Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, and because of that, there are a few Easter eggs and cameos that long-time fans should keep an eye out for.
[Warning: The following post contains spoilers for Rogue One.]
The most jarring cameo in the movie belongs to two of the most infamous Star Wars characters from A New Hope: Ponda Baba and Colonel Evazan. Those names might not stick out to the casual Star Wars fans, but diehards will recognize the characters as the two toughs that menace Luke while at the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tattooine. One even gloats about having a wanted death sentence on 12 systems! And if that doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a clip of the infamous characters in action.
In Rogue One, Ponda Baba and Evazan just so happen to bump into the film’s main characters, Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor on Jedha. Jedha is a planet that is referred to as the spiritual home of the Jedi; who were apparently destroyed (as far as the wider galaxy is concerned) in purges between Episode III and Episode IV.
Director Gareth Edwards has spoken previously about how he wanted to make the film feel as authentic to the original franchise as possible — even demanding that extras grow out their sideburns and mustaches to fit into the ‘70s aesthetic. Bringing in two beloved characters that aren’t as well known is the movie’s most glaring bit of fan service.
Speaking of characters that are well known, R2-D2 and C-3PO are back in action for Rogue One. The two droids appear pretty late in the movie, just before the Rebel ships are preparing to take off for the final battle. They don’t have much to do with the film’s overall story arc, just like Ponda Baba and Evazan, but it’s a little bit of familiarity within the movie.
C-3PO even complains about never knowing what’s going on, which is something he would definitely do in the original trilogy. While the inclusion of the two droids is nice to see, they’re the least surprising cameo. C-3PO and R2-D2 are the only characters that have been in every Star Wars movie ... so far. The big question now is whether they’ll be in any of the further Star Wars anthology films, that aren’t at all guaranteed to be so close to the main events of the series.
And speaking of Rebel troops, Rogue One features cameos from several high-ranking generals and operatives — not just Mon Mothma, as we’ve seen in trailers — General Jan Dodonna as well as several pilots from Red and Gold squadron reprise their appearances from Episode IV. Jimmy Smits also reprises his role as Senator Bail Organa, adoptive father of Princess Leia Organa, the secret daughter of Anakin Skywalker and, of course, one of the main characters of the original Star Wars trilogy. Leia herself appears in Rogue One’s final moments, marrying the end of the movie to precisely the moment that Episode IV begins.
But with light, comes darkness. We’ve known from Rogue One’s promotional material that Darth Vader would have a role to play, but the man at the end of his “leash,” as Leia puts it in Episode IV, is there as well. Governor (or Grand Moff, as he holds both titles) Tarkin is a major player in the movie, opposing the ambitions of his rival, Rogue One’s primary villain, Director Orson Krennic.
Aside from those major character appearances, there are a couple of cool moments., which feel like Edwards tipping his hat to Star Wars creator George Lucas. Reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO gets the infamous line, “I have a bad feeling about this” — though he gets cut off before he can finish — which has become a running gag in the Star Wars universe. It’s spoken twice in A New Hope, by Luke when the Millennium Falcon is approaching the Death Star and later Han Solo while he, Luke, Princess Leia and Chewbacca are stuck in the trash compactor.
Since then, the phrase has been used in every single feature length Star Wars film, and many other installments of television shows or even comics, including last year’s The Force Awakens. In fact, it’s Han Solo who utters it there, upon realizing that the Rathtars he’s transporting have been let loose from a secure area. Much like Edwards, director J.J. Abrams used The Force Awakens to pay homage to films of Star Wars past without making it seem entirely obvious.
Another example of this is the early, quick appearance of a pitcher of blue milk in Rogue One. Luke can be seen drinking blue milk in Episode IV, just to underscore to the audience that even this domestic dinner scene is otherworldly. The milk could be found on most planets in the galaxy, and “was well known for being very rich and refreshing, its opaque coloring suggesting that it was also sweet,” according to the Star Wars Wiki page. If you can’t remember what it looks like, here’s a quick reminder.
There are a bunch of other tributes in the film that exist outside of the Star Wars universe — including a blatantly obvious homage to Ridley Scott’s Alien. Fans of the sci-fi genre in general will be pleased with just how many nods Rogue One pays to some big films, but some are far more obvious than others. For example, Edwards confirmed there are little pieces of Godzilla and Monsters in Rogue One, two of the director’s most popular films.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be available to watch in theaters worldwide on Dec. 16.
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