On Friday, I was lucky enough to attend the annual Star Wars Celebration, this year being held in London. The event was fantastic, bringing together thousands of like-minded Star Wars nerds and showing off some of the greatest achievements the franchise had to offer. However, despite dozens of exhibitors, panels and special guests, it was clear to everyone present that the whole day was focused around one topic, the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Throughout the day, guests were given the opportunity to check out some of the new costumes and models used in the movie, some being seen for the first time ever. The exhibit featured:
Described as elite soldiers of the Imperial Intelligence Unit, Death Troopers also exist as bodyguards to the top dog in the Imperial military, Director Orson Krennic. Celebration gave us a full 360° view of the new armor as well as a chance to see them in action for the first time as they marched on stage during the Rogue One panel behind Ben Mendelsohn himself, in character as Director Krennic.
The brand new design for these aquatic-based Imperial soldiers was first leaked a year ago when a photo of the helmet was revealed online. Celebration marked the first appearance of the Shoretroopers in full, equipped with fancy new guns and a worn-down, retro look that really makes Rogue One feel like it's set in the same era as Episode IV: A New Hope.
Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe
Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe, played by Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen respectively, appear to be our new odd couple. Imwe is described as somewhat of a monk who believes in The Force but has no connection to it himself, similar to Lor San Tekka in The Force Awakens. On the flip side, Malbus is more of a pragmatist, believing a big gun is far more important than any kind of spirituality. However, despite their differences, both men share a strong friendship and are both determined to bring down the Empire one way or another.
Captain Cassian Andor And Jyn Erso
Our leading pair, Felicity Jones's Jyn Erso and Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, have had very little revealed about them as of yet. Erso has been described as a chaotic neutral who's willing to do anything to defeat the Empire once and for all. Andor, on the other hand, has a penchant for keeping to the rules and is ordered by the Rebellion to keep Erso in check. However, from the looks of things, it seems he may end up changing his mind about that very soon.
Bodhi Rook, played by Riz Ahmed, looks set to be one of the most interesting characters the Star Wars saga has yet seen. In a similar fashion to Finn in The Force Awakens, Bodhi starts off as an Imperial pilot fighting against the Rebellion. Though he doesn't agree with everything the Empire does, he respects that it's a powerful organization that appears to keep a healthy hold of the galaxy and has stopped it from falling apart. However, through a series of events that we're bound to see unfold in the movie, Bodhi finds himself somewhat reluctantly involved in Jyn Erso's mission to retrieve the Death Star plans.
The Death Star And Director Krennic's Shuttle
The Death Star itself will return in Rogue One in all its iconic, menacing glory. Brand new to the franchise is Director Orson Krennic's Delta-Class Imperial Shuttle. Krennic's ship appears to be the lovechild of Kylo Ren's personal shuttle from The Force Awakens and the Lambda-Class we're familiar with from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It's a very fancy design, with a sleek black hull that's sure to strike fear into the hearts of anyone that finds themselves on the wrong end of the Empire's wrath. Hopefully we'll be seeing more new shuttle designs in future Star Wars movies.
TIE Striker And AT-ACT
And finally, Celebration also gave us our first look the brand new TIE Striker and All Terrain Armored Cargo Transport. According to reports, the AT-ACT was in fact the walker seen in the first Rogue One trailer:
The predecessor to the AT-AT, made famous during the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, the AT-ACT is nearly identical, aside from its supposedly removable cargo chamber. Opposite is the TIE Striker, the latest addition to the ever growing TIE Fighter family. While unusual in its design, I have faith that it'll prove itself in battle when the movie hits theaters this December.
The real highlight of Friday's show, however, came in the form of the Rogue One panel. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to actually get in there to watch it, but was instead able to watch a stream from the Star Wars Show Live stage. The panel began with Captain Phasma herself, Gwendoline Christie, marching on stage and introducing the crowd to the first round of guests:
- John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer for Industrial Light and Magic
- Kiri Hart, Head of the Lucasfilm Story Group
- Gareth Edwards, Director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm
The guests went on to discuss their various roles in bringing Rogue One to life as well as personal stories from the set, such as Gareth Edwards's emotional meetings with Mark Hamill and George Lucas and an eventful encounter with the legendary James Earl Jones.
We were also treated to more information about the movie, including its origins as part of the cancelled live-action Star Wars TV series and the names of two new planets: Scarif, a beautiful tropical paradise filmed in the Maldives and Jedha, described by Edwards as a "Mecca for Jedi."
After some light discussion, Christie surprised the whole crowd by bringing on the entirety of the Rogue One cast, including:
- Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
- Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
- Alan Tudyk as K2-SO
- Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
- Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe
- Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
- Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
- Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
- Ben Mendelsohn as Director Orson Krennic
Mendelsohn initially appeared on stage fully in character as Krennic, followed by a squad of black-clad Death Troopers. He later returned to sit with the cast and was the first to introduce the fantastic "sizzle reel" of the movie to the audience:
The panel was an absolute treat. Every actor got a chance to talk (and in some cases talk a little too much.) Ben Mendelsohn relived the story of shouting at the director's assistant in full character, Alan Tudyk revealed his encounter with C-3PO himself a.k.a. Anthony Daniels and Jiang Wen revealed a little too much information regarding his and Donnie Yen's characters. While the crowd and the crew weren't all that happy about the lapse of security, Wen's adorable description of himself, "I have a big gun," kept him in the audience's good graces.
Gareth Edwards also used the event to reveal the brand new Rogue One poster, depicting the opposing forces in the Galactic Civil War duking it out on Scarif while the Death Star looms ominously above. It's a truly fantastic image and anyone lucky enough to be in the room received a free poster upon leaving.
But that's not all. For those sat within the hall, a brand new trailer for Rogue One was revealed. While I didn't get to see it from the stream just outside, I managed to find a guest who had later on, who described it to me in a single word:
And if that's not enough to get you excited then I don't know what will.
At the time of writing, the Rogue One panel has yet to be uploaded to YouTube, likely due to the huge spoiler drop. So instead, check out this interview with the Lucasfilm Story Group. It's a good one, trust me.
Were you at Celebration? What did you think of the Rogue One panel?