With a new Star Wars film comes the great Easter Egg hunt, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does not disappoint. The film, directly connected to both the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy (the latter a little more closely, since it's literally pulled from the opening crawl of the first Star Wars), plays host to tons of Easter Eggs and references from throughout the franchise.
There are character cameos, lines of dialogue, nods to animated series and novels and more. It's probably impossible to catch everything in there, especially in one viewing, but here's everything we caught so far.
The Tilt UP
Rogue One is only the second film in the franchise history to begin with a tilt up instead of a tilt down. The first was Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, while all six other films tilt down after the opening crawl. Of course, this movie also has no opening crawl.
A Homemade Star Wars Doll
Just like in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jyn makes her own Star Wars doll to play with. In The Force Awakens, a homemade Rebel Pilot doll can be seen in the hollowed out AT-At walker that Rey calls home on Jakku. In Rogue One, young Jyn has a homemade stormtrooper doll, that looks like it's been beat up, as the future Rebel took some frustration out on it.
Galen Erso calls Jyn "Stardust," which winds up being a very pivotal plot point. That nickname from father to daughter first appeared in the novel Catalyst, by James Luceno. The nickname referred to her eyes. An excerpt from the novel explains:
"She’s beautiful,” he said, inspecting her face. “Her eyes have changed color.”
Lyra nodded. “They’re sort of flecked.”
“Stardust,” Galen said. “That’s what’s in her eyes.”
Looking Out at the Horizon
When Galen Erso looks out at the horizon in the prologue, he's standing right next to a spire - the shot is a clear homage to the famous "binary sunset" scene from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, when Luke Skywalker is about to embark on his adventure, easily one of the most iconic and recognizable single shots in film history.
Bail Organa and the Force Theme
Bail Organa appears in the film twice, played once again by Jimmy Smits, reprising his role from the prequels (he has also voiced the character on the animated series Star Wars Rebels). The first time he appears it's an Easter Egg within an Easter Egg - though he's silent, and frankly kind of creepy-lurking in the shadows, when he emerges the Force Theme plays, marking one of the most explicit uses of John Williams-composed music in the film.
Ponda Baba and Doctor Cornelius Evazan
Hey, those guys on the streets of Jedha look familiar! That's because they're Ponda Baba and Doctor Cornelius Evazan. The characters famously appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, antagonizing Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Cantina at Mos Eisley. The encounter didn't go well, losing Baba an arm for his friend's harrassment. Robot Chicken did an excellent bit of backstory sketch for the pair that you should watch if you haven't already.
Governor or Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin has more than just a cameo, playing a role in the film as an antagonist to the antagonist. The rivalry between Tarkin and Director Orson Krennic is touched on in the film, but more explicitly fleshed out in the pages of Catalyst. Through ILM's computerized magic, Peter Cushing, the deceased actor who played the role in the original Star Wars, returns, lending his visage to the film courtesy of his estate.
"Guardians of the Whills"
Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus are described as former "Guardians of the Whills." That's referring to early drafts of Star Wars, which was initially referred to as "taken from the Journal of the Whills." It has referred to the Force itself, and also to beings who were deeply entrenched with the Force. It also makes the pair instantly and deeply tied to Star Wars mythology, like some of the best lines do.
In A New Hope, a friendly game of holochess on the Millennium Falcon leads to us learning that we should always let the wookiee win. In the "Cantina" scene of Rogue One we see some patrons playing the analog version, and they're using actual clay figures of the diminutive monsters. Adorable.
"It's a Trap!"
Saw Gerrera exclaims "It's a trap!" and it's impossible for Star Wars fans to not think of the first time they heard the phrase on screen. In Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, the Mon Calamari Rebel leader Admiral Ackbar famously uttered those words - and in association with an attack on the Death Star (the second one) no less. Voice actor Erik Bauersfeld, who voiced Ackbar, died earlier this year, so this may have been an intentional tribute to him.
A Broken Vader
We see Darth Vader's un-armored body in Rogue One, something we never saw in the original trilogy. We did, however, see that in the prequel trilogy, when Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith showed us exactly why he needed that life support armor.
When the camera goes close-up on Darth Vader's visage, we can clearly see red lenses in the helmet. That's a nod to A New Hope, which featured the red eye glass, where subsequent appearances did not (he is seen with the red lenses on Star Wars Rebels in animation, as well). A nice way to tie the film much more closely to the first Star Wars, despite some other slight costume changes that VFX Supervisor and EP John Knoll explained to ComicBook.com during the press junket weekend.
General Syndulla, Please Report
If you listen closely at the Rebel Base at Yavin, you can hear an audio cue over the intercom that nods nicely to current animated series Star Wars Rebels.
"General Syndulla, please report," you'll hear. There are two Syndullas that could be referring to. It could be mentioning Hera Syndulla, the pilot of the Ghost and member of Phoenix Squadron, getting a promotion here. Or it could be that Hera doesn't survive, and her father Cham Syndulla joins up in earnest with the Rebellion. Sorry, this doesn't make for confirmation that Hera survives the events of the Rebels series, as much as we'd like to take it that way.
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-him moment also on Yavin at the Rebel Base, Chopper, the lovable grumpy droid from Star Wars Rebels appears. Seriously, it's a very quick cameo, so don't blink at all when you're watching the movie. NO BLINKING.
"I've got a bad feeling about..."
K-2SO does the honors of uttering one of the most famous (and certainly most frequently used) lines in Star Wars history, as characters have been expressing the bad feelings they have about this for decades. Unfortunately, he's cut off by Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso mid-line. Spoilsports.
Some familiar droids!
Barely an Easter Egg, but certainly a cameo, R2-D2 and C-3PO, the only characters to appear on screen in every Star Wars film, make their requisite appearance at the base at Yavin. Even at the press screening, people cheered for their brief moment.
The third and final Star Wars Rebels reference we caught was the Ghost, their vehicle in the show, right there in the big space battle over Scarif. You can see the Ghost in the initial shot of the Rebel fleet, and multiple times flying around in battle, another indication that hopefully Hera is alive and flying it well.
Gold Leader, Standing By
Yes! The Gold Leader seen in Rogue One is the same Gold Leader at the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. The character Jon Vander held the designation in both battles, it seems. Vander, incidentally, is from Onderon, the same planet as Saw Gerrera.
Project Stellar Sphere, Black Saber, etc.
The other project names that Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor see when they're searching for the Death Star plan files offer up some Easter Eggs. "Project Stellar Sphere" was the codename for the energy analysis of the Kyber Crystals project that Galen Erso was on in the novel Catalyst. Several components of the Death Star were worked on in secret in that manner, often with no knowledge they were actually working on the mega weapon. Black Saber may be a little nod to the Darksaber, or could be about another project altogether; those project names all could be used for future stories.
Leia and the Tantive IV
Princess Leia appears in her signature ship, the Tantive IV, at the end of the film, bringing the story full circle. There will probalby be some debate over how she was included and presented, but she's there none-the-less.
As always, Lucasfilm went to their pals and long-term voice actors for some ADR, adding in the voices of the stormtroopers and random members of the Rebel Alliance. That included David Collins, who has done both audio and voice work for Lucasfilm (and the former Lucas Arts) for years, Steve Blum, who currently voices Zeb on Star Wars Rebels (and does trooper and rebel voices there, as well), Dave Filoni, the showrunner of Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars before it, and Tony Gilroy, brother of John Gilroy who edited Rogue One (and also did some ADR), and producer of Nightcrawler, a film starring Riz Ahmed. Clone Wars veterans Fred Tatasciore, James Arnold Taylor, Sam Witwer (also on Rebels of course), Matthew Wood, and Tom Kane were all voices in teh film, as well. Vanessa Marshall, who plays Hera on Rebels (see earlier possible Easter Egg) is credited as an additional voice, too.
David Ankrum, an ADR voice actor from A New Hope, voiced the Yavin intercorm in teh film. The rest of the full list, in alphabetical order:
David Acord, Steve Bardack, Verona Blue, Dave Boat, Eugene Byrd, David Cowgill, Jonathan Dixon, Michael Donovan, Terri Douglas, Robin Atkin Downes, Michael Giacchino (composer of the film), Tom Harrison-Read, Kevin Hickman, Karen Huie, Lex Lang, Vanessa Lengies, Yuri Lowenthal, Alexi Melvin, Flora Miller, William M. Patrick, Christopher Scarabosio, Orly Schuchmacher, Kat Sheridan, Christian Simpson, David Sobolov, Julian Stone, and John Swartz.