By Jim Frye
Strap in, pilots, because Lucasfilm’s brand-new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens this weekend with more aliens, spaceships, and adventure than you can shake a hyperdrive motivator at. And you don’t need to rewatch all your favorite Star Wars moments to prepare for this new chapter in the history of the Death Star (but we did!). To help get you ready for your journey back to that galaxy far, far away, here are seven things you should know to make the trip easier.
1. First and foremost, Rogue One is not a sequel to Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Rather, it is the very first Star Wars stand-alone movie, separate from the main “saga films” that deal with the Skywalker family. The next saga film, Episode VIII, comes out next December. Rogue One focuses on all-new characters. “Until now, Star Wars has focused on the Skywalker Family saga,” says Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman and CEO. “But as the first stand-alone film in the franchise, Rogue One opens up a whole new universe for Star Wars storytelling, and we’re thrilled to see audiences as excited about it as we are.” That leads us to our next point…
2. The timeframe of Rogue One is right before the beginning of Episode IV: A New Hope. What exactly does that mean? It means that if you were to put all the films on a chronological timeline, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith would be placed approximately 30 years before Episode IV: A New Hope, whereas, the action of Rogue One is tucked right up next to Episode IV. And that’s the next thing you should know…
3. Rogue One is all about the mission to steal the original Death Star plans. Fans of the original Star Wars fondly remember the first time they saw the “crawl”—the prologue words that “crawled” up the screen at the beginning of the film. To fully understand what Rogue One is about, all you need to do is read the crawl from Episode IV: A New Hope, which says:
“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy.”
Rogue One is the story of those Rebel spies and how they stole those plans.
4. Tuck the term “Kyber Crystal” into your memory bank. Why? Because Kyber Crystals were once used by the Jedi and the Sith to power their lightsabers. Fans of Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels are familiar with these rare crystals, which are valued for their ability to focus energy. It’s this ability that also makes them a hot commodity for the Empire, which seeks them out for nefarious purposes. And speaking of animated Star Wars TV shows…
5. The character of Saw Gerrera, from season five of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, shows up in Rogue One. He is the first character to make the transition from an animated Star Wars show to a live-action Star Wars film. Played by Forest Whitaker in , Saw is a war-hardened veteran who fought alongside Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars and has no love for the Empire—he wants nothing more than to see it destroyed.
6. Darth Vader is back. Yup, that’s right—the big, bad Lord of the Sith, Dark Vader, is back and badder than ever. This makes sense, considering that Vader is intimately involved with the events surrounding the Death Star. Fans got their first introduction to Vader’s imposing black helmet, cape, and deep mechanical breaths back in 1977’s A New Hope, where Vader supported the efforts of Grand Moff Tarkin (played by the incredible Peter Cushing) to make the Death Star fully operational. And since we’re talking about characters who “are back…”
7. Mon Mothma makes her triumphant return. As one of the leaders of the Rebellion in 1983’s Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, it is Mon Mothma who famously utters the words, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.” Bail Organa, the Senator of Alderaan and adoptive father to Princess Leia Organa, was an ally to Mothma in the early days of the Rebellion. In Rogue One, Mothma demonstrates the wisdom and grace that defines her character and makes her such an important leader in the fight against the Empire.
BONUS: Although this isn’t a “need-to-know,” there is one more little tid-bit you might want to be on the lookout for: Blue milk. And that’s all we’ll say.
Be “one with the Force” with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in theaters now.