The next few months will likely bring about a host of Oscars contenders and major features starring A-list actors. But no film coming out in the remainder of 2016 will generate as much excitement as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The first of several planned spin-offs Disney is working on for its expanding Star Wars universe, Rogue One will tell a story Star Wars fans have been wondering about for decades: that of how the rebels stole the schematics for the Death Star before A New Hope.
The full trailer came out in early August and immediately got the internet buzzing about different hints, indications, easter eggs, etc. It’s an exciting first look at what’s sure to be a pretty thrilling film. But it’s also a masterful display in marketing. Disney very knowingly put together a trailer packed with new faces and plot points in addition to little glimpses of the past that tug at our collective nostalgia for George Lucas’s original trilogy. Let’s take a look at some of the elements that made up this effort.
There might not be a Millennium Falcon sighting in the Rogue One trailer (though according to SlashFilm, which did a write-up on what we know so far, the ship actually could be in the movie), but there are plenty of fleeting visuals of the ships and vehicles that helped to make Star Wars so wondrous all those years ago. We see X-Wings (the choice ship for rebel pilots), AT-ATs (the giant mechanical dinosaurs that meandered around Hoth during one of the series’ most memorable battles), and even what looks like a TIE Advanced x1, which is the sleeker and more rounded TIE fighter that was famously used by Darth Vader in A New Hope. Each one of these ships immediately takes fans back to the first three films, and each will be a welcome sight on screen.
It might sound like a small or obvious thing, but the presence of good old-fashioned Stormtroopers in the trailer is a beautiful sight for a lot of diehard Star Wars fans. While the imperial troops were in The Force Awakens, their slightly altered costumes made them look a little bit different, just like the clone designs looks a little bit off in the prequel series. Meanwhile, the original Stormtrooper look is arguably among the most iconic movie costume designs of all time. In fact, according to an account by Lottoland, an authentic Stormtrooper helmet can still cost upwards of £40,000 (or about $52,000) at auction. That’s a stretch for the average fan, though for hopeful lottery winners perhaps it’s a realistic piece of memorabilia to shoot for! But lottery or not, we can all enjoy seeing these phenomenal costumes in action, and it’s a thrill, even in a trailer, to see original Stormtroopers doing their thing.
Or generals, rebel leaders, or whatever else you’d like to call them. Somewhat subtly, these supporting characters were a fixture in the original trilogy. On both sides, rebel and imperial, they wear varying shades of relatively neutral colors—beiges, greens, whites, etc.—and calmly lurk in command centers fielding information and issuing orders to the more powerful soldiers of the galaxy. Figures like these lent a sense of structure to the military aspects of the original trilogy, and they were largely done away with in the prequel trilogy, replaced by bickering senators and the like. It’s something not a lot of people will necessarily put their fingers on, but the presence of figures like these in the trailer contributes greatly to Rogue One taking on a nostalgic, retro feel.
Finally, in its least subtle (and admittedly most thrilling) bit of nostalgia-baiting, the Rogue One trailer gave us a look at Darth Vader, and everyone freaked out. But seriously, is there a better way to drum up interest in this prequel/spin-off than by including cinema’s most legendary villain?
Through all of these little tricks, the Rogue One trailer demonstrated mastery in the art of stoking fans’ emotions. Now we’re all ready and waiting to head to the box office.