So many pretty new pictures! I got together over the weekend with David Schwarz, Ben Crofts, and eventually, guest contributor Nick Adams, to discuss our immediate reactions—thrills, hopes and concerns—to the new trailer for Rogue One that premiered last Thursday. That’s all there is to say—enjoy!
Mike: First topic: it’s hard to have a measured conversation about a trailer without devolving into “ohmigod that shot was so cool”, so purely from an aesthetic standpoint, what were some of your favorite images?
David: It’s hard to choose, isn’t it? That trailer was a feast!
Ben: Superlaser star destroyer eclipse, Donnie Yen = badass
Ben: The canyon sequences were damn cool.
David: I have to go with the Death Star eclipsing Jedha’s sun. There’s something primal about eclipses, I guess. Plus it made me think about what the view from Alderaan was.
Mike: I choose to think that the Death Star went out of its way to block the sun just to mess with everybody.
Ben: Eclipses are just a great homage to THAT Empire sequence with the Executor. There’s also that talk Tarkin gives in Darklighter about seeing the Death Star rise above a world.
Mike: I wonder if Alderaan could see it at all—it seems way, way closer to Jedha than it was to Alderaan. Which could have any number of implications.
David: I also loved the final shot, the “we are with you to the end”. A bunch of nobodies ready to fight the Empire. 100% Star Wars.
David: But honestly, there are so many to choose from! I loved Bodhi’s face to Cassian and K-2SO. He does seem like the nervous mess they have been teasing.
Mike: I wish he’d gotten a line or two. He’s the one I was most interested in going in…then Chirrut spoke instead.
Ben: And it was so good.
David: Chirrut and Baze are going to be the commoners from Hidden Fortress, and I love it.
Ben: Had they got that line done by anyone else it wouldn’t have been so great, but Donnie Yen? Perfect match.
Ben: Yeah, it was packed – that tank the stormtroopers had? AT-AT meet bazooka? So good.
David: And yessss repulsor tanks! So happy to see that on screen for the first time! W to the E to the G
Mike: How directly are those tanks drawn from WEG, design-wise? Or is just a matter of “tanks, but y’know, Star Wars”?
David: Well, we haven’t seen the whole body, but they look a bit like one of the tanks shown in the Adventure Journal (forgot the issue #). It’s more about the concept. Walkers are just so inappropriate for narrow streets. I hope we see them on Lothal!
Mike: Yeah, the fact that they’re called “all-terrain” is really hilarious
David: Oh, Jyn dragging herself towards that TIE Fighter—powerful image right there.
Mike: I’m trying really, really hard not to map my EU preconceptions onto this story, but that shot just screamed Dark Forces to me.
Mike: I don’t even know if I’m thinking of a specific moment of the game, just something about it made me immediately “know” what was happening.
David: Well, they seem to be veeeery high above Scarif.
Mike: And she’s veeery determined to get to the water-cooler-looking thing.
David: yep yep
David: A couple of things come to mind: they are getting picked up or they need to send something from up-top.
Mike: She may be the only one left by that point–notwithstanding the popular theory that there’s a friendly in the TIE.
David: I still hope someone survives to tell the story. My main options would be K-2SO and Cassian.
Ben: Everyone is going with the idea that they all die, but few war films have done that – some will certainly die but not all.
David: Yeah, I’m thinking Guns of Navarone (and I’m glad Pablo confirmed there’s some GoN in the movie, because it did look like that). There are a few survivors in that movie—enough for that forgettable sequel we do not talk about.
Ben: I don’t think this’ll be as grim as people think too, the humour’ll be bleak but it’ll probably be there.
Mike: I wonder if they might do an I-5 kind of thing where Kaytoo survives but his memory is whacked—he could even end up back in Imperial service and just float around the galaxy as a plot bunny for later years.
David: That would be grim.
Mike: Sounds like a fun RPG hook—“you come into possession of a droid that stole the Death Star plans and forgot about it”.
David: It does! I think a Guns of Navarone session is in my near future. I haven’t seen that movie since, er, I adapted it into an RPG adventure called Hyperguns of Noravan (not guilty about it!).
Mike: Moving on, something you guys discussed in your joint piece after the first teaser trailer was the holistic feel of the film with regard to original trilogy designs. Now we’re starting to see new designs like the U-wing and the TIE Striker; how do you feel about retconning (if that’s even the word for it) new stuff into this era in addition to picking elements from all the older films?
Nick: The costumes for Rogue One are brilliant. A great mix of ANH, ESB, and ROTJ troopers. The trailer FEELS like the OT.
David: I think it’s completely okay. There’s nothing wrong with not seeing these new designs in the OT. Same with the death troopers, et cetera. I’ve seen some fans being irked about it, and it’s a bit like watching Top Gun and being angry because Apache helicopters and Navy SEALs are not in the movie. Not the right mission profile!
Ben: It plays into the expansion they’ve been doing for the OT from the start, making the civil war a much bigger deal. What they seem to be going for is the sense you can’t get the complete story from the films, but you need the books and comics. Cynically commercial? Sure but if the product’s good no one’s going to care.
David: I think Revenge of the Sith and its rainbow troopers made me immune to seeing new things in Star Wars and thinking “for the toys”, hahahaha!
Ben: Sounds like misplaced priorities – we’re getting a near-as-dammit Wraith Squadron and people are bitching about tech models?
Mike: I have zero problem with expanding the variety of craft and so on, but one thing I’m kiiind of iffy on is shoretroopers—that seems specialized to the point of ridiculousness. Or is it just me?
David: It’s a bit weird, yes.
Mike: Like, they need guys to advise the regular stormies on how to walk through sand?
David: I hope it’s just an unofficial nickname and they are, dunno, marine stormtroopers.
Mike: Yeah, that’d be better. Design variety is one thing, actual discrete units for every possible terrain is another.
Nick: Shoretroopers? Eh, kinda stupid. WAY too specialized, plus on the shore you can use standard stormies. Personally, I’m not a fan of hundreds of Stormtrooper variants.
Ben: Could also be part of the humour, they get dubbed that by the rebs.
Ben: Think of the commercial application Nick, it’d out-Pokemon Pokemon!
David: Or tropical planet stormtrooper or…yeah, anything but beachtroopers (although that’d make a great fanfilm).
Ben: You could have the SSS, Specialised Sewer Squad – guess the nickname for those stormtroopers!
David: Teenage Mutant Storm Troopers?
Ben: That’d do though I was thinking more anglo-saxon!
Mike: On a related note–what do you say to people who think “death troopers” is a conflict with the zombie ones?
David: Ha, I was just thinking about that.
Ben: Doesn’t really matter now does it, the zombies are now Legends.
Mike: Devil’s advocate–but they’re in that mobile game!
Ben: Oh? That’s what I get for not having a mobile – nah, it’s a big galaxy.
David: I’m not going to be mad because a mobile phone recanonized (questionably) something that has the same unit name as the Rogue One troopers.
Mike: Also, the idea that zombie stormtroopers are a thing that would have an official classification IU…
David: I mean, I lived through dark troopers, Dark Troopers, darktroopers and Darktroopers.
Mike: On the other hand, TIE Strikers as potentially a special unit of the Advanced Weapons Research division I think is a pretty cool idea. I love them in that context, but I hope they don’t just appear randomly going forward
Nick: Yeah, I’m loving the TIE Strikers. Ditto the U-wing troop transport/gunship. Basically, it is like an armed Huey or Blackhawk helicopter. Drop off the troops, circle above, provide cover fire.
David: First I saw TIE Strikers, I thought they’d either be a previous iteration of the TIE Interceptor or an atmospheric variant of the TIE Fighter.
Ben: They look to have been reasonably careful on where things crop up.
David: Yeah, they are cautious. I’m not excessively worried.
Mike: So far, anyway. It’s one of those things where in the EU everyone wanted to play with the coolest toy *coughthrawncough* even when it wasn’t appropriate.
Mike: Though I could see someone like Kreel in the SW comic using a Striker—VIPs within the military structure. That said, maybe they actually suck—they’re still TIEs after all.
Nick: Speaking of the OT “look”, I can totally picture U-wings evacuating Hoth alongside all the medium transports and X-wings.
Mike: Oh man, that’s a fun idea.
Nick: I love it when a design is so classic looking it blends in seamlessly.
David: I mean, the only time we see a commando unit in the OT, they are using a Lambda shuttle for subterfuge.
Ben: Could also see them in the background of Twilight Company’s activities too.
Nick: Good point Ben.
David: Yeah, I’m hoping Mr. Freed gets many ideas from his novelization to add to his future TC novels (there are going to be more, period).
Nick: I am wondering if other OT ships will appeal in RO.
Ben: Well, I did preorder the RO novel today from the Empire so we’ll see what’s in that in a few months.
Mike: Would you guys say the EU was too quick to make things’ OT debut into their IU debut? No A-wings before Return of the Jedi, etc?
Nick: Yes, I think the old EU handled that poorly.
Ben: Legends likely was a bit too deferential to the films but it was also expected. Now? We’re at the point where it can diverge. Legends B-wings were developed by Ackbar but he didn’t turn up until between ANH / ESB so that locks that in.
David: Yes, I think that was a mistake during the EU’s time—which just causes clunky retcons to be added. Plus hey, A-wings in Droids, an early, early source. There was no need to mess with that. And Strike Force Shantipole had Ackbar between ANH and ESB modifying existing B-wings, so they existed already.
Mike: I don’t even see it as deference to the films—just because something isn’t at Yavin doesn’t need to mean it didn’t exist. That’s Endor Holocaust-level literalism.
David: As usual, the early sources had better sense. *cough*
Nick: I’m also not a fan of certain Rebel groups ONLY using certain ships. That may work pre-Alliance to Restore the Republic, but not post.
David: Yeah, I love it as an early rebellion idea, though. So, so, so much.
Nick: Once the formal Alliance is built, the Rebels become a military organization. Not fully standardized, but now all units can have access to better weapons. Pre-Alliance, it’s great. Post-Alliance, it makes no sense. Mon Mothma has folks like Ackbar and Dodonna to build a formal, organized military for her. It’s what they do.
Ben: Only using certain ships? Surely you’d grab anything you could get your hands on?
Mike: But the early cells were more localized, so “what you can get your hands on” is limited to what’s nearby.
David: I’m hoping the X-wings come from Saw Gerrera’s faction. Maybe that’s why they actually go to Jedha.
David: I’m not sure how they’d get to Yavin in time for ANH, but I still like the idea.
Nick: I’m still incredibly interested to see the NEU explanation for Nebulon-B frigate. My gut says it won’t be a Imperial design.
David: I’m thinking former Confederate ship.
Mike: Lastly, I wanted to address this cast’s interesting status on the diversity spectrum. Looking at that final group shot, it’s really something that we’re getting such a multicultural cast of humans in major roles—and with a variety of accents, even! But that shot also just slaps you in the face with its lack of women. How much does a (potentially) awesome lead female mitigate the (apparent) lack of female bit parts?
Nick: Women AND aliens, Coop…
David: Yes, it’s…dunno, surprising.
Ben: Technically it also ticks the disability box with Donnie Yen as Blind Asskicker too.
David: First, I don’t really mind the lack of aliens. Sorry, Coop. I’ve always seen the GFFA as highly human, probably because of (all together) WEG.
Ben: The old line was, I think, that the Rebellion started with humans then spread.
Nick: I read an interview in Entertainment Weekly this week where we learn that Jyn looks up to strong female leaders like Mon Mothma. So at least RO is showing that the leader of a galaxy wide rebellion is a WOMAN. Which I love.
Mike: Well there’s two axes there, re: women and aliens—the former have a couple important roles but no randos, whereas there are at least a few rando aliens but apparently no one important. In either case, female roles are a bigger issue because that has real-world effects.
David: Second… yeah, the lack of females is surprising. It’s almost like the Force Awakens-era is more diverse than the OT-era, and it makes me wonder if it’s on purpose.
Ben: And the big surprise on the first trailer was the recognition Mothma had in the general audience.
Nick: Ben – the old EU followed that view, but the NEU is clear that this wasn’t a humans-founded organization. It is a multi-species and -world founded Alliance.
David: Which is fine. The prequel trilogy made clear the galaxy was much more diverse than the original movies made it look. So it’s how it is.
Ben: In which case, a few more aliens are needed than in RO.
David: Well, they seem to be recruiting on-site, right? Maybe Jedha is mostly human.
Nick: The OT lacking diversity is a product of its time (70’s) and budget. The Home One briefing in RotJ is much more in line with George’s vision of the GFFA. We have men & women of various backgrounds and races, we’ve got multiple aliens, and we’ve got age diversity too.
David: But yes, I’m not too worried about aliens. Gender and ethnicity are what I care about. At the same time, I’m not going to deny the importance of Rey and Jyn being two female leads, back to back.
Mike: It seems like there are basically two main demographic breakdowns IU—ninety-percent-human areas, and areas like Maz’s castle where it’s a madhouse.
Mike: Actually, I wonder how many of the Maz aliens and cantina aliens are female…
Nick: It’s funny, the most diverse worlds we’ve seen are Coruscant and Tatooine. Opposite ends of the galaxy, but both diverse.
Ben: So you want that xenophobic ass Fey’lya back? He’d do Bothan-only areas if he could get away with it.
Nick: David – yeah, great point. Both movies have a female lead, this is an incredible achievement.
Mike: What’s interesting is, TFA not only had Rey but a good amount of women in the overall Resistance (and FO, even!). It remains possible that RO could mimic that, but it doesn’t look very good so far.
David: I’m beyond myself that a Hispanic character is one of the main leads. Like…about fucking time. And even happier that it’s Diego Luna, who I’ve liked as an actor since he was an awkward teenager. Representation onscreen, in my opinion, should always have an inspirational purpose. If we are going to represent an ideal version of the universe, the only reason is to create role models for minorities and oppressed groups. So, how important is it that the “wallpaper” characters are not that diverse? I can see the benefits of a strong female character in a male-dominated world. Now that’s an experience that speaks to many! Yet still…all other talking roles…apparently male.
Nick: I still wait for the day we get an ALIEN lead. Let’s see the GFFA through the eyes of someone who isn’t human. That will impress.
David: And even the name, Cassian Andor, sounds slightly Hispanic (I know people are saying it sounds like a romance novel name—guess the very racist reason it does).
Nick: I hear Andor and I think of blue skinned members of the Federation.
Ben: Wrong franchise Nick.
Mike: I think it’s hugely important to see women in “wallpaper” roles when it’s a military movie—it affects whether viewers can envision woman soldiers as normal or the rare exception.
David: That’s a good point, Coop.
Mike: Like, someone could be gaga over Jyn but still see her as unusual—that needs to be fought.
Ben: That we see Jyn be listened to in the trailer – the ‘good’ ‘good’ bit is a bigger deal than you’d think. I’ve heard stories from female colleagues, in more senior positions than me, of how a meeting went in terms of not being given due respect that sounded terrible, so yeah, that’s more important than it appears.
Mike: Debatably, Life Debt has the same problem with Sloane.
David: I hadn’t thought of that because, well, I have my opinions of the military (don’t do it!).
Mike: Anywhere, really—military is just especially entrenched in terms of gender preconceptions.
David: I’d be happy with a diverse Rebellion and a monolithic Empire. I know Jay disagrees, but that’s what he gets for being too hung over to be in this chat.
Mike: Yes, in Jay’s absence let’s all agree that the Empire is the worst.
Ben: And it corrupts everyone – see Sloane.
Nick: The Empire is monolithic. Sure, it may have more gender diversity, but it is still basically a humans-only club, expect when non-humans prove handy.
Mike: I hear they don’t even like puppies.
Ben: They like them just fine…on a BBQ with a flamethrower.
David: So yeah, I’m not mad that the Empire in RO is all dudes. Now, the Rebellion…now that’s worrying.
Mike: I’d need to look more closely but I’d be surprised if any of the Imperial officers in that one bridge shot are even POC.
Nick: David- well, there may be more women that you think. After all, in the first trailer, it is a FEMALE Rebel trooper leading Jyn to Mon Mothma.
David: I didn’t know that!
Nick: Look closely at the first trailer!
David: That’s a hopeful sign.
Nick: A human female in the classic ANH Rebel Trooper uniform.
Mike: I may have caught that at the time, but I’d forgotten all about her.
Nick: Huh! You all need to rewatch.
David: Dammit he’s right. It’s a girl!
Nick: Exactly! You know why it is so freaking awesome? Because she blends in perfectly.
Ben: It may even dare to have female redshirts too.
David: I mean, if you looked at the TFA trailers, you couldn’t tell that the First Order had several female officers.
Mike: Honestly, I try not to dwell on this TOO much yet because trailers are emphatically not representative of the actual demography of the movie. It’s worth noting but I’m not going to condemn anything just yet.
David: I agree. It’s too early. They went out of their way to include an ethnically diverse cast, so the good will is there.
Mike: LFL, we’re watching you carefully.
Nick: I was complaining about lack of alien diversity in RO until they released that reel at Celebration Europe. Suddenly, there are new alien species, plus old school ones like the Mon Calamari. Mon Calamari, I’ll add, that DON’T look like Ackbar—different faces, different colors, different weights. THAT shows an attention to detail.
David: Someday the RotJ female pilots will be restored to their original glory.
Mike: So before we wrap up, any final thoughts or observations you want to get in?
Nick: Only that I’m dying to still know why it is titled Rogue One.
Mike: It’s gotta be either 1) Jyn 2) Galen or 3) the Death Star
David: And that we should see Bothans in the movie, just to mess with all the people that are snottily correcting their casual friends (me included).
Ben: One thing the trailer does is emphasize the significance of the Death Star in a way ANH couldn’t. Even in the space of seconds the thing oozes malice.
Mike: Except when it’s upside-down SMH
Ben: Even upside down the thing’s a bastard horror. Should give ANH a big boost in how it’s seen too.
David: You guys know my Rogue One theory, right? See. A long, long time ago, when the spinoffs were first announced, there was a rumor saying that the first two movies were going to be called “Red Five” and “Han Solo”.
Mike: Oh man, I forgot about Red Five.
David: And it’s never left my mind, that it was probably true. That “Red Five” became Rogue One, both of them Luke’s callsigns. So my original thought was “oh this is going to be the story of the pilot that Luke replaced at Yavin”. And, you know, I think that could still be true, only with Rogue Squadron. Maybe the Rogues are more…Wraith-like…this time, and Luke eventually takes Jyn’s place.
Ben: That’d work.
Mike: So then why Red Squadron in ANH?
David: Hey if it depended on me, Red, Blue et al would be circumstantial names. Not ONE RED SQUADRON IN ALL THE GALAXY.
Nick: Rogue Squadron is dead son, accept it.
Mike: They’re definitely functionally more like the Wraiths, but I’m not sold on them being Rogue Squadron as an official unit.
Ben: Would also be precedent for Wedge’s Phantoms later.
Nick: Wedge leads Red Squadron until he forms Phantom Squadron in Life Debt.
Mike: Yeah, Phantom could be deliberately something that follows up on RO and he gets into it in Empire’s End after the movie is out.
David: Rogue Squadron is still at Hoth, isn’t it, Nick?
Nick: Well, that is “Rogue Group”.
Mike: I mean, there could be something to that—hence Gold Group at Endor.
David: Okay, replace Squadron with Group: “I think that could still be true, only with Rogue Group”.
Mike: Someone say something profound to end on.
Ben: I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.
Mike: Theeeere you go.