Thought you knew all the Star Wars secrets of Rogue One? Think again. The recently released Rogue One: The Utimate Visual Guide, written by Lucasfilm Story Group executive and master of canon Pablo Hidalgo, includes a ton of new facts about the Star Wars universe—some cool, some surprising, and some completely messed up.
Much as we did for The Force Awakens, we mined the guidebook for all the facts and secrets that didn’t make it on screen... or the prequel novel... or anywhere else. Remember, this is all 100 percent canon. One note, though: Once you discover “The Decraniated,” Star Wars might never look exactly the same again.
Star Wars Rebels first introduced “Fulcrum” as the codename of ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano as a secret agent for the burgeoning Rebellion. But “Fulcrum” is much more than just Ahsoka—the callsign is a position, not a single person, and it turns out that Rogue One’s Cassian is one such Rebel officer who served in the role. The guide refers to one of Cassian’s operational aliases as being “Fulcrum,” a “Recruitment agent in the Albarrio sector.” Given his ties to Rebel Intelligence, presumably Cassian would adopt the name to bring more agents into the wider network of operatives.
Despite being lead by senators, the Star Wars movies do little to show that the Rebel Alliance is more than a military faction, but it turns out that the Alliance hierarchy has two separate branches: High Command, the military wing of interconnected rebel cells, and the Civil Government, lead by Mon Mothma as its Chief of State and governed by a cabinet of six ministers, former members of the disbanded Imperial Senate.
We meet some of those ministers in Rogue One, aside from Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. There’s Senator Nower Jebel of Uyter, the Minister of Finance; Senator Vasp Vaspar of the Taldot sector, the Minister of Industry; and Senator Tynnra Pamlo of Taris (a planet familiar to fans of the beloved Knights of the Old Republic video game series), the Minister of Education. The guide doesn’t specific the final minister.
One of the tricky things about prequels is introducing new elements that conveniently then disappear in their successors—and while the Empire has got the convenient excuse of having blown up its Shoretroopers and TIE Strikers on Scarif with the Death Star, the Rebels need a slightly more longwinded explanation for as to why you don’t see U-Wings flying around in the original Star Wars trilogy.
As it turns out, there simply weren’t many of them in the first place. Designed by Incom, the same ship manufacturer that created the X-Wing as a potential starfighter for the Imperial Navy, the U-Wing was the corporation’s last starfighter released before it was nationalized by the Empire, and only received a limited production run. Bail Organa managed to snag a few, donating them to the Alliance as a handful of extra support craft. What we see in Rogue One are likely all the U-Wings the Rebellion possessed.
While The Force Awakens introduced the Church of the Force—a religious organization that, while made up of people who weren’t necessarily force sensitive, followed the teachings left behind by the Jedi Order—it turns out there are more Force-based religions floating around on Jedha, even if the Empire frowns upon such spirituality.
Alongside the Guardians of the Whills that Chirrut and Baze are associated with, the guide mentions several religious groups that see Jedha as a sacred place. There are the Disciples of the Whills (who are presumably protected by the Guardians), the oldest faith on Jedha; the Brotherhood of the Beatific Countenance, an order of silent, concealed monks; and the Clan of the Toribota, less of a religious organization but one that believes Jedha is a spiritually significant planet as its star was purportedly the first star seen by its ancestors.
We don’t know much of how the Imperial occupation led to mass defections of Mon Calamari to the Alliance Navy, but Rogue One’s visual guide offers an intriguing hint as to how the aquatic race gifted a significant amount of capital ships to the Alliance so quickly—the Mon Calamari fleets are actually bits of Mon Calamari cities.
Preparing for the worst with the rise of the Empire, several Mon Calamari cities jettisoned buildings into deep space, that had actually been converted into transports containing thousands of Mon Calamari refugees. Hidden away from the Imperials, the Mon Calamari re-tweaked the transport-buildings into armed capital ships, joining the Alliance to form a major part of their fleet. Fun fact: Admiral Raddus’ ship in Rogue One, named the Profundity, was originally the civic governance tower of the northern Mon Calamari city Nystullum, and Raddus was actually the city’s mayor before joining the Alliance. Brings a whole new meaning to Admiral Ackbar’s flagship being called Home One, doesn’t it?
Ever since Attack of the Clones included the bombshell that the Separatists were the ones who originated plans for the Death Star, fans have wondered how the battlestation went from Geonosian idea to Imperial crown jewel. Turns out, it involves a lot of dead bug people.
When the Geonosians first started planning to build a separatist superweapon powered by a kyber crystal weapon, it was largely kept secret, until Geonosian ruler Poggle the Lesser was captured by Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. After the Clone Wars came to an end and the Empire rose, Wilhuff Tarkin learned of the theoretical weapon and became enamored with it, championing it to Palpatine (who, of course, just so happened to have the Geonosians’ original plans thanks to his alter ego as Darth Sidious). Construction of the physical frame of the weapon began over Geonosis with the help of Geonosian labor.
With the framework done, the only problem remaining was refinement of the kyber crystal energy source to power the facility’s superlaser. In order to keep the weapon secret while it worked on that conundrum, the Empire sterilized the entirety of Geonosis, wiping out its population of billions (a fact previously hinted at in Rebels and Marvel’s Darth Vader comic).
Rogue One prides itself on being a darker take on the galaxy far, far away—a more realitistic, gritty world where the line between brave rebel hero and bloody terrorist are blurred. That darker ethos also carries on into some of the amazingly metal background information in the visual guide, leading to some truly messed-up bits of scenery setting. Two favorites of mine? The first is that the Death Troopers earned their sinister name from a rumored project in Krennic’s Advanced Weapons Research division, supposedly designed about reviving necrotic flesh to fight for the Empire(space zombies!).
The second insane reveal from the Rogue One visual guide is of the “Decraniated,” a caste of cyborgs on Jedha that serve a variety of roles on the planet—gruesomely created out of horrendously wounded people who are stripped of their individuality during the surgical process, which also leaves them with most of their heads missing. It’s freaky as hell.