'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Trailer Breakdown: Going Through The First Teaser Frame-By-Frame

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been flying under the radar, waiting for everyone to fully exhaust themselves on Star Wars: The Force Awakens before revealing itself. And oh boy, has it revealed itself. The first trailer is here and it's a doozy, filled with all kinds of incredible imagery, promising characters, and, for the lack of a more elegant phrase, really cool stuff. And you know what that means – it's time for a frame-by-frame trailer breakdown.

One word of warning: this article will dive into various internet rumors that have circulated this project for the past year. Some may be true. Some may not. I recommend bringing a pinch of salt along for this particular journey. If you want to know nothing about the film, you should probably turn around now.

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The first thing that hits you when you start watching this trailer is the music. Yeah, it's a variation on an iconic John Williams track, but it's been modified just enough to evoke all kinds of new feelings. It's melancholy and eerie, setting the mood for a film that looks ready to explore the dark and grimy underbelly of the Star Wars universe. It's not clear if this is a piece from Alexandre Desplat's actual score or not, but it's an indicator that the music of this universe is in fine hands, even as Williams himself steps away from the series. As for the opening shot itself, it's simple enough: Felicity Jones' character is led through a doorway, past one of those Rebel soldiers wearing one of those dumb helmets. We first saw these uniforms in the opening scene original 1977 Star Wars, when these guys acted as the last line of defense between Darth Vader and Princess Leia and got ruthlessly slaughtered by Stormtroopers.

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And she turns around, looks right at the camera and we hear her state her name: Jyn Erso. Star Wars news nuts have heard rumors that the main character in this film has been named Jyn for a few months now, but now we have confirmation (and a last name). As she walks, an offscreen voice describes her various crimes: forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest. In other words, she's one tough cookie who doesn't care for authority. She certainly sounds like the kind of person you want resisting the Empire.

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As her crimes are read out loud offscreen, Jyn is escorted through a Rebel base that looks very much like the base on Yavin IV, as seen in the first Star Wars film. It appears to be housed in an old temple and the hanging vines suggest a jungle outside. It would make sense when you consider the timeframe of this film – the Rebellion only packs up and relocates to Hoth when the Death Star almost destroys them following the rescue of Princess Leia.

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Here's our first sighting of a re-cast original trilogy character. That is quite clearly Mon Mothma, the Rebel diplomat and leader initially introduced in Return of the Jedi ("Many Bothans died to bring us this information"), where she was played by Caroline Blakiston. Here she's played by Genevieve O'Reilly, who also played a younger version of the character in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Mothma has been a major player in the Star Wars expanded universe, so it makes sense that she'd pop up here. It's also a lot easier to cast a new Mon Mothma than it is to cast a new Leia Organa. She's on hand to introduce Jyn – according to Mothma, she's "reckless, aggressive and undisciplined." You'll also note that she says Jyn has been on her own since she was 15, possibly confirming early rumors that the lead of Rogue One is an orphan with a grudge against the Empire for killing her parents. Maybe. Take that one with some salt.

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Here's our first glimpse at Diego Luna's character, who seems to be present in the meeting between Jyn and Mon Mothma. He doesn't get a name or even a line of dialogue, but he looks like an experienced Rebel soldier with at least some authority. After all, why else would he be sitting in on this exchange?

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Note the very tall, very thin droid standing behind Jyn in this quick shot. It's out of focus and mostly obscured, but this is very likely the motion capture character that Alan Tudyk is playing in the film. Buzz has suggested that he's playing a reprogrammed Imperial assault droid who towers over an average human. This certainly looks like the case.

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Not much to say here except that Jyn looks very capable of taking on Stormtroopers. She already seems to be a very different flavor of heroine from The Force Awakens' Rey – she's rough and vicious and ready to fight dirty. She doesn't look ready to embark on a Hero's Journey as much as she looks ready to blow everything up and punch the survivors in the face.

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"This is a Rebellion, isn't it? I rebel." Is Jyn an established member of the Rebellion or is she a newbie? It's not entirely clear, but I'd guess the latter, especially since we saw her being escorted on to the base earlier in the trailer. This exchange with Mon Mothma sounds like a job interview.

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Director Gareth Edwards has called Rogue One a war movie and shots like this sell that concept more than any number of big action beats. The look of determination and fear on Jyn's face as she takes off in this ship sell the horrors of war more than a dozen explosions. But explosions do help and this trailer has a few.

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The trailer establishes the plot we've all known about for some time now: our heroes are on a mission to investigate the Empire's latest weapon. The reveal of the Death Star, at it emerges from the shadows alongside a fleet of Star Destroyers, is stunning. If there's one thing Edwards has always been good at (and it's on full display in Monsters and Godzilla), it's a sense of scale.

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Like J.J. Abrams, Edwards knows the power of Star Wars iconography and he uses it to great effect in this shot. We know exactly what this weapon does and it's downright terrifying. But unlike J.J. Abrams, Edwards is free to create a new tone that is different from the main series. Seeing these images in service of a story that looks unlike anything we've seen before in a Star Wars movie is truly exciting.

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Unless I'm mistaken, this character appears to be played by Alistair Petrie, a British actor who has appeared in films like Rush, The Bank Job and Cloud Atlas. The exact nature of his role is unclear, but he seems to be Mon Mothma's right hand man in this scene, the grizzled tough guy to her diplomat.

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Here's your Rebel hero shot: Jyn, Diego Luna's character, ground troops, and X-Wing pilots all organize for...something. You just know it's something fun and happy. Rebels have a habit of, you know, dying.

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Here's our first look at the main villain of the movie, an Imperial commander played by the great Ben Mendelsohn. We don't know his name or his title, but we do know that he's achieved a high enough rank that he can wear all white and a cape. If you take a closer look, you'll note that the rank on his chest has as many boxes as Grand Moff Tarkin's, but the red row lies over the blue row, while Tarkin's rank was signified by a blue row over a red and yellow row. In any case, we can safely assume that this guy is a serious Imperial bigwig and that he won't get taken down easily. Considering the plot of the movie, we can even assume that he's the guy in charge of Death Star construction.

A friend of the site sent in this observation: "The shot of Mendelsohn is on the Deathstar. Looks like same "situation" room that Tarkin and Vader were in. Also, same graphic on the display."

UPDATE: To answer the question posed in the tweet below...maybe? Probably not. But maybe?

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We've known that Rogue One will introduce a variety of different Stormtroopers and the trailer delivers in a big way. Sure, the guys standing in the foreground are standard, vanilla troops, but note the guy sitting on top of the hover tank. There's going to be a different Stormtrooper for every job in this movie...which gives Lucasfilm a lot more toys to sell and cosplayers far more opportunities.

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Enter Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, playing...who knows? Internet rumor-mongering claimed that he was playing a shady criminal type whose body has been decimated by battle and this image doesn't quite confirm that. However, his bulky suit could be keeping him alive and mobile and he is walking with a cane. Is that a breathing tube running to his neck?

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This quick shot is huge. We've known that Rogue One would introduce black-armored Stormtroopers and we've known that these guys are apparently the worst of the worst, the special forces of the Imperial military. They've been known online as "Death Troopers," but it's not entirely clear if that's a code name, an actual title, or just total B.S. In any case, they definitely look imposing and their armor design is different enough to stand out while looking instantly recognizable as a Stormtrooper. We're going to be seeing a lot of these guys, both in marketing and on convention floors.

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There are three things to take away from this shot. First, that row of Rebel prisoners is a reminder that Rogue One looks to be a harsher movie than the rest of the Star Wars series, examining what actually goes into launching a rebellion against a overly powerful and sinister force. Second, that Stormtrooper is wearing a black shoulder pad, which probably means...something. He looks like he may be in charge of something. Third, this scene takes place in a crowded market, which means Edwards is going to get to fill the frame with all kinds of aliens and creatures and whatnot. Every Star Wars movie needs its Cantina scene.

UPDATE: A reader has pointed to a canon reason for this black shoulder pad:

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That's Jyn and Diego Luna's character running down a corridor of what looks like an Imperial base (maybe even the Death Star?). But more importantly, this shot offers another look at Tudyk's droid character.

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Meanwhile, in another Imperial base corridor, here are a bunch of Stormtroopers. Note the beige-colored troopers in the crowd – maybe these guys are intended for desert warfare?

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We don't know the name of Donnie Yen's character in Rogue One, but since he's played by Donnie Yen, we know that he's most likely a total badass. As noted in the first cast photo released so long ago, his character is blind...but he is armed with a staff. And he's played by Donnie Yen. Look at those Stormtroopers, gathered around like idiots, totally unaware that they're underestimating a character played by Donnie Yen.

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Look, if you haven't seen any Donnie Yen movies, you should fix that right now. Go start with Ip Man. Then you'll realize why I'm so excited to watch this guy decimate Stormtroopers in a Star Wars movie.

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Here's another shot of those "Death Troopers," just in case you want to start assembling a proper costume in time for Comic-Con. I honestly have nothing to add beyond "These guys look really cool." And they also seem to be involved in some kind of big action set piece in a tropical region...

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...that ultimately features the destruction of this big ship...

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...and apparently requires the presence of Ben Mendelsohn's mystery villain. Since the sun is setting and the ground is littered with the corpses of Stormtroopers, it looks like he's surveying the aftermath of a battle that his forces lost. The most important thing to talk about here is how he manages to keep that white cape clean, especially since he's obviously not shy about letting it drag all over the place. The Empire must have the best dry cleaners in the galaxy.

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What have we here? Something important enough to be guarded by the Emperor's Royal Guard, the soldiers who are literally tasked with protecting Palpatine himself. And who is the cloaked figure approaching the scene? It's definitely not Darth Vader (who is in this movie in some capacity) and it doesn't look like Mendelsohn's character either, unless he has a variety of different colored cloaks and capes that he wears for different situations. Discuss this one amongst yourselves.

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"What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?" Forest Whitaker has seen some shit, man.

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Like most of the supporting cast, Jiang Wen doesn't get a name or line of dialogue, but he does get a cool action hero moment where he runs toward the camera while things explode around him. Early rumors suggested that he plays a bounty hunter who joins the Rebel cause and his heavily scuffed armor certainly makes him look the part. But once again: salt. Lots of it.

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Remember how we talked about Gareth Edwards understanding the importance of scale? Well, he really, really understands the importance of scale. This is a downright incredible shot, a terrifying look at what it must feel like to be an under-equipped freedom fighter in a war against an enemy who can throw AT-AT Walkers at you. Also, note the tropical surroundings – this appears to be from the same scene glimpsed earlier in the trailer.

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The trailer ends with this big shot of Felicity Jones in Imperial garb, which brings up a kinds of questions. It's a shot that wants you to wonder what's going on and what this could mean. I may have an answer for this, but just in case you want to know nothing, I'll keep in nice and hidden. Highlight the rest of this paragraph if you want to delve a little deeper. You here? Okay. Rumors from reliable sites (the same ones whose scoops have been confirmed by much of this trailer) say that there is a scene in Rogue One where Jyn and Diego Luna's characters dress up as Imperial soldiers to go undercover. This shot must be from that scene. So there you go. No one is having a change of heart or switching sides. At least not Jyn.

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And that's that. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on December 16, 2016.