6:06 pm EDT, July 15, 2016

Star Wars Celebration: 6 cool things we learned about ‘Rogue One’

Star Wars Celebration always provides a wealth of information for fans eager to learn more about the galactic franchise. The Rogue One panel this year was no exception!

I likely wasn’t the only fan in the audience momentarily confused when the Rogue One panel opened with the opening crawl from A New Hope. Technical mishaps aren’t uncommon at conventions — the sizzle reel suffered from one later in the panel — and A New Hope was due to be screened later in the day.

But then the crawl glitched, the music segueing from the iconic main title to the blaring alarm from the Rogue One teaser trailer, before revealing the logo. I’ll admit, I got chills.

That wasn’t the only surprise. Contrary to the announced panel details, Gwendolyn Christie (Captain Phasma) made her way out onto the stage to moderate. Her enthusiasm only served to heighten the already electric and anticipating audience. Not only that, but she was later joined by the main cast of Rogue One.

Here’s what we learned about Rogue One from the cast and crew in attendance at the panel.

Intergalactic planetary

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We’ll be heading to two new planets during Rogue One.

The first is Scarif, the paradise-esque location featured heavily in both the sizzle reel and the gorgeous poster they revealed at the panel. No, the water isn’t CGI or manipulated in any way — it really is that blue. Gareth Edwards told tales of the Maldives, where they shot the scenes on Scarif. In fact, we learned that the Maldivan army were inside the stormtrooper armor, though they may not have been as enthused about the experience as Edwards may have hoped. Turns out they had no idea what Star Wars was — and we can only imagine what they thought about the entire experience.

The second location is Jehda, and we got several details about the planet that expanded the Star Wars universe that little bit more. As it happens, Jehda is the destination for several believers in the Force, and they often make pilgrimages there. Though, that seems to be easier said than done, as we also learned that Jedha is under Imperial occupation.

Multiple members of the main cast make their home on Jehda too, but more on that in just a moment.

It takes two…

rogue one diego luna

We already learned a little about Diego Luna’s character, Cassian, an intelligence officer in the rebellion. What we didn’t know, however, is that he and Jyn will be a twosome before joining up with the rest of their rag-tag group over the course of the film. That little Death Star mission? May have been his idea.

Drop it like it’s hot

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K-2SO, a droid belonging to Cassian, also received some attention — and it was revealed that K2 is a reprogrammed Imperial droid. Clearly that’s going to end well for everyone involved. The consequence of K2’s reprogramming seems to be that his higher functions have been tossed aside. This was evident in the sequence we were privy to, in which Jyn gives K2 a bag to hold, and K2 drops it — which was timed to perfection and was hilarious, especially the lingering look he gives Jyn before dropping her belongings.

That Bodhi’s well

Remember Jedha? This is Bodhi’s (Riz Ahmed) home planet. Think it’s a little too convenient that so many of our heroic main characters are together on one planet? Well, Bodhi is an Imperial pilot — though a somewhat reluctant one following the occupation of the planet. Said Ahmed of his character, “People work at big organizations. They don’t agree with everything they do.”

(The camera pan to Kathleen Kennedy on the panel screens was a nice touch after that declaration.)

He rebels

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As we already know, Forrest Whitaker is playing Saw Gerrera — a more extreme version of the rebels we’ve come to love. The hints we’ve received of Gerrera following his stint in Clone Wars are confirmed here. “He’s been controlling a group of rebels that are out to the extreme. There is a series of rebel groups coming together as an alliance. I’m leading my group, which will be [by] any means necessary [to] do anything to save the world,” Whitaker informed the rapt audience.

We think that sounds a little ominious. Just how far will Gerrera go during Rogue One? Will Gerrera provide an interesting foil to the Empire — and show just what extremism looks like in the Rebel Alliance, a group we’ve come to associate with doing the “right” thing, no matter what?

Daddy cool

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Yes, that’s right. We’ll be seeing Jyn’s father during this movie, Galen Erso, as played by Mads Mikkelsen. We learned in his character profile that he was a gifted scientist, but there’s a real consequence to that. “He’s invented something so beautiful, so fantastic, it might change the universe,” Mikkelsen said.

Whatever the technology is, it’s unlikely that it’s being used for its intended purpose.

Star Wars Celebration exclusive ‘Rogue One’ trailer

Of course, it wouldn’t be Celebration without some kind of exclusive Rogue One trailer, and Kennedy certainly delivered with a trailer that was for the eyes of the audience in attendance only. There was a very strong hint that this trailer would not be making its way online any time soon.

It moved quicker than I’d have liked, and I’d love to have it on hand to play on repeat, but we’ve got a quick overview of it for you.

The trailer opened on a young Jyn Erso running from an Imperial shuttle. It cut to the Jyn we already know doing likewise. There are several combat moments from them — explosions and rebels being marched through Jedha. If there was any doubt that Rogue One is going to be a war film, this trailer puts that to bed.

Over the footage, Jyn says, “Every day we get weaker and they get stronger. This is our chance to make a difference.” Maybe Jyn isn’t as much of a bad girl as we all assumed, and is soft on the inside.

There was also a glimpse and an unfamiliar alien, shouting at some soldiers. There was also a little more Krennic — him walking, but also possibly kneeling before the Emperor. The trailer closed with a reflection of Vader on the console, and his iconic breathing.

Did you catch the panel livestream? Share your favorite moments below!

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