when they catch you?” he says. “What will you do if they break you? Will you continue to fight? What will you become?”

wen jiang rogue one

To close it out, we get a great shot of Wen Jiang, a member of Jyn Erso’s heist crew, sprinting, rifle in hand.


rogue one star wars walker battle

And we arrive at the money shot. AT-AT walkers, the same behemoths the Empire sent after the Rebels on Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back,” shoot at Jyn’s crew as they sprint across what looks like a jungle beach. This plays to director Gareth Edwards‘ visual strengths in establishing a real sense of scope — the kind of thing that landed him the “Godzilla” movie.


star wars rogue one trailer

As Whitaker’s last bit of narration plays (“What will you become?”), we see Jyn Erso sporting an Imperial uniform. It looks like the uniform of a TIE Fighter pilot.

What this all adds up to is anyone’s guess. For now, let’s enjoy this trailer a couple hundred more times.