There are no shortages of shocking moments in Rogue One, but there are familiar faces aplenty, too. A bevy of original Star Wars characters appear in Rogue One not only in service of the plot, but also arguably in service of the massive Star Wars fandom. While a majority of the famous Star Wars characters that appear in Rogue One are from the original Star Wars trilogy (one, alternatively, comes to us from the prequels), there is no doubt in my mind that their inclusion in Rogue One is a serious delight for Star Wars fans old and new. Major SPOILERS ahead.
For those who worry that the reappearance of these older characters, now mainstays in the Star Wars canon, have been somehow shoehorned into Rogue One, fear not. Their inclusion actually makes complete and total sense for the Rogue One story when you consider the timeline of the Star Wars films. Rogue One fits rather snugly between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode VI: A New Hope (remember: the first three episodes were made between 1999 and 2005, acting as prequels to the original trilogy, made between 1977 and 1983). As such, Rogue One could be considered a literal prologue to A New Hope, so it makes sense that many of the characters first introduced in A New Hope would be moving and shaking in Rogue One.
Mon Mothma, the Loyalist leader of the Galactic Senate appears in a younger form in Rogue One. She is one of the few women in the film and appears a few times to serve as the final voice on whether Rebellion plans will go ahead. Ever the rebel at heart, it is implied that she approves of Jyn's choice to disobey popular opinion and invade Scarif.
Senator Bail Organa
Grand Moff Tarkin
While the actor who originated the role of Grand Moff Tarkin, Peter Cushing, died before Rogue One was even in the Star Wars conversation, he does reappear in full CGI form. He's the main opponent of Orson Krennic, an inexhaustibly ambitious man, and we get to see him command Krennic to test the Death Star's powers.
We knew Darth Vader would appear in Rogue One, thanks to his cameo in the film's trailer. In fact, Darth Vader appears a few times. We see him emerge from his preservation chambers, where he is hooked up to a breathing apparatus and encased in some sort of life-enhancing liquid. He then goes to confer with Orson Krennic, in his iconic suit. Finally, we see him tracking Jyn and Cassian on Scarif and then battling the Rebel fighters, lightsaber in hand, to retrieve the Death Star plans.
Seen for a brief moment at the Rebellion's base, R2-D2 watches as the final battle of Rogue One begins, with the epic and life-changing battle on the planet Scarif.
C-3PO is fussing to R2-D2 over all of the hubbub as the fighters assemble to fight Krennic's Imperial forces and make sure the Death Star plans get into the right hands.
After Darth Vader takes down a team of Rebels fighting to get the Death Star plans back to headquarters, we get perhaps the biggest surprise appearance of them all: Princess Leia. The plans are placed in her hands and as she turns around to the camera, we see Leia almost just as she is in A New Hope. (Undoubtedly, some ILM magic CGI'd its way to this young vision of Carrie Fisher.) Ending with her reveal was literally the perfect way to finish Rogue One.
All this Rogue One talk has me excited to see it again, if only to revisit these familiar faces. I'll forever be thankful that the Rogue One creators decided to bring them back for one heck of a standalone film.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; Giphy (6)