director krennic backstory

The most recent trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did a fine job of giving us basic introductions to our new band of Rebel heroes, with characters like Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and Chirrut Îmwe all getting a quick moment in the spotlight. That makes the lack of attention paid to Director Orson Krennic all the more obvious. Beyond a name, a fantastic outfit, and the fact that that he’s played by the great Ben Mendelsohn, we know very little about the man in charge of the Empire’s top secret Death Star Project.

But as is often the case with massive tentpole movies like this, new information has arrived not from anyone directly associated with the movie, but from a tie-in product. In this case, it’s the upcoming Star Wars novel Catalyst, which will explore the early days of Orson Krennic.

Jedi Bibliothek (via Star Wars Underworld) unearthed the publisher’s synopsis for Catalyst, which is written by regular Star Wars author James Luceno and will hit shelves on November 15, 2016. There’s a surprising amount of new information here, so let’s just dive right in:

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.

Okay, let’s break this down.

  • This story is set during the prequel era, specifically during the Clone Wars since words like “separatist” are being thrown around. Although fan opinion on the prequel movies remains uneven, the success of the Clone Wars animated series has really done wonders for this era in the Star Wars timeline. A Rogue One novel can be directly tied to this period and no one groans!
  • Orson Krennic is working on the Death Star during this period (although it’s not clear if he’s heading up the project or not) and from the sound of things, his team reports straight to Chancellor Palpatine (who has yet to overthrow Democracy and so on). This actually clarifies a lingering question from Revenge of the Sith: the Palpatine and Darth Vader can look upon the early skeleton of the Death Star at the end of that movie because Krennic and others have been secretly working on it behind the scenes for some time.
  • This synopsis explains a connection between Director Krennic and Galen Erso, the scientist played by Mads Mikkelsen in the film. It seems that Galen is old friends with Krennic and joins the project to pay back his old pal for saving him from a tight spot. This confirms old rumors that Galen would be responsible for creating the Death Star superlaser, which is capable of destroying an entire planet, and it also confirms old rumors that he had designed it against his will.
  • Since we that there is at least flashback in Rogue One featuring Galen and a young Jyn (who will grow up to be played by Felicity Jones and be the chief operator in the plan to steal the Death Star plans), we can possibly imply that there will be direct overlap between the events of this film and the prequels.

So there we go: the original Star Wars films are really all about an intergalactic family squabble and Rogue One is the super-sized version of what happens when you don’t decline a too-good-to-be-true offer from a family friend. The casting of Mendelsohn, who is so very good at playing dangerous men who wear civilized faces in public, makes perfect sense.

Anyway, if intriguing tidbits about a Brand New Star Wars Villain aren’t your cup of tea, a new advertisement for Rogue One playing cards reveals how Darth Vader will look during his small role in the film. Spoiler alert: he looks like Darth Vader.

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