Disney and Lucasfilm are getting ready to go full-steam ahead on getting the hype train moving for their next Star Wars movie. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is due out in December, and because it is a Star Wars movie, there will be months of press, details slowly leaking out and mounting anticipation for the follow up to The Force Awakens. But Rogue One is going to be a very different type of Star Wars movie, and Disney has their work cut out for them to help the mainstream audience understand that.

The studio recently got a lot of excitement built up thanks to a massive amount of coverage about the movie from Entertainment Weekly, which got a lot of people on board. Prior to all of the new details that were revealed about Rogue One in that EW spread, we didn't know all that much about the movie. We knew that it was going to be a spinoff movie taking place in the Star Wars universe, we knew the timeline in which the story took place and we knew the main beat of the plot. But beyond that, much of Rogue One was a mystery. That is no longer the case.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be taking place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and will center around a band of Rebels who are tasked with stealing the plans for the first Death Star. That band of Rebels will be led by Felicity Jones' character Jyn Erso and she is being joined by a very seemingly interesting cast of characters. Not only do the characters sound very much like nice additions to the Star Wars universe, but the cast is absolutely stacked with top shelf talent like Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk and Ben Mendelsohn.

Disney recently had to do a little bit of damage control after it was revealed that Rogue One would reportedly have to undergo substantial reshoots. It still isn't totally clear to what degree of severity these reshoots were because reports varied widely, with some saying the movie was a total disaster and others saying it is all very standard. We do know that Disney plans for reshoots with their larger movies, so it did seem like a lot of the panic about these reshoots were a bit overblown. Either way, Disney is committed to making Rogue One the best movie that they possibly can, and that should be encouraging.

J.J. Abrams managed to successfully re-invigorate the Star Wars franchise with The Force Awakens last year, and Disney wants to capitalize on that momentum. Rogue One is going to be the first ever Star Wars movie to take place outside of the main episodic Star Wars timeline, and it is going to be a very different kind of movie in a galaxy far far away. It is going to be a war movie, it will feature the most famous bad guy in all of Star Wars history and it will answer a lot of questions Star Wars fans have had for a long time. You may very well be excited about the movie, but here are some reasons that you should be a lot more excited about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The Introduction of Jyn Erso

Jyn Erso

Felicity Jones is one of the most promising actresses working in Hollywood today and Disney managed to lock her down to play the lead role in Rogue One, which should be a very exciting prospect for Star Wars fans, or fans of movies in general. Going all of the way back to A New Hope in 1977, the Star Wars movies have a long history of featuring strong female figures, and Jyn Erso looks like she will be another addition to that legacy. The first teaser trailer for Rogue One featured her character heavily, and it was very clear that she can handle herself in action.

Her character is described as a very streetwise troublemaker who has been living on her own since the age of 15. She has a very troubled past and has connections to the underworld. When she eventually crosses paths with the Rebel Alliance, they decide to try and put her skills to good use in order to help steal the Death Star plans. What is perhaps most interesting is that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy described her character as a "Joan of Arc" in Rogue One, so that could be something we haven't ever seen from a female character in the Star Wars universe before.

The Return of Darth Vader

Darth Vader

It is pretty much no contest when it comes to who the greatest movie villain of all-time is. Darth Vader is to this day unmatched in his ability to be an imposing force of evil on screen, and it has been quite some time since we have seen Vader on screen. He showed up briefly at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but that wasn't the Darth Vader we all know and love. That will soon change though, because we are getting real deal Darth Vader in Rogue One. We don't know exactly how much screen time Vader is going to get, but the fact that he is going to be in the movie at all is very exciting.

Rumors had been circulating for quite some time that Darth Vader would be making an appearance in the movie, but it has been confirmed and that is a really big deal. James Earl Jones is even returning to voice him for Rogue One, so this is truly the Vader we have been dying to see on screen again ever since Return of the Jedi. Not only that, but because of the time period that the movie takes place during, this will be a version of the character that we have never seen. If there is only one reason any fan of Star Wars or of movies at all should be excited about Rogue One, Darth Vader is it.

Director Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards

There are elements of the 2014 Godzilla reboot that not everyone loved, but for the most part, Gareth Edwards did a very good job of finally being able to get that right outside of the original Japanese movies. The movie made a lot of money and put Edwards on Disney and Lucasfilm's radar, which is what landed him the coveted job of directing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The task of tackling the very first Star Wars spinoff ever is no easy one, but even if you didn't love Godzilla, he very much seems like the right guy on paper. For one, Rogue One is going to be more of a war movie with elements of espionage with the theft of the Death Star plans. Everything we have seen from Edwards points to these things being able to play into his strengths. With Godzilla, Edwards was able to bring an interesting take on the classic franchise by showing all of the monsters and disaster through the eyes of the people around the chaos. He understands the importance of character and how to look at something through fresh eyes. That is something Star wars could really use and it should be really great to see what Edwards is able to do in the Star Wars universe.

Saw Gerrera is Back

Saw Gerrera

Forest Whitaker has been one of the better actors working in Hollywood for a very long time now, so it was very exciting when it was announced he would be taking on a role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He wound up having one of the best bits in the first teaser trailer for the movie, and that only got us more excited, but when his character's name was revealed, it changed everything. Whitaker is playing a character by the name of Saw Gerrera, and fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars may very well know that name. As it turns out, he is a character that first appeared in the fifth season of the animated TV show, and that is a really big deal. Not only is Saw Gerrera a great, grizzled, hardened, battle tested character, but it is also very significant that Lucasfilm pulled a character that was created in the Star Wars expanded universe and is bringing them to live action. That opens up a big world of opportunity in the future, and is a really big deal in terms of potential for the future of the franchise. For Rogue One specifically, not only do we have an excellent actor like Whitaker in a Star Wars movie, but he is playing a character who already has a rich history to mine.

It's a Real War Movie

Stormtroopers

When one thinks of Star Wars, a lot of things come to mind. Lightsabers, The Force, complicated family relationships, cool space ships. But oddly, one doesn't think often enough about the actual title of the franchise. All of the Star Wars saga up to this point has taken place during a time of war, or at least when the threat of war was prevalent. Rogue One may very well be the first pure war movie we ever get in the Star Wars universe. We have seen elements of this in the footage that Lucasfilm has released, especially in the Rogue One featurette that was shown at Star Wars Celebration this year. The focus is not on The Force, Jedi's or trade negotiations. It is on a band of Rebel soldiers who are doing some of the nitty gritty work that is needed for the war effort. We are going to get to see the what a boots on the ground perspective from the front-lines of battlegrounds in a Star Wars movie, and that should be a very exciting and interesting prospect for any Star Wars fan. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be a true blue war movie set in the Star Wars universe, and that is really cool.

Donnie Yen Fights Stormtroopers

Donnie Yen

One of the great things about Star Wars has always been the various kinds of combat that are displayed in the various movies. We get more traditional combat in the form of lightsaber battles, lots of gunfights and of course, aerial battles with some of the most memorable spaceships ever put to screen. But Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has something new in store for fans, as martial arts legend Donnie Yen is in the movie and that is going to potentially be very awesome. His character, named Chirrut Imwe, is a blind warrior who is not himself a Jedi but has dedicated himself to the Jedi way in order to become a very imposing fighter. Yen has headlined some of the greatest action and martial arts movies of all-time, like IP Man and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. So the prospect of taking talent like that and transplanting it in the Star Wars universe with an interesting character backstory like Chirrut has reeks of potential, and could easily wind up being one of the highlights of Rogue One.

AT-ACT

AT-ACT

One of the most memorable sequences in the entire Star Wars franchise is the battle on Hoth with the AT-ATs assaulting the shield generator at the Rebel base. We have only had very faint glimpses of the Walkers in other Star Wars movies, but we know that we are getting a version of them in Rogue One, and that is extremely exciting. At the end of the first teaser for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we see the team of Rebels running for their lives and they come face to face with several Walkers, which we know are early versions of the AT-ATs featured in The Empire Strikes Back known as AT-ACTs. We don't know exactly how much the Walkers will be featured in Rogue One, but we know for sure it will be more than just a glimpse and they will for sure be in action and not just there to look pretty. No doubt, the prospect of seeing another Walker action sequence is as good a reason as any to get really excited about Rogue One.

All the New Things

New Things

One of the most interesting things that continues to be revealed as we learn more about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is that there are going to a whole lot of things that we have never seen in other Star Wars movies. There are new ships, like the Rebel U-Wing and the Imperial Tie Striker, which both look interesting from what we have seen. There seems to be an awful lot of new Stormtroopers that we have never seen before, such as the seemingly threatening and highly advertised Death Troopers, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. It looks like the very first Star Wars spinoff movie is going to be jam packed with a lot of new weapons, ships, characters and costumes for fans to drool over, and those types of things have always been one of the best things about digging deep into Star Wars lore. That seems to be a big part of what these spinoff movies will be about, and Rogue One doesn't appear to be skimping on that aspect of the movie, which is really neat.

It's A Star Wars Movie

X-Wing

It pretty much goes without saying that there aren't a lot of people who love The Phantom Menace, or most of the prequels for that matter. But we still talk about that movie and there are still things we love from Episode I. With that said, at the very worst a Star Wars movie is still a Star Wars movie, and that is still exciting. The good news is, The Force Awakens was really good and everything we have seen from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been very encouraging, so we have no reason to think that this new addition to the Star Wars movie universe is going to be bad. At worst, we should wind up with a decent Star Wars movie that gives us some cool stuff to talk about. However, at the best, we have a Star Wars movie that has the chance to do something very different and bring a really fresh perspective to the Star Wars universe, and that is undoubtedly exciting.

Disney and Lucasfilm seem to be very committed to the Star Wars fan base, and that is very encouraging as the release for Rogue One approaches. Before we know it, we will be sitting in a theater, as excited as ever, waiting for those famous words to flash across the screen that let us know that we are about to watch a Star Wars movie. And that is really cool. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott