The most coveted Star Wars footage in the galaxy as of Friday was the secret Rogue One trailer that played at London’s big Celebration event, where fans were treated to their first in-movie glimpse of Darth Vader, the iconic Sith lord who will play a small but “looming” role in the upcoming spinoff.
Or at least, fans saw his silhouette reflected on a gleaming black floor, a tantalizing image paired with the instantly recognizable sound of his rasping mechanical breath. The seconds-long tease came at the end of a new trailer for the film, which will reveal how Rebel spies infiltrated the Empire and stole the blueprints for the original Death Star vital to its destruction in A New Hope.
The trailer begins with a little girl (likely a baby Jyn Erso) running frantically through a green tundra, similar to the one where we’ve seen images of a Death Trooper clutching a mini toy Stormtrooper. The scene then transitions to an adult Erso running in the same direction, as Felicity Jones’s voiceover portends the importance of defeating the Empire: “Every day we grow weaker, while they grow stronger. This is our chance to make a real difference.”
A flurry of war-like images then follow, including a line of handcuffed X-wing pilots being shepherded along by Stormtroopers and explosive battles on the beaches of Scarif, a newly introduced Death Star-adjacent planet. Then the final coup: reflected on the floor against a vivid red background, that familiar silhouette and ragged breath.
One enterprising fan in attendance on Friday took the whole “I rebel” thing more seriously than most and uploaded a badly shot clip from the event—one that ironically begins with a projected warning from Lucasfilm: “Loose lips sink starships! CONFIDENTIAL.” See it below or, more ideally, wait for the official Lucasfilm release, which will obviously be less maddeningly fuzzy.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be the first non-trilogy Star Wars movie and has its work cut out for it in tone, in terms of both paying homage to the originals (without that, fans would surely mount their own rebellion) and carving out a unique identity of its own. It already seems more war-like than the average Star Wars movie, at least in part thanks to the influence of Tony To, who produced HBO’s stellar WWII miniseries Band of Brothers, along with The Pacific. Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy have also gushed about the film’s guerilla-style, shoulder-mounted camerawork, which they promise will make for an “incredibly immersive experience.”
So far, it sounds like no one is exaggerating: in the press line after the event, Edwards told Fandango that the planet Jedha—another new location, a Mecca-like place where “people go on pilgrimages”—was shot on a 360-degree set, where “even the cameramen were in costumes.”
Still, the first Star Wars standalone story—which already boasts a baddie of its own, the sartorially distinguished Director Orson Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn—couldn’t resist having James Earl Jones reprise his role as the former Anakin Skywalker. We’ll see how the whole thing turns out on Dec. 16 when Rogue One hits theaters.