WARNING: The following article contains several major spoilers for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," as well as "Rebels" and "Clone Wars". Read at your own risk!
It is that exciting time of year again, when we breakdown all the cool little hints, nods, and references in the new Star Wars film. Last year "The Force Awakens" was the gift that kept on giving as fans (and the filmmakers) continued to reveal easter eggs long after the film's release. Now,"Rogue One" may have just opened in North America, but we have already scoured the footage for easter eggs to share with you.
On top of a bunch of awesome connections to the Original Trilogy, we’ve also included the harder-to-find links to the Prequels and the "Rebels" animated series! If you are on your way to your second or third screening, we feel this is a great guide to help you catch the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments.
15 Star Wars: Rebels’ The Ghost
While many had guessed that there would be a "Rebels" easter egg in "Rogue One," most had expected it to be a live-action cameo by a member of the Lothal Rebels. Well, not quite the case, but almost as good, is an appearance by the Ghost itself. Hera Syndulla’s light freighter is seen from the back as it heads into the fray at Scarif with the rest of the Alliance fleet. Many fans weren't convinced that it was indeed the same ship from the few seconds of footage shown in the trailer, but eagle-eyed viewers have noted that you see it from the front in other shots of the film, so it's definitely the Ghost.
It’s worth noting that this tie-in is similar to the easter egg in "A New Hope: Special Edition" where we see The Outrider from "Shadows of the Empire" taking off from the Mos Eisley spaceport.
14 Black Saber
When Jyn and Cassian are searching for the Death Star plans (codename: Stardust), they come across codenames for various other Imperial weapons projects. The one that stands out is Black Saber. While it is not the exact same name, it seems likely it has something to do with the Darksaber, which is a powerful Jedi relic that was introduced in "The Clone Wars" animated series. In the show, the unique lightsaber is wielded by Mandalorian warmonger Pre Vizsla before being claimed by fan-favorite Darth Maul.
There's a possibility that the Empire had been looking into using kyber crystals not only to power the Death Star superlaser, but also in tandem with other super-weapons like the Darksaber blade. Of course, this is just a theory.
Interestingly, just a week before the release of "Rogue One," "Star Wars: Rebels" reintroduced the Darksaber, which was still in the possession of Darth Maul. By the end of the episode, however, it had fallen into the hands of another Mandalorian, Sabine Wren of the Ghost crew.
13 The Guardians of the Whills
After Jyn meets the Chirrut Îmwe, Cassian tells her that the blind monk is part of an order called the Guardians of the Whills who take it upon themselves to protect the ancient Jedi temple filled with kyber crystals. Then, when they are being held captive by Saw, Chirrut informs Cassian that Baze used to be a Guardian as well.
Why should you care? Well, the Whills are a major part of Star Wars history. Initially, George Lucas had planned to have the whole Skywalker saga told from the perspective of an immortal race called the Whills that records important historical events. While he scrapped that plan, they were eventually mentioned in the "Revenge of the Sith" script and novelization, but that scene didn’t make it into the film. Through their teachings, Qui-Gon learned how to maintain his consciousness after death and appear as a Force ghost.
Since Yoda's species has never been revealed, many fans thought he may be one of these immortal Whills. However, that speculation was put to rest by George Lucas himself.
12 DC-15 Blasters
Unlike “The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One” and its filmmakers are happy to embrace the Prequels. Not only do we get Jimmy Smits and Genevieve O’Reilly as Alliance leaders Bail Organa and Mon Mothma again, but we also see Jyn being transported in a Clone Turbo Tank, and there is even mention of the DC-15 blaster. Three different models of this blaster were commonly used by Clone Troopers during "The Clone Wars."
As for "Rogue One," there's a scene in which a couple Stormtroopers on Scarif are talking about a rumor that the DC-15s are being decommissioned. This occurs right before they get jumped by some rebels. While the line of dialogue may seem trivial, it actually helps tie together the Prequel and Original Trilogies. This easter egg informs us that these blasters were phased out, just like the Clone Troopers themselves.
In the Original Trilogy, E-11 blaster rifles are standard issue for Stormtroopers. Once the Prequels were released, the E-11 was retconned to be based on an evolution of the DC-15A.
11 Darth Vader’s Castle
Star Wars legend, Ralph McQuarrie, did various concept sketches for the original trilogy, including one for Darth Vader’s castle meant to be used in “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, the designs for the castle were never used. Over the years, many writers of the Expanded Universe novels and comics ran with the idea once it was revealed. In those stories, it is known as Bast Castle and is located on a dark, rainy planet named Vjun. While there has not been confirmation that Vader’s fortress in “Rogue One” and Bast Castle are one in the same, it’s obvious the filmmakers took inspiration from McQuarrie’s concept art.
If you are not familiar with Ralph McQuarrie, he is the visionary artist behind much of the look of the Original Trilogy, plus his work from that era is being used as the basis for the visual style of the "Rebels" animated series as well. X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Stormtroopers, and Darth Vader... Without McQuarrie, their iconic looks would not exist.
10 Monsters and Godzilla (2014)
Even before "Rogue One" officially hit theatres in North America, director Gareth Edwards revealed a very cool easter egg. During an interview on "The Star Wars Show" vidcast, Edwards encouraged viewers to keep an eye out for the cave paintings in Saw’s hideout because, he states, “One of them is of the creatures that were in my first film, "Monsters." Then, there’s some MUTOs from 'Godzilla.'” We should note that this easter egg was not the director’s idea. It turns out his crew did it before he arrived on set one day to surprise him.
While a fun addition, sci-fi icons making an appearance in "Star Wars" is nothing new. It’s well documented at this point that a couple of E.T.s appeared in the senate in "The Phantom Menace." And less known is the fact that an EVA pod from "2001" can be spotted in Watto’s junkyard in the same film. Conversely, we’ve seen R2-D2 show up in both "Star Trek" films directed by J.J. Abrams, Spielberg’s "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and he’s even in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as a hieroglyph.
I know this doesn't confirm a shared universe or anything, but I can’t stop wondering if a rancor could holds it own against Godzilla now.
As mentioned, Saw Gerrera’s cave hideout has quite a few easter eggs and another one to look out for is a couple of Saw's rebels playing what appears to be a game of dejarik. Dejarik is the hologram battle chess game Chewie and R2 play on the Millennium Falcon in “A New Hope,” the very same one where 3PO tells R2 to “let the Wookiee win,” after being warned by Han what could happen if Chewie gets upset. The game can also be seen on the Millennium Falcon in “The Force Awakens.” In "Rogue One," the version of the game being played seems to be the same, except the rebels are gambling over it and the pieces are figurines rather than holograms.
For fanboy bonus points, also look out for Star Wars regular Warwick Davis as Weeteef Cyubee, the diminutive member of Saw’s partisans. Davis has played seven characters (nine, if you count the Ewok spinoff movies) in four Star Wars movies so far, including doubling for Yoda in some scenes in "The Phantom Menace."
8 The Saw/Darth Vader Connection
While Saw Gerrera is not a Jedi, he definitely seems to have fallen to the dark side of things. This is not only evident in the extremist tactics he has employed against the Empire, but also seems to be illustrated in the similarities he shares with Darth Vader. Much of his body has been replaced with bionic parts like the Dark Lord of the Sith, and when we see Saw use his breather for the first time, it sounds exactly like Darth Vader’s distinct breathing apparatus (despite not sounding like that in every subsequent use of Saw's breather). The point would seem to be that, in war, there is a fine line between heroes and villains.
When we first meet Saw on the planet Onderon in "The Clone Wars" animated series, he is brash and gung-ho. He and his sister, Steela, lead a resistance cell fighting a figurehead king and the Separatists who backed his ascension to the throne. They get trained in military tactics by Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. But when Steela dies at the hands of the Separatists, Saw starts down the darker path that led to his "Rogue One" appearance.
7 Blue Milk
In the prelude before the "Rogue One" title screen, we get a glimpse of Jyn's past. As the camera pans through the Erso household, we are given a clear view of a big pitcher of blue milk. This is the same drink the Lars homestead stocks in "A New Hope." Apparently, the cobalt-tinged dairy comes from Banthas and is mostly found on Outer Rim planets like Tatooine and Lothal. The drink has also made appearances in "Attack of the Clones" and the "Rebels" animated TV series. "Blue milk run” is even a military term in the Expanded Universe. Much like "milk run," it simply means an easy mission.
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" doesn't even try to be subtle about this particular easter egg. The camera pan stops in such a way that, for a second or two, all you see is the kitchen table. The pitcher of blue milk is in the center of it, taking up a good 75% of the shot. They clearly wanted fans to catch this one!
Fun fact: There is a deleted scene from "A New Hope" where Beru Lars pours blue milk in her kitchen (pictured above).
6 Red 5
When the Rebel Alliance finally decides to back up Jyn and her crew, they bring the whole fleet to Scarif. That includes the X-Wing Red Squadron and Gold Squadron from “A New Hope,” as well as a new addition called Blue Squadron. While we know a handful of the Red Squadron pilots survive (because we see them in "A New Hope"), Red 5 is not so lucky. His X-Wing is shot down over Scarif shortly after he announces his call sign. This, of course, sets up why Luke Skywalker gets the Red 5 position and call sign when he joins Red Squadron. There is another great easter egg during the dog fights over Scarif which we will explore with the #2 entry on this list.
Fun fact: There is a comic book publisher named after Luke's call sign, Red 5, and they put out the critically acclaimed "Atomic Robo" comic series until 2015.
5 Original Trilogy Verbal Homages
The Original Trilogy films have some of the most recognizable lines in all of cinema and the "Rogue One" team made sure to include some of the most quoted ones. First off, we get Saw Gerrera uttering Admiral Ackbar's oft-mocked outburst from “Return of the Jedi,” "It's a trap!” Saw’s statement is in reference to Bodhi Rook’s convenient arrival with sensitive information.
Next we have Cassian Andor telling K-2SO to "Punch it!" as they try to escape the shockwave from the Jedha explosion. This, of course, is a line both Han and Lando say to Chewie in "Empire Strikes Back."
Finally, we get dour droid K2 saying, “I have a bad feeling about this," as he, Cassian, and Jyn enter the Scarif base. Actually, to be specific, he only manages to get out, "I have a bad feeling about..." and then Jyn hushes him. This line is said in every "Star Wars" film by different characters as they enter dicey situations.
4 Obi-Wan Reference
After the Alliance Council decides not to back Jyn’s plan and they are dispersing, Mon Mothma asks Bail Organa about the Jedi-in-hiding he knows. Bail replies that: “He served me well during The Clone Wars.” If it’s not immediately clear, they’re talking about Obi-Wan Kenobi here. This is relevant to "A New Hope" as it seems to infer two things: first, it seems Bail has only revealed Kenobi’s location to Leia; and second, it appears Bail was planning to call on Obi-Wan eventually, regardless of the situation that unfolded.
There has been hints for a while now in the "Rebels" animated series that both Darth Maul and the Ghost crew will find Obi-Wan by the end of the current season. So, with Obi-Wan easter eggs in both new Star Wars movies, a "Rebels" appearance, and Ewan McGregor stating he would come back to reprise the role, how long is it before Disney green lights that Ben Kenobi standalone film?
3 R2-D2 and C-3PO
What would Star Wars be without the two most recognizable robots in pop culture? While often integral to a Star Wars movie’s plot, the bot duo only gets a quick cameo here. They appear in the scene on Yavin IV where Alliance fighters are leaving for Scarif. While their screen time is short, C-3PO does get a line in. He exclaims, in his usual exasperated fashion, “Nobody ever tells me what is going on!”
And for all those wondering, yes, it is Anthony Daniels in the golden suit yet again. Daniels has played the character in all eight Star Wars film!
Considering we see Princess Leia on the Tantive IV with the Death Star plans at the end of the film, we can safely assume that these two are on board as well because we all know what happens next: they become the most wanted droids in a galaxy far, far away.
RIP Kenny Baker (R2-D2's actor).
2 Unused Footage From "A New Hope"
You can’t tribute a film much more than actually using some footage from it, and that’s exactly what "Rogue One" director Gareth Edwards did here. He posited that since this film takes place so close to “A New Hope,” the Alliance would have many of the same pilots in both films. Therefore, he decided to include unused cockpit footage of Red Leader Garven Dreis (played by Drewe Henley) and Gold Leader Dutch Vander (played by Angus MacInnes) in the final space battle above Scarif. His logic was that by recasting the roles, people wouldn't recognize them, but by using “A New Hope" era footage, fans would immediately go, "Hey, that's Dutch!"
Edwards spoke to the Radio Times about the process that made these cameos possible, stating "We got the neg documents and found the clips from 'A New Hope' that hadn’t been used. And there’s pilot photography and lines that were never featured in 'A New Hope'. Through the magic of ILM, they cut around them and manipulated them and stuck them into our cockpits."
1 The Cantina Thugs
While any Star Wars fan could have guessed C-3PO and R2-D2 might make cameos, the random appearance of Dr. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba in the streets of Jedha was the real surprise. These two are the same ruffians we see harassing Luke at Chalmun’s Cantina in "A New Hope," Ponda Baba being the one who has his hand lopped off by Obi-Wan's lightsaber. It was Dr. Evazen who bragged, "We're wanted men. I have the death sentence in twelve systems."
What can be gleaned from the timing of their appearance is that they narrowly escaped the destruction of Jedha City and most likely went straight to Tatooine. These guys really seem to have a thing for desert planets.
In the Expanded Universe, they both survive their encounter with Old Ben Kenobi. However, Baba almost dies on the operating table when Evazan attempts to reattach his arm. Considering Vader's bionic limbs and Luke's prosthetic hand, it seems like that might have been the better way to go.
"Rogue One" opened in theatres December 16th, 2016. Did you spot any easter eggs in it that we missed? Be sure to tell us about them in the comments!