Easter eggs are a big deal with any Star Wars movie, but especially with Rogue One. It’s got serious links to the original 1977 movie, not to mention director Gareth Edwards is a huge fan so it's packed with cool references and nods. While I’m not going to list every obvious cameo (Darth Vader) and prop (Death Star) in this feature, now that the movie is available on Digital Download, there's some slightly more subtle Star Wars references worth talking about. Did you spot the blue milk? Who used the Red Five call sign before Luke? What does it say on Jyn's necklace? Find out about these Easter eggs and more below.
Erm… Rogue One
The biggest and best Star Wars Easter egg in Rogue One is… erm, Rogue One? Come on, you know what I mean, the whole movie is basically an homage/reference/nod to the movie franchise. It literally wouldn’t exist without A New Hope, which makes it the best Easter egg in the history of cinema.
BB-8 cameo (kind of)
The team behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens' lovable BB-8 also operate the droid at the beginning of Rogue One - the one working near the Erso family home when Krennic lands? It's more of a behind-the-scenes team cameo but it's good to know Star Wars keeps things in the family.
We knew that the necklace Jyn's mother gives her just before she's killed is made from kyber crystals - the material used to create lightsabers - but did you know that the markings on it actually say 'Force' in Aurebesh, the written transcript of the Galactic Basic language used in the Star Wars universe?
Who could forget the blue milk from A New Hope? Obviously, not Gareth Edwards as there’s a jug of it in the Erso kitchen, which you’ll see when Lyra Erso runs to call Saw Gerrera and tell him that Krennic has found them. Or maybe it’s just a blue Curaçao cocktail?
Jyn is so Star Wars she carries her own Easter egg around with her. Or at least, little Jyn does. At the beginning of Rogue One, when Krennic descends on the Erso household her send his Deathtroopers to try and find Jyn so that he can hold her hostage. While searching one of the Deathtroopers find a doll that looks a lot like a Stormtrooper. I’m guessing he made the connection.
Bail Prestor Organa
Normally, I wouldn’t say the appearance of an original Star Wars actor in Rogue One is an Easter egg because… well, it’s a Star Wars movie, but there was something about the way Bail Prestor Organa steps forward during Jyn’s first meeting with the Rebels. He doesn’t even say anything, he just suddenly steps into the light and you can hear the original Star Wars score playing in the background. Edwards might as well of added a giant neon sign pointing at Jimmy Smits’s head saying ‘EASTER EGG, EASTER EGG!’
Star Wars Rebels name drop
At one point, when Jyn and Cassian are walking through the Rebel Base on Yavin 4, you overhear a intercom call for General Syndulla who's a female Twi'lek Rebel played by Vanessa Marshall in the Star Wars Rebel TV series.
During Director Krennic rather intense conversation with Grand Moff Tarkin, the latter suggests a test of the Death Star is required. While it transpires that he isn’t referring to Alderaan (yet), the reference to A New Hope is obvious.
As Cassian and Jyn are trying to escape the Empire’s forces on Jedha, Cassian runs ahead only to be faced by a bunch of Stormtroopers. Turning around and running back past Jyn, he yells: “This way!” Remind you of a certain scoundrel who also changed direction when faced with overwhelming odds?
"You'll be dead!"
Remember the two thugs who tried to pick a fight with Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope? It seems they’re easily antagonised as they also turn up in Rogue One to start something with Jyn. As Jyn and Cassian are walking through Jedha, melty-faced Cornelius Evazan bashes into her and turns around yelling, “Watch yourself!” before Cassian drags Jyn away. Presumably, they get off world before Jedha is destroyed… maybe that’s why they’re so cranky when Luke meets them in Episode 4!
Twi'lek slave dancer
When Jyn and co. enter Saw Gerrera’s den there’s a familiar feel to the hideout that will no doubt remind you of Jabba’s court in Return of the Jedi. As if to proved this point, a few of the Rebels are watching a small hologram of Twi'lek slave dancer as entertainment.
You might have spotted than a few other Rebels were playing a game of Dejarik - the holographic chess-like game that featured in A New Hope and The Force Awakens. It’s a slightly less hi-tech version though with the rebels using physical models rather than holograms.
This is less of an Easter egg and more of a holy-crap-what-an-amazing-reference scene, but there’s no way I couldn’t include it. Once the Council decides not to go to Scarif to find the Death Star plans, Mon Mothma takes Bail Prestor Organa to one side to ask him if his “Jedi friend” might be able to help. Bail talks about how his ‘friend’ served him well during the Clone Wars and has been laying low ever since. Yes, that’s right, he’s talking about Obi-Wan Kenobi! Bail says he will return to Alderaan (*sob*) to tell his people that war is inevitable and send a message to his friend. Mon Mothma warns him to use someone he trusts, at which point he turns around and proclaims: “I’d trust her with my life,” referring to his adoptive daughter, Princess Leia.
It wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without a “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” line, and, quite fittingly, we almost get one in Rogue One. When Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO are infiltrating the tower at Scarif, Alan Tudyk’s sassy droid starts the famous line, but gets interrupted by a door closing. Turns out he was right to have that feeling, too. *Sadface*
C-3PO and R2-D2
In one of the most obvious cameos/Easter eggs of the movie, C-3PO and R2-D2 make an appearance as the Rebel fleet take off from Yavin 4 to go and help the Rogue One team on Scarif. It’s just a small moment as C-3PO quips, “No one tells me anything,” but a welcome one as the droids have been in every Star Wars movie so far now.
One of the pilots who dies during the Battle of Scarif uses the call sign Red Five, later used by Luke Skywalker in A New Hope. Knowing that someone had that name before him, and that they gave their life to secure the Death Star plans, gives Luke’s first shot at the Death Star more meaning. Better yet, some of the Red Squadron pilots are exactly the same people from A New Hope: old footage was used to integrate pilots from the original Gold and Red Squadrons in Episode 4. Also, the team that gets trapped beneath the shield is Blue Squadron - who you won’t remember from a New Hope, because they’d just been annihilated. They turn up again in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but not in the same configuration.
It’s the only planet that isn’t named in the film, but Darth Vader’s tower of Sauron-looking castle is on almost certainly on the lava-covered planet of Mustafar - the same place that Obi-Wan fought (and maimed) Anakin Skywalker. We also see Vader soaking in the famous Star Wars bacta tank, which we first saw in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a bit late for that, Vades.
Also, while Darth Vader’s fortress had a distinct LOTRs feeling to it, it’s actually based on some original The Empire Strikes Back concept art by artist Ralph McQuarrie. While George Lucas eventually scrapped it from Episode 5, it finally made its big screen debut in Rogue One.
Less of an Easter egg and more of a cool mirroring of scenes, but the space battle that occurs above Scarif in Rogue One is eerily similar to the one that happens above Endor in The Return of the Jedi. I could almost hear Lando yelling: “That thing’s operational!”
Gareth Edwards hasn’t forgotten about the Star Wars Rebels TV show either. While we don’t see any Lothal rebels, there is a ship during the Battle of Scarif which looks a lot like the Ghost. Ok, so there might be more than one refit VCX-100 light freighters in the Rebel fleet, but it’s a nice little nod to the show. Also, did you hear the reference to General Syndulla on the intercom on Yavin IV?
While Jyn and Cassin are trying to find the Death Star plans in the Scarif archives, one of the files they come across is called “Black Sabre”, which could be a reference to the Darksaber, a black-bladed lightsaber which features in The Clone Wars TV show.
Gareth Edwards cameo
Director Gareth Edwards couldn't resist having a cameo in the movie, but it's unlikely you'll have spotted him, despite his prominence. He appears as a Rebel solider - well, he did say he always wanted to join the Rebel Alliance - during the final battle sequence where Darth Vader is carving a path through the Rebels to try and get the Death Star plans back. Remember the solider who took the plans from his fellow Rebel through the stuck door and then proceeded to run through another door before tripping and then turning back to close it behind him? Yeah, that was Gareth Edwards.