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Why the Star Destroyer looks different in the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer

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Of course you've already watched the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer, so let's assume you care about the roughly two minutes of footage enough to speculate on the big question at its heart: why are the Star Destroyers so starchy white?

I have two theories. The first, frankly, is a trifle: The Star Destroyer is white, instead of the murky grey of the Star Destroyers in the original trilogy, because white was largely used by the costume designers and scenic artists of the 1970's science-fiction cinema. To capture the classic look, the creators of Rogue One have slightly altered the original look of the Star Destroyer paradoxically to make the aesthetic feel more like a throwback. The white Star Destroyer is closer to our mental image of the classic Star Destroyer than the real thing.

The Star Destroyer isn't dirty yet

My second theory is, I believe, far more likely to be correct. In short: all Star Destroyers are initially painted white. The Imperial leaders know this is misguided and will end poorly, but misguided decisions that end poorly is their modus operandi — see the Death Star floating behind the Star Destroyers. Like wearing white slacks to a Puddle of Mudd concert set on an actual puddle of mud, the white Star Destroyers are immediately stained by space debris and harsh UV-rays from close proximity to actual stars they destroy, giving them their familiar muted-grey hue.

Here's the Star Destroyer from Rogue One, presumably entering space for the very first time. Somewhere inside the Death Star, a giddy Darth Vader is holding a half-broken bottle of champagne.

Here's the Star Destroyer from The Empire Strikes Back, which takes place very shortly after Rogue One. I will speculate this is the same Star Destroyer, recently dirtied by space gunk.

And here's the Star Destroyer from The Force Awakens, which takes places decades after both films. Look how dirty it is! Dirty, dirty, dirty!

Some further evidence my theory is correct: Star Destroyers are too large to fit inside car washes. Have you ever seen a white Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera go a few weeks without a wash? It's dirtier than Garbage Compactor 3263827.

Why not repaint the Star Destroyer? I asked resident Star Wars expert Rich McCormick this question. "Booster Terrik tried to paint his red," says Rich, "and he said the cost of the paint would be more than the Destroyer." I will caveat Rich's point with the fact that classic Star Wars fiction is no longer canon, and Rich's dedicated loyalty and passion is now untethered from the very thing he loves. I'm sorry, Rich.

The one last piece of evidence we believe comes from Star Wars Complete Vehicles. This is a dissection of a Star Destroyer. The right side of the craft is grey and grimy, as it appears in the original trilogy. The left side, which peels back the layers of the Star Destroyer is – yes, you are seeing that correctly – white.

I rest my case.

For more on Star Wars trailers, watch this feature on how The Force Awakens teaser changed movie trailers