Lieutenant Commander Orson Krennic, the main baddie in Rogue One, is a different kind of Star Wars villain. Based on his background, he might be one of the most truly evil characters Star Wars has ever seen.
The prequel book Rogue One: Catalyst gives us a deeper look at who Orson Krennic is and what he stands for. For the most part, he only cares about himself, and he does whatever he can to advance his status in the Galactic Republic-turned-Empire. He staked his reputation on completing the Death Star, because he was so certain it was going to elevate him in the Empire. When the plan failed because of his arrogance, he was humiliated, and Rogue One appears to be Krennic trying to finish what he started. He doe it not out of allegiance, but out of pride.
From his early college days at the Futures Program with Galen Erso (Jyn Erso’s genius father), he was the kind of person who liked to show off in the classroom. But, when that wasn’t enough, Krennic dropped out and joined the military, scheming to find his way into Palpatine’s good graces. Galen was his hot ticket.
Once Krennic learned the Republic was working on a Death Star, based on blueprints they acquired from the Separatists, he immediately positioned himself to be the champion who would get the laser operational. He did this by essentially promising them Galen, a pacifist who didn’t want to help either side during the Clone Wars. Since Galen wanted no part in the conflict, Krennic disguised himself as an employee of his parent company to sneak him off a planet where he’d been taken capture. Afterward, Krennic spent years building Galen’s trust while undermining him (and everyone else who stood in his way) at every opportunity.
How can you describe all the horrible things Krennic does in Catalyst? After the Clone Wars ended, he manufactured a fake uprising to justify occupying a planet for political gain. He sent away Galen’s wife Lyra Erso (along with Jyn) on some made-up expedition to get her out of the way, then later threatened her safety if she didn’t stay in line. He massacred an entire research station when they started questioning the Death Star project. Without telling his superiors, Krennic built a secret research facility that ended up exploding, killing 10,000 people. What’s worse, he blamed the explosion on his same made-up rebellion, and showed Galen the wreckage as proof that he needed to worker harder on the kyber crystal laser, which totally worked.
Through it all, the theme that lingered for Orson Krennic was pride, and not in a sense that he’s proud of his accomplishments but that he needs to feel proud to feel worthwhile. One of the most poignant moments was when Krennic and the Special Weapons Group were secretly testing the laser with a Star Destroyer. Even though he wasn’t the person designated to do the firing countdown, Krennic did it anyway, because he wanted the glory in that moment. It speaks to who Krennic wants to be, the person in charge, even if he has to lie and kill in order to make it happen.
Of course, by the end of the novel, Galen and Lyra have figured out Krennic’s plan, so they escape the planet and go into hiding. As a result, Krennic is demoted, something he pleads against … as news of it would filter through the ranks, humiliating him. This informs his path in Rogue One, as the latest international trailer shows him recapturing Galen Erso in order to finish the work they started together all those years ago. Orson Krennic may not have the Force, like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, nor does he have an entire army of stormtroopers at his disposal, like Palpatine or General Hux, but he’s definitely a Star Wars villain worth his salt. It’ll be amazing to see what terrible things he does next in Rogue One, all in the name of glory.