The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh episode in a four-decade-long film saga, was the main event for Disney’s revival of the franchise, a multi-billion dollar gamble that’s so far paid off handsomely. Part of the studio’s plan, now that the film series has been wrested from George Lucas’s grasp, is to give audiences a new Star Wars story every year, even if they’re not directly connected to the ongoing series. Rogue One (subtitled A Star Wars Story), due out this Christmas, is the first such effort, and from the teaser trailer released today, it looks like an extremely appetizing side dish.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, who successfully revamped Godzilla to critical acclaim in 2014, Rogue One is being described as a sci-fi heist movie, set before the original 1977 Star Wars and following the Rebel spies who stole the plans to the Empire’s Death Star (the ones R2-D2 carries around at Princess Leia’s behest). It exists in the margins of the main series, but that could be freeing: Rogue One doesn’t need to adhere to decades of continuity or set up several future sequels, and it still gets to exploit the powerful nostalgia of the Star Wars world and all of its grimy detail. Best of all, like The Force Awakens, it’s got an exciting, diverse cast at its disposal, with a compelling female lead.