Even though we just got a brand new Star Wars movie for the first time in a decade last year with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the wait leading up to Star Wars: Rogue One was a long one for many fans. Fear not, because the long wait is finally over! After months of countless trailers, rumors and reshoots, the first ever standalone movie taking place in the Star Wars universe is finally here. Even though the movie does stand on its own, and isn't completely void of flaws, it is absolutely jam packed with fun references, easter eggs and throwbacks to all kinds of stuff from every corner of the Star Wars galaxy far, far away.
Disney purchased all of Lucasfilm from George Lucas back in 2012 for more than $4 billion and in that time, we have now seen two new live-action Star Wars movies, with many more sure to come. The sample size may be small, but it is very clear that these new movies are going to do their best to stand on their own two feet, but they are also going to honor what came before. So far, this has been done through references, Star Wars cameos and a whole bunch of Easter eggs. Some of them are right on the surface and other ones only the most hardcore Star Wars fans will pick up on, but they are plentiful.
J.J. Abrams wasn't shy at all about paying homages to the other great Star Wars movies that came before when he directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Though there were a ton of hidden Easter eggs in the movie, it is pretty clear that the movie borrowed a lot from Star Wars: A New Hope in terms of character and plot structure. In a lot of ways, it could be argued that the movie was almost a remake that managed to remain part of the established continuity. Star Wars: Rogue One is very different in that it is very much its own, new story. But it is still heavily tied and rooted to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, for those who may not know, is a prequel movie that takes place in the time between the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope and tells the story of how the Rebels got their hands on the plans for the Empire's planet-destroying weapon, the Death Star. This is something that was originally teased in the opening crawl of the original Star Wars back in 1977, so it is heavily tied to the events of that movie, but is a story not told previously in the Star Wars universe.
Given that the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directly affect what we saw take place in Star Wars: A New Hope, there was a lot of opportunity for the creative team to make little connections that fans of the franchise will appreciate. There are a ton of Easter eggs and references in this first Star Wars standalone movie. Some you probably caught and some you might not have, but here are the most significant ones. Fair warning, this article will contain spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, you may want to wait on this.
The Rebel Scope Tower
When our heroes Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor leave Yavin IV for Jedha, we see a familiar site. The Scope tower, where one lone rebel soldier is stationed, always on the look out for any unmarked or unrecognizable ships. The white-helmeted security guard stands at attention at all times obviously, and he hasn't moved much since we last saw him in A New Hope, as Luke, Han, Leia and the rest of the Millennium Falcon crew first arrived on Massassi Base. The shot we see in Rogue One is almost identical to the shot in the 1977 original were the X-wings take off to fight against the Death Star.
Blue Bantha Milk in the Erso home
This little Easter egg shows up quite early in Star Wars: Rogue One and is one of those "blink and you'll miss it" kind of things. But those attune Star Wars fans who noticed the blue milk in the opening sequence of the movie likely got a kick out of it. Blue milk is another thing that has its origins in Star Wars: A New Hope. We see Luke Skywalker drinking some at the dinner table with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine. In Rogue One, we see some of it on the counter when the young version of Jyn Erso was gathering her things in order to make her way to safety when Orson Krennic was coming to recruit her father Galen Erso to help with the construction of the Death Star. As for what blue milk is exactly? Well, according to Wookiepedia, it actually comes from Banthas, but that hasn't been confirmed in the new Star Wars canon at any point.
The Journal of the Whills
This gets into some serious, deep-cut Star Wars nerd stuff right here, but there is an Easter egg in Star Wars: Rogue One that dates back to the earliest days of the Star Wars universe when the whole thing was still just a script by George Lucas. In an early draft of Star Wars: A New Hope, there was an idea for an ancient book called The Journal of the Whills, Part I. This was eventually scrapped, but it is something that has occasionally showed up in the Star Wars expanded universe and has now been officially made a part of the new canon.
In the movie, Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus are casually referred to as part of a Force-believing group called the "Guardian of the Whills." This marks the first time the Whills have ever been mentioned in a Star Wars movie. It was said in the novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith that Qui-Gon Gin learned how to become a Force ghost from the "Shaman of the Whills," but we still don't really know who or what the Whills are. Perhaps now that it has been mentioned it will be explored further in a movie later on.
Saw Gerrera serves as an Apocalypse Now callback
Forest Whittaker's Saw Gerrera is a direct callback to Marlon Brando's deadly Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's surreal 1979 Vietnam War classic, Apocalypse Now. Saw is presented as a mysterious figure with the same type of leadership qualities. Mysterious yet powerful. And he has his own little cult that bends to his will. Apocalypse Now and A New Hope are inexplicably tied together. George Lucas helped his pal Francise Ford Coppola make the movie. And it was actually supposed to be Lucas' next project after American Graffiti. George wanted to make the war epic a simple low-budget, black and white pseudo-documentary alongside Coppola. But the pair couldn't get funding. So Lucas decided instead to develop Star Wars while Coppola went out and made Apocalypse Now, which is considered one of the all-time great war movies. Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has said he pulled inspiration directly from the Coppola film in making Rogue One.
The requisite THX-1138 callback
George Lucas' directorial debut was THX-1138, and it has been referenced in every Star Wars movie going all the way back to the 1977 original, with the detention block 1138 the destination for Chewbacca as Luke and Han cart the wookie away in disguise. The THX-1138 Easter egg might be a little harder to find in Rogue One. As Jyn and Cassian make it to the top secret data facility holding the Death Star plans, Cassian must manually extract the data tape housing the Death Star schematics. Doing this, he uses a pair of clamps that are almost identical to clamps used by the hero in George Lucas's debut feature film.
During the early stages of the marketing for Star Wars: Rogue One there was a shot of one of the Death Troopers holding a Stormtrooper doll. This made it into the final cut of the movie, which we see in the beginning as Jyn Erso drops it when she is running to safety from Orson Krennic and his squad of Death Troopers, who have come to recruit Galen Erso against his will. This is most definitely an indication of just how big the Empire's stranglehold is on the galaxy, since a Stormtrooper toy would be something a kid would own.
HAVW A6 Juggernaut
During one of the earlier sequences in the movie, Jyn Erso is being held captive by the Empire and at one point, she is being transported by a massive Imperial tank of some sort. The vehicle is known as an HAVW A6 Juggernaut and actually first showed up in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith as a form of Stormtrooper transport. In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we see that there is something of a "waste not, what not" attitude, as the Empire has repurposed these vehicles for prisoner transport, and it also serves as a little nod to the prequels and The Clone Wars.
Twi'lek Dancer & Dejarik
At one point in Star Wars: Rogue One Saw Gerrera's band of extremists captures Jyn, Cassian, Chirrut and Baze, who are taken to his hideout. When they are being taken to their cells, we can see what Saw's gang in their free time, which includes watching holograms of Twi'lek dancers and playing Dejarik. The former is something fans will recognize from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, as it was something Jabba the Hutt was quite fond of doing as well. The latter comes from Star Wars: A New Hope and it was the same came that Chewbacca was playing with C-3PO on the Millennium Falcon.
Stormtroopers discuss the T-15
Remember when Obi-Wan Kenobi is trying to shut down the tractor beam while Han, Luke and Chewbacca rescue the princess? We see two Stormtoopers discussing the BT-16, which has modified ion engines. That scene gets a direct callback in Rogue One, but this time the two troopers are taking about the T-15. This particular airspeed must get updates faster than the Apple phone, cause this scene takes place roughly a week, maybe a week and a half before the events seen on the Death Star in A New Hope. Though, some speculate that the Troopers are not talking about the discontinuation of the T-15 as an airspeeder. But instead, they are referencing the T-15 hyperdrive generator, a piece of equipment first mentioned in a video game tie-in to Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
The Death Star Plans
Remember that funky 3D vector graphic of the Death Star that only exists in A New Hope because it was the best VFX money could buy at the time? Well, it makes a full comeback here, 70s vibe be damned. The recreation of this graphic is pretty flawless and spot on, comparable to when we first see it in the pre-strike briefing on the Death Star in a New Hope at Massassi. Director Gareth Edwards even keeps the infamous visual error with the circular depression that fires the laser placed on the structure's equator, instead of its northern hemisphere.
This is something you probably would have been looking for in order to catch it on a first watch of Star Wars: Rogue One, but it is a nice little nod to the original Star Wars. During the opening scene, we can see some moisture evaporators behind Galen Erso on his farm, which implies he is probably a moisture farmer, or at least posing as one since he is actually a brilliant scientist. In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker was a helping hand for his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, who operated a moisture farm on Tatooine.
One of the most critical scenes in all of Star Wars history is the first test of the Death Star's full destructive capabilities in Star Wars: A New Hope when Grand Moff Tarkin orders the destruction of Leia's home planet Alderaan. In Star Wars: Rogue One, there are several references to the legendary planet. At one point, Bail Organa mentions that he will be returning to Alderaan, which sadly means he was on the planet when it was destroyed by the Death Star. Also, during the first interaction between Grand Moff Tarkin and Director Krennic, Tarkin suggests that a test of the battle station is required, which is a direct reference to A New Hope when he decides to destroy Alderaan.
During the third act of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jyn and Cassian are trying to find the Death Star plans in the Imperial archives. While listing off some of the file names, it is discovered that one of them is called "Black Saber." This could be a reference to the Darksaber, which first appeared on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. The weapon is an ancient, black-bladed lightsaber that was used by Pre Vizsla and later by Darth Maul. Assuming this is actually referencing the powerful ancient weapon, that means it is officially part of the new Star Wars canon, which is significant.
Star Wars Rebels Crossover
The Star Wars expanded universe has largely been its own thing and the Star Wars movies have mostly ignored what goes on in the comics, books and TV shows. That is no longer the case. Not only did Star Wars: Rogue One bring in a character like Saw Gerrera from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but there were a few references to Star Wars Rebels as well.
For one, during the final battle scene that takes place above Scariff with the Rebel fleet, the Ghost, the ship from the show, can be seen in a very quick shot that pretty much needs to be freeze-framed in order to catch it, but it is most definitely there. Also, during a scene in the Yavin 4 base, a page is made for a "General Syndulla." In Star Wars Rebels, Hera Syndulla is the Captain of the Ghost, so it seems very likely that this was a direct reference to her character. In another very brief moment, it appears that the Ghost crew's droid Chopper seems to makes a quick appearance when a Rebel communications officer runs to tell Mon Mothma about the battle taking place on Scariff. So fans of the Star Wars Rebels series can take some pride in knowing that the live-action side of things has acknowledged the characters from that series.
Here's another cool Star Wars Rebels nod that has been discovered by fans. The Hammerhead Cruisers make a great appearance during the Battle of Scarif, as they smash into a Star Destroyer, managing to push it into another one of the massive vessels. These Hammerheads first showed up on an episode of Star Wars Rebels, with this being their first-ever live action appearance. It's not a big thing, but it's pretty cool. Now, lets move onto some of the harder to spot actor cameos.
Darth Vader's Castle on Mustafar
There is almost no question that the coolest thing about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was getting to see Darth Vader on screen again. The fact that James Earl Jones returned to voice him made it all that much better. When we first meet the famed Sith Lord in Rogue One, he is at his castle on the planet Mustafar, which is something that hardcore Star Wars fans definitely would have made note of.
When Director Krennic goes to visit Darth Vader, we finally see his secret castle, something that was originally conceived as a plot point in The Empire Strikes Back but was scrapped along the way. In the new canon, this castle of Darth Vader's exists on the planet where Obi-Wan left Anakin Skywalker for dead. So not only does it serve as something of a call back to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, but it also revives an idea that almost made it into what many consider to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever made.
Darth Vader's Bacta Tank Bath
Inside Darth Vader's castle, we see that he has his own personal Bacta Tank for his rejuvenating baths. This is believed to be where Darth gets his energy from at the end of Rogue One when he takes out a squadron of Rebels single handedly with his lightsaber. This murder show is believed to have drained him, though. And that's why he's a little slower when we catch up with him in A New Hope. The big cylindrical structure was first seen in The Empire Strikes Back, after Luke had his run in with the Wampa. It produces a generative substance that helps grow tissue, but as we see, 19 years later, it hasn't really helped Darth grow his missing limbs back.
Lor San Tekka
In Star Wars: Rogue One the Whills, an ancient group of powerful beings with roots deeply connected to the origins of the Jedi, are mentioned by name. That makes them part of the canon now, but it also means that the movie has a connection with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the beginning of Episode VII, we first meet Lor San Tekka (played by Max Von Sydow) who is a longtime ally of the Rebellion. It turns out he is actually a member of Church of the Force and has ties to the Journal of the Whills.
Captain Antilles is an important dude. And in a different movie, he could have been the lead. He's held down a healthy life in the ancillary canon, appearing in a number of novels. Reymus Antilles is a big part of the Star Wars myth, though he only had a few precious moments of screen time in A New Hope. He is Darth Vader's first on-screen kill in the 1977 original, though we admit, he got off easy considering some of the cruel actions Vader takes at the end of Rogue One. Antilles is the captain of the Tantive IV, and gets strangled by Darth when he refuses to give up the plans to the Death Star, claiming his ship has intercepted no transmissions. He was previously seen at the end of Revenge of the Sith, where he takes temporary ownership of C-3PO and R2-D2. Though not a key player in Rogue One, he gets two crucial scenes. The first when Bail Organa leaves Yavin IV for Alderann. Bail commands the captain to 'get ready'. We see Reymus again at the end of the movie, when his crew of Rebels have escaped the wrath of Darth Vader, and he's able too give Vader's daughter, Princess Leia, the Death Star plans.
The next big batch of cameos are all part of the Rebel raid on Scarif that happens during the third act of the movie. And perhaps the return of Wedge Antilles is most interesting. While this hasn't really been explored in the current Star Wars canon, it is believed that Antilles is a name that is as common as Smith or Jones, and that Wedge and Raymus Antilles are not related. We get no further evidence of them being family here. Where this cameo is a little different, the actor that actually appeared in the flesh as Wedge is not in the movie. Instead we hear David Ankrum, who voiced Wedge in A New Hope. Dennis Lawson played Wedge in the 1977 original. But his voice was dubbed over, because he couldn't perfect his American accent in time for the shoot. Ankrum was brought into the sound mix, because they didn't want Wedge sounding British. While Ankrum is not credited for his work here, there are reports that he returned to record voice overs as Rogue Two, aka Wedge. Though Dennis Lawson didn't return alongside the other classic actors in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to reprise his role as a much older Wedge, the character lives on in Rogue One. And it's possible that he'll pop up again at some point.
Donnie Yen's Force practicing, blind warrior Chirrut Imwe was quite fond of using his walking stick to beat up on Stormtroopers in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He did actually have another weapon that he used a couple of times in the form of what appears to be a Bowcaster. Though it is not the exact same design, it is definitely similar to the Bowcaster that Chewbacca uses, which has been shown to be quite powerful on screen. Similarly, Chirrut's Bowcaster was able to take down a Tie Fighter.
During the third act of Star Wars: Rogue One we get to see all of the Rebellion leaders gathering to decide whether or not to go after the Death Star plans on Scariff. One such leader we get to meet is Admiral Raddus, a new Mon Calamari who is actually based on Winston Churchill. More importantly to Star Wars fans is that this is clearly meant to be a tip of the cap to Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, who was most famous for saying the line "It's a trap!" Admiral Raddus even takes a very similar role to his Mon Calamari counterpart during the aerial battle above Scariff, like Ackbar did during the assault on the second Death Star.
Stolen Imperial Uniforms
A crucial moment in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes when the Rebel crew has to steal some Imperial uniforms so that they can disguise themselves and sneak into the archive vault. This is very likely a nod to Star Wars: A New Hope. When the Millennium Falcon is brought aboard the Death Star, Han Solo and Chewie do something very similar when the Stormtroopers board the ship. This Allows Han and Luke to get a hold of some Stormtrooper costumes so that they can break into the prison block and rescue Princess Leia.
Massassi Base on Yavin IV
We are first introduced to the Rebellion in Star Wars: A New Hope and their base of operations on Yavin IV was an extremely significant location. Since the Rebels are the main focus of Star Wars: Rogue One and the events of A New Hope take place shortly after, the filmmakers decided to make the Massassi base a fixture in this spinoff. There was a painstaking amount of detail included in the recreated Yavin base and it was clearly modeled to be an exact replica of the original. Director Gareth Edwards did a really nice job of peppering in nice, mirrored shots that fans of Star Wars: A New Hope should really appreciate while watching Rouge One: A Star Wars Story.
Death Star firing sequence
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first ever standalone movie set in the Star Wars universe, but it does rely quite heavily on one of the biggest threats in a galaxy far, far away; the Death Star. The planet-destroying mega-weapon built by the Empire has been a major (or at least minor) factor in most Star Wars movies made so far. It was first introduced in Star Wars: A New Hope and one of the most memorable bits of the movie is the classic firing sequence, which was shown a couple of times in the movie. Once when Grand Moff Tarkin ordered the destruction of Alderaan and once again when they were getting ready to fire on Yavin 4.
That classic firing sequence was once again used in Star Wars: Rogue One. Not quite beat-for-beat, but it is a very familiar event when it happens. Perhaps the most faithful moment is the firing chamber itself, which looks as though it was ripped directly from A New Hope. Since the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story depict the very first ever demonstrations of the Death Star's power, it is appropriate that the firing sequence is similar to what we saw in the original Star Wars. Added note, it is actually Star Wars 8 director Rian Johnson playing one of the operators.
Director Rian Johnson
Next we come to Rian Johnson. He is directing Star Wars 8, and was around for some of this shoot. He's a mega-fan of Star Wars, so he jumped at the chance to appear on screen, though he doesn't necessarily consider himself an actor. Johnson plays one of the laser operators on the Death Star alongside producer Ram Bergman, and they are seen shielding their faces from one of the space station's deadly blasts. To repay the favor, Rian has already given Rogue One director Gareth Edwards a juicy little cameo in Star Wars 8, though it won't be revealed until the movie opens next December. Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller almost made it into the movie, too, with scenes that were meant to be part of the Jedha sequence. Alas, they both had to skip out as they went looking for schools for their kids to attend during their Han Solo shoot, which is confirmed for a February 2017 start date.
Warwick Davis got his star in the Star Wars universe a long time ago on a forest moon far, far away as the Ewok Wicket. He has since gone on to appear in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Force Awakens as different alien creatures. The tradition has continued for Warwick Davis in Star Wars: Rogue One, as he played a member of Saw Gererra's gang named Weeteef Cyubee. He can be seen during the assault on the Kyber Crystal shipment on Jedha and briefly in Saw's hideout.
This particular cameo has no link to previous movies or Star Wars lore. It's just a cool cameo for the Rizzle Kicks singer. Jordan Stephens is one of the Rebel soldiers on Scarif who tries to aid Bodhi Rook in his quest to get the Death Star transmissions to the Rebels locked out of the planet and hovering above them. So far, no production information has been released on how Jordan Stephens wound up in the movie, or what his connection to one of the actors or crew might be. Other notable names appearing in Rogue One not immediately associated with the franchise history is Horrible Histories and Yonderland actor Simon Farnaby, playing Blue Five, who bites it during flight as part of the Alliance's third X-Wing squadron.
The Empty Chair
This one technically isn't an Easter egg that appears in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Rather, it adds an Easter egg to Star Wars: A New Hope, which is at least as cool, if not more so. During the scene in the Death Star conference room with the various Imperial officers, there is an empty chair that can be seen, indicating someone is missing. After seeing Star Wars: Rogue One, it is inescapably clear that chair was meant to belong to Orson Krennic, but since he died on Scariff, his seat is left vacant. This definitely adds a very interesting, nuanced layer to an already awesome and classic scene in Star Wars history.
The Wilhelm Scream is a Hollywood classic and has been used in more than 225 TV shows and movies. It has shown up in each and every Star Wars movie so far and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is no different. Listen closely and you'll hear it on your next viewing, if you didn't catch it the first time.
Old Imperial Code
When Jyn Erso and her band of Rebels first get to the planet Scariff on their stolen Imperial ship, they need to find a way to get through the opening. Bodhi Rook gives the shield crew an old Imperial code which generates a moment of tension when they are waiting to see if it works or not, but it ultimately pays off. This little bit of Star Wars: Rogue One is a reference to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi when Han Solo did the same thing in order to get their stolen Imperial shuttle to the surface of the forest moon of Endor.
"Never Tell Me the Odds!"
The line "never tell me the odds" was famously uttered by Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back when C-3PO mentions that the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are 3,720 to 1. C-3PO was known for sharing such statistics and Alan Tudyk's K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is no different. During the scene when Jyn Erso smuggles a blaster onboard Cassian Andor's ship, K-2SO decided to inform him that the odds of her using it against them are very high. Though he never actually says the famous line, this exchange is very clearly a nod to that scene.
"I Have a Bad Feeling About This"
There is a long history in Star Wars movies of characters sensing that things are going to get bad before they get bad. How do they let us know? Well, by uttering the famed line "I have a bad feeling about this." It has been said by Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and even a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels. So it only makes sense that director Gareth Edwards would have the line show up in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story somewhere. This time around it was the snarky, reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO who had the honor of saying the line. This is something of a staple in Star Wars movies at this point, so it was a nice little easter egg to see it continue and not feel overly forced. Only here, Cassian cuts K-2SO off before he can get the full line out of his computerized vox.
Kyber Crystals power the Death Star
For something that has never shown up in a Star Wars movie before, Kyber Crystals are really important to the universe. They have shown up in the new canon novels and even in the Disney XD show Star Wars Rebels, but Star Wars: Rogue One finally brought them to the big screen and cemented their importance. It turns out that they have been incredibly important from the start, we just didn't know it.
Kyber Crystals are rare but naturally occurring crystals that Jedi use to power their lightsabers, which is explained fairly early on in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when Jyn Erso meets Donnie Yen's character Chirrut Imwe. They meet on the planet Jedha, a holy land for the Jedi in the Star Wars universe which has now been turned into a mining camp for the Empire, as they are extracting all of the Kyber Crystals from the planet so they can be used to power the Death Star. Without them, the weapon wouldn't work. So for hardcore Star Wars fans who love the expanded universe, this was a very cool addition to the live-action side of things.
"He doesn't like you!"
There are a ton of references and nods to Star Wars: A New Hope all over the place in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. One that more casual Star Wars fans may have missed is the appearance of Dr. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba, better known as the duo who get caught up with Obi-Wan at the Mos Eisley Cantina. The pair gets into it with Luke Skywalker and before things get too ugly, Obi-Wan Kenobi cuts off Pondu Baba's arm. But not before Evazan gets off his famous line, 'He doesn't like you! I don't like you either.' In Rogue One, the pair show up in the marketplace on the planet Jedha, where Jyn Erso bumps into them. Cornelius Evazan has a quick word with her, offering up his signature catch phrase. The pair apparently made it out of Jedha before the city was destroyed by the Death Star, but Pondu Baba's luck runs out not long after. This is definitely a fun nod to the original Star Wars.
Gold and Red Leader return for the Raid on Scarif
During the final, massive battle sequence in Star Wars: Rogue One, a couple of groups of Rebel fighters are forced to assault a shield generator that is guarding the Imperial base on the planet Scariff. During the impressive aerial battle, some familiar faces can be seen in the form of Red Leader and Gold Leader, who both assaulted the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. What's more is that director Gareth Edwards managed to capture the likeness of original actors Drewe Henley and Angus MacInnes.
The two can be seen during the battle at various points leading both Red and Gold Squadron respectively and it is a great little Easter egg for hardcore fans of the Star Wars franchise. Both Red and Gold leader play a very significant role in destroying the first Death Star and the fact that they were both directly responsible for helping to obtain the plans for the battle station makes the whole thing a little more significant. The battle sequence also features Blue Squadron, which is a reference to the original screenplay for Star Wars: A New Hope. In the script, the group that assaults the Death Star was called Blue Squadron, but George Lucas changed it at some point.
Original Red 5
That brings us to Red 5. In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker has taken on the call sign of Red 5. And we see here why that position is open, answering one of the many lingering questions fans have had over the years. Namely who was Red 5 before Luke? And what happened to 'that guy'? The unlucky SOB. The original Red 5 gets gunned down in Rogue One during the battle of Scarif. What isn't answered is where did they find that spare X-Wing fighter for Luke when he arrived with Han, Chewbacca, Leia and the droids on Yavin IV.
For years, there were no new Star Wars movies for fans to look forward to, so they were forced to look to the expanded universe. The Thrawn Trilogy of novels is still one of the most beloved things to ever come out of the expanded Star Wars universe, primarily because Grand Admiral Thrawn remains one of the best Star Wars villains. Period. Luckily, the character is currently being featured in Star Wars Rebels, making him an official part of the new Star Wars canon. Fans might have noticed that his uniform looks very similar to Director Orson Krennic's uniform. Admiral Wullf Yularen, who appears in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, also wore a very similar uniform in Star Wars: A New Hope. It isn't clear if Disney and Lucasfilm have any plans of bringing Thrawn to the live-action side of things at any point, but this uniform similarity is enough to make fans hope.
RA-7 is another character that was first named by Kenner as part of their second wave of Kenner action figures. At the time he was called the Death Star Droid. Now he has a different name, given to him much later on in the series run. RA-7 is instantly recognizable, though the guy has never gotten much screen time. He has bug-like eyes and a silver body that is very reminiscent of C-3PO. He is the first droid seen in the Sandcrawler that absconds with R2-D2, and serves as background set dressing when C-3PO and R2-D2 have their big reunion in the desert after being separated for a few hours. The droid actually appears twice in Rogue One. The shiny metal humanoid is first seen walking past Jyn and Cassian on Jedha. And another version of the droid is later seen on Scarif. In the movies, this droid has never actually been seen on the Death Star, in either a New Hope or Return of the Jedi.
Another iconic droid that pops up in Rogue One is the mouse droid, who is actually seen on the Death Star. This little guy gets a big roar from Chewbacca in the original movie, turning tail in one of that film's cuter sequences. Here in Rogue One, he's just part of the background chatter, and easy to miss. This time out, we see the mouse droids squeaking around the Stormtroopers on Scarif.
Imperial Probe Droid
In the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back Han Solo and Chewie are sent out to investigate a signal and discover an Imperial Probe Droid, which ultimately leads to the famous Hoth battle we all know and love. It is a very quick shot, but during the sequence on Jedha in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, an Imperial Probe Droid can be seen in the background, serving as a call back to Episode V.
Cassian Andor is a member of the Rebellion who has been in the fight for a long time and has done some pretty ugly stuff in order to serve the cause. He also happens to look a bit like what some might call a scruffy looking nerf herder. Part of that has to do with the fact that his jacket in Star Wars: Rogue One is very similar to the one that Han solo wears.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is the Jedi in hiding
No, Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't actually appear in Star Wars: Rogue One, so don't feel like you missed out on something big in the background or something like that. However, Bail Organa does reference the famed Jedi. Once it is made clear that the Rebels may actually have a chance of destroying the Death Star, Bail Organa takes action and does what he can in order to help the situation. One of these things involves calling on an old friend who "served him well" during the Clone Wars. He may not have said the name, but it is inescapably clear that he was talking about Obi-Wan Kenobi. That also ties in nicely to the original message that Luke Skywalker gets hold of from R2-D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope, in which Leia says "help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
Grand Moff Tarkin
For the lesser Star Wars fan the appearance of Grand Moff Tarkin (using groundbreaking CGI from Industrial Light and Magic) in Star Wars: Rogue One could be written off as an Easter egg. With that having been said, to the more hardcore fan, Grand Moff Tarkin is much more than a reference. He is essential and needed to be in this movie. Unfortunately Peter Cushing is no longer with us and couldn't reprise his role, but his presence in the movie is downright necessary.
In Star Wars: A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin is the highest ranking Imperial officer who is in charge of the Death Star, even above Darth Vader. In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story his character is explored more deeply and it really serves as a way of explaining his importance as a figure in the Empire. After seeing the movie, Grand Moff Tarkin is clearly the biggest Easter egg in Rogue One, if we can even call him that.
Bail Organa returns
Most Star Wars fans won't be able to give you a whole lot of things that they like about the prequel trilogy, but rarely will anyone throw Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa under the bus. Gareth Edwards decided to include the character in Star Wars: Rogue One and it is most definitely a great way of cementing his legacy in Star Wars lore as an important figure in the Rebellion. Outside of any significance, it was also just a neat little way to tie things together, which is what a good Easter egg should do.
That said, there was an awful lot of significance to the small role Jimmy Smits played in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. For one, we get to see how he transitioned from an influential figure in the Galactic Senate to a crucial player in the Rebel Alliance. Perhaps most importantly, and most tragically, in the movie it is confirmed that he is on Alderaan when it is destroyed, meaning that Princess Leia's adopted father dies with her home planet. As tragic as that event always was, it makes it even more significant for one of the most important characters in all of Star Wars history.
Mon Mothma & Jan Dodonna run the Rebellion
There are some significant figures from the Rebellion who make appearances in Star Wars: Rogue One, but they are being portrayed by different actors than those who portrayed them originally. First, Mon Mothma, who first appeared in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi shows up in the movie, as portrayed by Genevieve O'Reilly, who played her once before in some scenes for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, but the scenes were ultimately cut from the movie. Next, we have Jan Dodonna, who is being played this time around by Game of Thrones star Ian McElhinney. His character first appeared in Star Wars: A New Hope and was portrayed by Alex McCrindle.
R2-D2 & C-3PO are hanging out on Yavin IV
The droid duo of R2-D2 and C-3PO have been an integral part of the Star Wars universe ever since the first minutes of Star Wars: A New Hope. Since the events of Star Wars: Rogue One lead directly into the events of the original Star Wars, it seems very fitting that the droids made an appearance. Even if it was very brief. During one of the sequences at the Rebel base on Yavin, R2-D2 and C-3PO get a quick moment of screen time, which was definitely a fun thing for fans of the franchise. It also means that R2-D2 Anthony Daniels' C-3PO are now the only characters that have been featured in all eight live-action Star Wars movies to date. Since they are likely going to be showing up in Star Wars Episode VIII as well, it looks like they will be going nine for nine, which is pretty impressive and speaks to he and R2-D2's likability.
Princess Leia gets the Death Star plans ready for R2-D2
In Star Wars: A New Hope, Princess Leia is one of the first key figures in the Rebellion that we are introduced to and she is easily the most significant figure in that movie. Yes, Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star and rescues her, but he was still a pretty new figure in the Rebel Alliance at the time. Leia has been grinding it out for years and really helps bring him into the fold properly. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ends pretty much right where Star Wars: A New Hope picks up, it was a nice little tie-in for Gareth Edwards to have the last shot of the movie focus on Princess Leia. Hope is a major theme in Star Wars, especially the original movie and Rogue One, so it seems very fitting that the line Princess Leia gets in the movie has to do with hope as well.
It is pretty clear that Easter eggs and references to the things that Star Wars fans know and love are going to be a big part of the new Disney way of doing things. But if filmmakers like Gareth Edwards can continue to find a way to work them in and not have them feel forced, they will likely remain nice little surprises for Star Wars fans. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story definitely handled it the right way.