This story reveals some key plot elements to the upcoming film. Please stop reading If you wish to remain unspoiled.
[UPDATE: Disney says the images weren’t authorized to be released yet and we have removed them and adjusted the text accordingly.]
Getting information out of the highly secretive Star Wars creative team is generally more difficult than stealing plans to the Death Star from the Empire. But the rebels at the German site Jedi-Bilbliothek have found a thermal exhaust port-sized hole in the franchise’s defenses, uncovering fresh details about December’s highly anticipated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which a ragtag Rebel squad… well, steals plans to the Death Star. The leak comes courtesy of the Edelweiss book catalog, an online depository for new and upcoming releases used by booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and journalists.
On Monday, Edelweiss posted a digital catalog for Media Lab Books featuring 10 advanced images from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: The Official Visual Guide, set for release on Jan. 24, 2017, one month after the Gareth Edwards-directed movie arrives in theaters on Dec. 16. There’s no credited author on the cover (Lucasfilm mainstay Pablo Hidalgo, who previously wrote The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, issued a #VagueTweet that seemed to deny his involvement) and the publisher has emblazoned all pages with a “Not Final” note, making it clear the text and images could change before the book hits shelves. (And on a close read, the text is pretty repetitious, suggesting that there’s lots of editing and rewriting to be done over the next few months.) Nevertheless, this Visual Guide — which boasts 160 pages of pictures and other bells and whistles — offers some insight into the identities of the spies who help make the Rebels’ victory at the Battle of Yavin possible.
Here are some of the character descriptions contained in the text.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones): The central character in Rogue One is called a “highly skilled soldier and warrior” who embarks on this mission to “bring new hope to the galaxy.” Not mentioned, obviously, is whether Jyn is Rey’s mom, but that’s speculation that Jones has specifically shot down already.
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna): The highest-ranking member of the outfit, Cassian is a “Rebel Alliance officer” who gets involved with this “rogue band of resistance fighters.” (The entry finally dispels an early fan theory that Luna might be playing Luke Skywalker’s old pal Biggs Darklighter.)
Baze (Jiang Wen): A “freelance assassin,” prior to the events of Rogue One, Baze is somehow convinced to join the Rebels’ suicidal mission.
Bodhi (Riz Ahmed): Like Cassian, Bodhi is already part of the Rebel Alliance, but as a soldier rather than an officer.
Chirrut (Donnie Yen): Martial arts superstar Yen brings his fighting prowess to the role of the group’s resident “spiritual warrior.”
Pao and Bistan: These previously unseen CGI “fierce warriors” would seem to be the Groot and Rocket of the group by virtue of the fact that they’re the resident aliens and Bistan appears to be covered in fur. No word yet on which actors are providing their voices, but we like to think that Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel will pull double franchise duty.
K-250 (Alan Tudyk): The former Firefly star joins the Star Wars universe in computer-generated form as an “enforcer droid.” A separate page reveals that the K-250’s specs include photoreceptor units, auditory sensors and a vocabulator.
Opposing the members of Rogue One’s own personal suicide squad is Director Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn, who at one point was rumored to be playing a younger version of Grand Moff Tarkin. But the Visual Guide makes it clear that Mendelsohn won’t be doing his best Peter Cushing impression: instead, Krennic is described as the “Director of the Imperial Military,” who is “prepared to protect and preserve the evil Galactic Empire.”
He does this by commanding the Stormtroopers as well as the black-armored Death Troopers, “elite empire soldiers” whose only mission is “thwarting enemy rebel forces.” (Fun Fact: The name “Death Troopers,” was previously used as the title of a 2009 Star Wars novel by Joe Schreiber that’s closer in spirit to a Stephen King-like horror story than a swashbuckling space adventure. It’s no longer part of the canon, but lives on in the Star Wars Legends realm, where Expanded Universe stories now reside.)
There is also new firepower on display, including an Imperial hover tank and the TIE Striker, which looks a little like a sawed-off TIE Interceptor.
The Rebels, meanwhile, have a new starfighter, already nicknamed the U-wing by fans, which “balance speed with the firepower of proton torpedo launchers.”
Other released pages reveal images of the iconic X-wings in mid-flight, as well as specs for the Death Star.
One final illustration, which like the others has since been scrubbed from Edelweiss, also hints that a certain big bad from the Star Wars films will have a presence in the upcoming movie.
December can’t get here fast enough. Bring on the rogues of Rogue One!
Watch the Rogue One teaser trailer: