Disney’s first standalone Star Wars film, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, is finally here. Rogue One’s sort-of-prequel status allows it to tie in with other Star Wars stories, from the core series to spinoffs like Rebels, giving eagle-eyed fans plenty to search for throughout the film.
Director Gareth Edwards noted that he had decided to throw a ton of Easter eggs into the film, enough that he decided to limit himself so as not to overdo it. Despite that limitation there’s plenty to see, so we’ve collected some of our favorite winks and nods.
Some moderate-to-major spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
At the beginning of the film, we watch a young Jyn Erso sprint into her home to hide from Director Krennic who wants to “recruit” her father to help build the Death Star. As she enters the house, she passes a familiar beverage on the countertop: blue milk.
The drink seems to be popular on Star Wars farms: Luke Skywalker slurped it shortly after we first met him in A New Hope. According to Wookiepedia, the drink comes from Banthas.
This isn’t technically an Easter egg, but it’s a neat prop department detail. As Krennic’s Death Troopers search the Erso farm, they come across a toy left behind by Jyn: a toy Stormtrooper.
HAVw A6 Juggernaut
Shortly after we meet an adult Jyn, we find that she’s held prisoner at an Imperial Labor Camp on the planet Wobani. She’s being transported somewhere along with some other prisoners aboard a HAVw A6 Juggernaut, which was first seen in Revenge of the Sith. The massive armored transport that was used by the Republic Clone army. It appears to have found a new function away from the battlefield.
This is one of those scenes that begged for a ton of tiny references. Some high-profile background characters immediately stood out, like a quick shot of the duo Evazan and Ponda Baba, who end up in Mos Eisley on Tatooine in A New Hope. In the mix, there appears to be an RA-7 droid (which later pops in A New Hope in a Jawa sandcrawler on Tatooine).
A heavy Imperial presence allows for a few other callbacks. In the background of one shot loiter a Viper Probe Droid (originally used in Empire Strikes Back) as well as an AT-ST walker (Return of the Jedi). One of Saw Gerrera’s soldiers is also sporting a Scout Trooper helmet.
Early in the film, we learn that Jedha is a holy ground of sorts for Jedi Knights, rich with Kyber crystals, which Jedi use to power their Lightsabers. Jyn wears one on her necklace, given to her by her mother. The Empire, on the other hand, needs them as a vital component for the Death Star’s superlaser.
While in the Jedha marketplace, we learn that Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) were known as “Guardians of the Whills.” The Whills are a long-standing fixture in Star Wars lore, dating back to before the original Star Wars movies. George Lucas came up with the idea of the Whills in his first screenplay, and it’s been connected to a sort of holy book that chronicles the history of the galaxy.
Twi’lek dancer & Dejarik
When Captain Andor and Jyn are captured by Saw Gerrera’s forces on Jedha, they’re brought to his headquarters, where his guerrilla fighters are holed up. What do they do when they’re not harassing imperial shipments? They watch holograms of Twi’lek dancers, a favorite pastime of Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi, and play Dejarik, the board game that we saw Chewie and C-3PO playing in A New Hope (and later saw in The Force Awakens).
Vader’s Castle on Mustafar
One of the earliest elements of the original script for The Empire Strikes Back was an appearance of Darth Vader’s lair, known as Bast Castle. Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie had illustrated the structure, which was later incorporated into other stories in Rebels. A more imposing version of the castle is a minor location in Rogue One. Director Krennic stops by to brag about his work on the Death Star to Vader.
The components of the Death Star
The Death Star looms over this film, and it should come as no surprise to see characters like Peter Cushing’s Governor Tarkin or Darth Vader play a role here. On the scenes aboard the battle station, however, there’s a number of elements that are shared with A New Hope: the gunners, the UI or the screens, the tiny details in staff wardrobe.
Like the Jedha marketplace, Yavin Base is crowded with references and callbacks to other stories. Set in one of A New Hope’s prominent locations, we see characters like Mon Mothma (the Rebellion’s leader first seen in Return of the Jedi), General Jan Dodonna (seen in A New Hope), and Bail Organa (seen in Revenge of the Sith)
At one point, before Organa leaves after a critical meeting of the Alliance council, he casually refers to an old ally (Obi Wan Kenobi) on Tatooine, with a trusted messenger (Leia Organa). There’s also an appearance from R2-D2 and C-3PO, who have appeared in every Star Wars film to date.
A small callback to Rebels is here for close listeners. Over intercom, someone calls for a General Syndulla, aka Hera Syndulla, from the TV show. There is also a call for one Captain Antilles, the captain of the ill-fated Tantive IV. Hera’s droid Chopper also makes a brief appearance.
As with the Death Star, Yavin Base is littered with familiar hardware: X-Wing fighters, pilots, ground crew, and so forth, which all makes sense, given that the film precedes A New Hope.
Battle of Scarif
When the battle over Scarif heats up, we’re treated to a number of cool cameos. As our sister site Polygon pointed out, there space battle features a number of female pilots, which is a welcome change from what we saw in A New Hope.
Blue Squadron’s appearance is a nod to fans of behind-the-scenes tweaks. In the original A New Hope screenplay, the fighter squadron that takes on the Death Star was Blue Squadron, but according to The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, George Lucas changed the name to Red. (The novelization came out before the changes were made, and has the squadron as its original color).
Blue Squadron isn’t the only squad to make an appearance: Rogue One also brings in the original Red Squadron and Gold Squadron, the two units that survived to hit the Death Star. The original pilots, such as Red and Gold Leaders, appear for battle. There’s even a quasi-explanation for why Luke ended up as Red Five: the original Red Five perished over Scarif.
During the Battle, several classic ships fill the sky. The Hammerhead cruiser, which is used to ram a crippled Imperial Star Destroyer, was first seen in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. There’s another reference to Ghost, the main starship in Rebels.
On the ground on Scarif, the Imperial contains a number of droids, including another RA-7 droid, and in the background comes the chirping of a Mouse Droid. The Rebel soldiers on the ground share some similar helmets to their counterparts who appear in Return of the Jedi.
Finally, there’s the big final reveal of the film. The rebels steal the plans and get them aboard the Rebellion flagship, only to get cut down by Darth Vader. They get the plans onto the Tantive IV, where a rebel officer hands them off to none other than Princess Leia, just as the ship jumps off to its next destination, Tatooine. The scene also provides some continuity, showing us the familiar uniforms of the Rebel troopers and the hallways of the starship.
Gareth Edwards noted that he made a cameo himself at some point in the film. There’s likely other cameos and nods that we’ll see in the coming months. What else did you spy?