The journey to Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars blockbuster starts here…
When The Force Awakens arrived to return the Star Wars Saga to its original source material, no one could have anticipated the power the saga still held, a power that would allow fans from all corners of the world to unite like never before. The major difference between the release of Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens has been the emergence of social media, a medium where fans from all corners of the Outer Rim territories can share their passion with one another.
With a new social format available for the fan base to engage with, the dominating concern for the deeply loyal and passionate fans of the greatest space saga of all time was whether J.J Abrams, the man tasked with replacing George Lucas at the helm, could actually return the saga to its roots and rekindle the emotional nostalgia we all share for the Original Trilogy.
Many of us were sceptical…
And then we witnessed the tyrannous First Order Stormtroopers emerge from the Transporter landing ramp, just as they did thirty years previous when the pressure door of the Tantive IV exploded to reveal a swarm of Imperial Stormtroopers intent on capturing the rebel crew and regaining the stolen plans to the dreaded Death Star. The iconic image instantly transported us back to a universe where the white suited warriors commanded by the villainous Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine threatened to march across the stars and enslave the galaxy. Within moments of the seventh chapters opening sequence, Abrams had expertly reinstalled the vintage feeling of the saga, diluted so despairingly throughout the release of the prequel trilogy.
With the return of such iconic characters as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa, the fans were truly treated to long awaited return to form for the saga and despite having many doubters, the blockbuster went on to become a $2 Billion Dollar juggernaut. The majority of the fan base enjoyed a degree of instant gratification whilst there were some, myself included who required several screenings of the film in order to truly dissect the quality of the content presented so vividly on the screen. Almost a year later, the Star Wars saga has been thoroughly rejuvenated and as a result the fan base have been promised an abundance of new content for us all to look forward to.
It was then that Lucasfilm announced the creation of a new series of movies, an anthology of stories separate from the traditional episodic format we have become accustomed to. The first of the new Star Wars Anthology movies was announced to be a tale of heroics set amongst the backdrop of the war torn years between Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV A New Hope. The movie was announced as Rogue One, a story set to relay the tale of how the Rebel Alliance came to be in the possession of the plans to the Empire’s first dreaded Death Star. Not only was the movie announced to be a return to the era of the galactic civil war from the original trilogy, but we also discovered a rumour that the dark lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader would make a special appearance.
With legendary actor James Earl Jones returning to reprise his iconic role in the popular Star Wars Rebels television series, the door appeared to be opening for his epic return to the movie franchise but the confirmation of his involvement was kept under wraps. However, In the aftermath of his stunning debut in the series’ season finale and engrossing presence throughout season 2, Darth Vader’s Rogue One participation was confirmed and the fans have an Original Trilogy Themed Star Wars movie to look forward to with their favourite villain stalking the rebellion threat once again.
In addition to this amazing news, we were treated to a new teaser trailer for the movie which unveiled several of the new characters that we will be joining when the blaster fire erupts on December 15The Fth. For the Empire, alongside the established hordes of armoured Imperial Stormtroopers are three new troops destined to enter the annals of Star Wars fandom. Their new armour, which has been designed to be as foreboding as it is unique gives us the impression of a much darker time in the Star Wars timeline, reflecting the struggles of the period.
- THE IMPERIAL DEATHTROOPER
The elite soldiers of Imperial Intelligence, Death Troopers have been designed to be encased in specialised Stormtrooper armour with a dark and foreboding gleam. These new, lethal looking soldiers serve as both bodyguards and enforcers for our new villain Director Krennic, an ambitious officer in command of the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Empire.
2. THE IMPERIAL SCARIF STORMTROOPER
These specialised Stormtroopers stationed at the top-secret Imperial military facility on Scarif patrol the beaches and bunkers of the installation earning them the name Imperial Shoretroopers.
3. IMPERIAL HOVERTANK PILOT
Imperial Hovertank Pilots are the new Imperial combat drivers specialised in operating the Imperial Assault Hovertanks of Rogue One. Under Imperial occupation, the streets of desert moon Jedha are patrolled by Imperial Assault Hovertanks with these new sleek soldiers at the helm.
Alongside these new additions to the Stormtrooper fraternity, we are set to be introduced to a whole new array of characters, ranging from a reprogrammed Imperial Security Droid to a Wookiee like Gigioran mercenary to name but a few. These almost certain iconic characters will soon be entering the vaults of our beloved Star Wars brethren to take their rightful place amongst the growing universe set in a galaxy far, far away…
If these new additions weren’t enough to hit home the nostalgic feeling of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we have been indulged further by the return of one of our beloved childhood favourite vehicles from the Empire Strikes Back, the AT-AT. This time however, the four legged walkers have been outfitted to carry cargo containers across the harshest terrains the galaxy has to offer. The AC-ACT (All Terrain Armoured Cargo Transport) will surely prove to be another hit with the fans, a hit that will only be accentuated by the looming release of a Hasbro toy version that will undoubtedly be delighting the imaginations of our children for years to come.
With the soul of the Original Trilogy truly rejuvenated by The Force Awakens and with this new chapter bridging the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the fans of the saga are set for an amazing few years. Following the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in a few short months, we are blessed with an abundance of material to digest beginning with Star Wars Episode VIII, A untitled Han Solo anthology movie and Star Wars Episode IX all set for future release. If that wasn’t enough, Star Wars Celebration Europe served as the perfect stage for Star Wars Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni to announce the involvement of an iconic character in the eagerly anticipated third season. The announcement, which was greeted with an ovation of applause was the confirmation that Grand Admiral Thrawn, the sinister villain from the Timothy Zahn expanded universe novels would be joining the Empire’s quest to eliminate the Rebellion threat, a character us fans have been pleading to see on screen for many years. If that wasn’t enough to appease our delighted souls, we caught a glimpse of the Outrider, the modified YT-2400 freighter commanded by the unswerving Dash Rendar within the pages of the sublime Star Wars novel Shadows of the Empire. Filoni went on to confirm that a version of the famous craft would be making a special guest appearance within season three but sadly, Dash Rendar would not be at the helm.
And so, with Darth Vader returning to our screens and Grand Admiral Thrawn arriving to threaten the fortunes of our struggling band of Lothal Rebels, one thing is for certain…the nostalgic vibe of the Star Wars universe is alive and well. The old is new again approach has restored our faith in the saga which, in turn has The Force Awakens to thank for its return, a return that will stand the test of time, serving as its legacy. The nostalgic resonance we all share whilst we reminisce about the surprising sight of the Star Destroyer, in pursuit of the Tantive IV blasting across the screens in A New Hope is back with a bang, but only Lucasfilm truly knows what other surprises lie in wait for us all.
In fact, the only thing that goes beyond certainty is that the force is truly strong with Lucasfilm.
So set your chronometers for December 15th and the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story..
And as always…
May The Force Be With You