Star Lore (The Canon of Star Wars)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, what you need to know
By Richard Lynch
Rogue One is out! As the first non-numbered, standalone entry in the Star Wars film canon, that anybody admits to seeing, (remember the Ewoks movies?) Rogue One has the difficult task of fitting into the Star Wars Galaxy while also telling a separate story that appeals to fan and newcomers alike in ways we might not be expecting. What we can expect, though, is a ton of references to the larger cannon and the previous saga films. The goal here is to explain some of the potentially confusing lore elements of Rogue One and to clear up any confusion for people who haven’t read every single book and comic with the words Star Wars printed on it over the last few years.
Without further ado let’s get started…
What is Rogue One About?
I haven’t seen the movie yet so I could potentially be wrong but, according to all of the marketing Rogue One tell the story of the team of Rebel Spies who stole the plans to the Death Star. It takes place roughly 19 years after Revenge of the Sith and potentially days before A New Hope in a year generally referred to as 0 BBY (Before Battle of Yavin, the day the Death Star was destroyed)
Who are all these characters?
The film follows the story of an entirely new cast of heroes but a few have already been introduced thanks to the novel Catalyst
Introduced in Catalyst, Director Orson Krennic is an ambitious Imperial Officer with eyes firmly set on taking control of the Death Star project. During the era of the Republic, he worked his way up from engineering into a secret Republic military council in charge of advanced weapons research. During the rise of Empire, he finds that his relations to Galen Erso will be essential to maintain his position. In the film, Krennic will be played by Ben Mendelsohn.
An expert in crystallography, Galen Erso is the scientist who accidentally invented the techniques used to power the Death Star’s super laser. In Catalyst, we follow Erso and his wife Lyra as they struggle to make a living as scientists under the rule of the Empire. Extremely principled and often stubborn, Galen refused to participate in any research that could be used to harm others. Through a carefully constructed series of lies, Orson Krennic tricked Galen into working on the project under the guise of cheap energy. Eventually, the Ersos discover the truth and go into hiding. He will be portrayed by Mads Mikkelson.
Grand Moff Tarkin
While we don’t know for certain if he will be making an appearance, Tarkin plays such an integral role in the history of the Death Star that it seems impossible he won’t at least get a mention. Brilliant as he is ruthless, Wilhuff Tarkin was a key figure in the Republic military where he gained favor with future Emperor Palpatine. Best known for ordering the destruction of Alderaan, he believed in a policy of fear that could be used to enforce control in weaker star systems; this policy would become known as the Tarkin Doctrine. In the years leading up to A New Hope Tarkin oversaw construction of the Death Star, while quietly competing with Director Krennic for even more control over the project. After the Ersos had escaped Imperial hands, Tarkin was granted his wish and given full command of the battle station. In the original film, Tarkin was played by the late Peter Cushing.
The leader of the Rebel Alliance and a former senator, not much is known about Mon Mothma in the years leading up to her appearance in Return of the Jedi. She is said to be a strong leader who believes the Republic failed because it became too bloated with politics. She tends to make appearances at important military briefings but don’t expect her to mention any Bothans dying, that was in Jedi. She will be played by Genevieve O’Reilly.
With what we know from the prequels, Vader can be an often-confusing character. While quite powerful in the force, he actually holds little military power essentially having one-star destroyer (the Devastator) He answered directly to the emperor who would often command him to cooperate with military personnel like Tarkin. Outside of the higher ranks of the imperial military, Vader was something of a myth with very few knowing the full extent of his power or even that he was a force user. This was likely because very few actually people managed to live after discovering the truth. Expect to have his role as the Imperial enforcer explored more thoroughly in Rogue One.
Building the Death Star
Why did the first Death Star take almost 20 years to construct when the second one was nearly completed in 4? The answer is a little complicated and fully explored in Catalyst for those who are interested. The short answer is that most of the time spent building the Death Star was actually spent perfecting the super laser. As the Empire grew in power, it became easier for them to exploit planets for resources, the began tearing apart worlds searching for the valuable crystals that were used to power the weapon. With no real power, the Imperial Senate was incapable of stopping this rapid expansion. The designer of the battle station even went so far as to claim that they never truly learned how to get the laser to be fully operational.
An important aspect of the E.U., Kyber crystals as are colorless and nearly impossible to find. More importantly, they are used to power lightsabers. They are the center of Galen Erso’s research and are what will inevitably power the Death Star. The Jedi were all that prevented the crystals from being exploited in terrible ways. In trailers, we have seen a young Jyn being handed a Kyber Crystal for an unknown reason.