As moviegoers wait for the Skywalker family saga to continue next year in Star Wars: Episode VIII, Lucasfilm is keeping their mega franchise alive and well in 2016. The first of their standalone anthology films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is hitting theaters this December. Set 34 years before The Force Awakens, it revolves around the group of Rebel Alliance fighters that stole the plans to the original Death Star – unknowingly allowing Luke Skywalker to become the hero he is today.
Since it is a Star Wars film, Rogue One is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. However, the project was hit with some controversy recently after news regarding its reshoots came out. While those closest to the production insist everything is proceeding as planned, the sheer amount of rumors and speculation have given some fans some cause for concern. The onus is on Lucasfilm to turn things around in the six months before the premiere, and the easiest way to do that is with a killer marketing campaign.
The Rogue One teaser trailer was unveiled back in April to a generally positive reception, but now the studio is getting ready for the next wave of promotional materials. As Star Wars Celebration 2016 draws closer, EW is planning a massive rollout of details on the spinoff. To get things started, they’ve released a magazine cover featuring characters Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and droid K-250 (Alan Tudyk). In addition, this marks the first official confirmation that famed villain Darth Vader will return to the big screen in Rogue One.
EW‘s coverage promises to be very extensive, revealing new information about the scrappy band of Rebels and the Imperial officers tasked with bringing them down. The teases that are currently available are certainly intriguing; Jyn has apparently “clashed with both the Rebellion and the Empire” and as previously reported, Mads Mikkelsen is playing her father. Not much is known about Mikkelsen’s character at this point in time, but he is a scientist who is sought out by both factions of the Galactic Civil War. Earlier rumors suggested he helped design the Death Star before leaving the Empire due to guilt over what he’s done, so he potentially could be one of the more fascinating characters in Star Wars lore.
Fans will also get to learn more about Jyn’s teammates, played by Luna, Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Weng, and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. EW cryptically says that “one of these has been seen before by Star Wars fans,” without elaborating further as to what they meant. When the Rogue One character names leaked a while back, none of them read as familiar, so this gives moviegoers yet another reason to read up on the outlet’s coverage throughout the week.
Of course, the biggest news here is that Darth Vader is coming back. It has long been rumored that the Sith Lord would be in Rogue One, but Lucasfilm never made any statement on the matter until now. His presence in the film will be a massive selling point, and it’s a safe bet Vader will be shown in the second Rogue One trailer. From the sound of it, he’s going to be dealing mostly with Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic, who is “eager to earn the favor of the Emperor.” Fans know how Vader treats those who fail him, so their dynamic should be a treat to watch.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.