ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at Creators.co
MP staff. I talk about superheroes a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it.
Eleanor Tremeer

Rogue One is really exciting for a number of reasons. Not only will it provide us with a Star Wars movie to watch as we escape the winter winds this Christmas season, #RogueOne will also fill in some blanks and explain how the Rebel Alliance acquired those all-important plans to the Death Star before A New Hope — which, if you're a giant nerd for Star Wars lore, is a very interesting prospect. And we're giant nerds.

We all know the deciding battles of the Galactic Civil War: There's the Battle of Yavin, in which the first Death Star was destroyed; the attack on Hoth, in which the Rebels lost an important base; and the victorious Battle of Endor, when the Rebellion finally triumphed over the Empire.

And there was much rejoicing on Endor. [Lucasfilm/Marvel]
And there was much rejoicing on Endor. [Lucasfilm/Marvel]

Now, it looks like another major battle was fought before Luke Skywalker joined the war — and if the new Rogue One trailer is anything to go by, this was a huge loss for the Rebellion.

The First Mission To Destroy The Death Star

The second international trailer for Rogue One was stuffed full of spoilers and hints, revealing new footage from some key moments in the movie. One of the most important scenes seems to be this epic space battle, in which the Rebel fleet attack an Imperial facility. We can see the X-Wing pilots fighting around a circular space station, which could be the construction site of the Death Star's main weapon — the laser-firing dish.

An epic space battle above Scarif. [Lucasfilm]
An epic space battle above Scarif. [Lucasfilm]

It's highly likely that this battle is part of the first attempt to destroy the Death Star — we can see the planet Scarif below, and there are several shots in the trailers of Jyn and her strike force fighting on the planet's surface. However, this plan goes horribly wrong, and the space battle at least is a crippling defeat for the Rebellion (and it's likely the fight on the planet's surface doesn't go much better... but we'll get to that later.)

How do we know the battle of Scarif is a defeat for the Rebellion? Well, if they really are trying to destroy the Death Star's laser dish, the fact that we clearly see the dish being installed later on is a dead giveaway. But there are more clues to be found in the brief glimpse we caught of the Rebel fleet.

The Rebel fleet in 'Rogue One'. [Lucasfilm]
The Rebel fleet in 'Rogue One'. [Lucasfilm]

Here's the super nerdy part: We can see at least three Nebulon-B frigates, and two Hammerhead corvettes. Thanks to Star Wars: Rebels, we know exactly how the Rebel Alliance acquired the Hammerhead corvettes. Three were stolen from the Empire in the Season 2 episode "A Princess on Lothal". Later, in the first episode of Rebels Season 3, one of the Hammerhead corvettes was attacked by Darth Maul (technically just Maul now), but it seemed to be salvaged by the Rebellion. However, by the time Rogue One rolls around, it looks like the Rebel Alliance are down to two Hammerhead corvettes.

Victory For The Empire

So much for before this battle occurred. We next see the Rebel fleet in its entirety at the end of Empire Strikes Back, and it's significantly decreased in size. The Hammerhead corvettes, in particular, are nowhere to be seen, and there's only one Nebulon-B frigate left — this is actually the ship upon which Luke recuperates after his battle with Darth Vader.

A New Hope didn't actually diminish the size of the Rebel fleet, because the attack on the Death Star was carried out mainly by the X-Wing squadrons while the fleet orbited Yavin. This leads us to believe that the Hammerhead corvettes were lost in Rogue One, along with two of the Nebulon-B frigates — although 18 months passed between Episodes 4 and 5 (and it's possible the ships were lost then), it looks like the attempted sabotage of the Death Star's laser dish is a major defeat for the Rebellion.

Basically, Rogue One will probably feature a disastrous space battle, setting up some high stakes for Jyn's mission to succeed. From what we've seen of the battle on the surface of Scarif, it seems that Jyn is retrieving the plans for the Death Star itself. But although we see her escaping with the plans, it's likely that the ground-level fight also costs the Rebellion a lot of soldiers. There's a lot of fatalistic language in the trailer, as Jyn tells Cassian Andor she's not used to people sticking around "when things go bad." We also see Jyn give a rousing speech to her strike team:

"We'll take the next chance, and the next, until we win or the chances are spent."

Jyn escapes with the Death Star plans... probably. [Lucasfilm]
Jyn escapes with the Death Star plans... probably. [Lucasfilm]

After this mission, in which the Rebellion failed to destroy the Death Star dish, but Jyn did retrieve the plans, Jyn will probably embark on her stealth mission — you know, the one where she dresses up as a TIE Fighter pilot in that awesome shot from the first trailer. Of course, Jyn's speech could also have been spurred on after Jedha gets blown up by the Death Star, which the international trailer also confirmed.

In any case, it's safe to say that things aren't so peachy for the Rebel Alliance in Rogue One, which means the original trilogy will be even more satisfying when we inevitably rewatch those movies right after Rogue One opens in cinemas. Because spoiler alert: The Rebels win in the end.

Tell us in the comments: Do you think this space battle will be a failure for the Rebellion?

Jyn and her team sneak inside the Death Star. [Lucasfilm]
Jyn and her team sneak inside the Death Star. [Lucasfilm]

[Hat tip to Mr Sunday Movies for pointing out the fleet in the international trailer]