The entirety of Rogue One leads up to one very specific goal: steal the Imperial plans for the Death Star. The Rebels, led by Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, are steadfast and determined, and, based on what we know from Episode IV — A New Hope, successful. In Rogue One, fans got to see how the Rebels acquired the plans for the Death Star, and — spoiler alert — I'm willing to bet nobody thought a beautiful beachside planet would be involved Because the planet has never been featured in a Star Wars film before, even Star Wars fanatics were wondering what planet the Rogue One beach battle is on.
Glimpsed briefly in the trailers, the climactic battle in Rogue One takes place on a vast, beach-covered planet that would be the perfect galactic vacation spot were it not for the deadly war. Sandy beaches and palm trees help set the scene for a picturesque Star Wars planet, but, unfortunately, by the time our Rebels get there, the planet known as Scarif is no longer a place to unwind. Since the rise of the Empire, Scarif has become an imperial military base protected by deflector shields and a huge army of Imperial soldiers and Storm Troopers.
The official Star Wars website describes Scarif as the "principal construction facility for the vast Imperial war machine." And it is at Scarif that the Empire has stored all of their plans, including those of the Death Star. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rogue One co-producer John Swartz spoke about the importance of the planet to the Empire. "It's part of their military industrial complex.... It's the site of research, structural engineering, munitions and manufacturing, all rolled into one facility," Swartz explained.
Other than Scarif's crucial role in Rogue One, fans know relatively little about the planet. However, it does have some interesting connections to other, previously established planets in the Star Wars universe. According to Inverse, Scarif is in the Outer Rims of the Galaxy, not far from Tatooine, the home planet to both Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Furthermore, Scarif was designed as a tropical planet to both compliment A New Hope and provide a slight contrast. "You've got your desert planet, your ice planet... The idea of a tropical island-ike look felt like paradise and was a really good contrast to A New Hope," director Gareth Edwards said in an interview with Ain't It Cool.
It's unclear what happens to Scarif at the end of Rogue One. The Imperial base is destroyed by the Death Star, but what effect that has on the planet as a whole is unclear. I would assume destroying an entire city/base would have some serious structural repercussions for a planet, but regardless, it's not likely that we'll ever find out. Oh, Scarif, you gorgeous planet, you — we'll always have Rogue One.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; fysw/tumblr (2)