To lead a bunch of misfits in a daring mission, you have to be the biggest misfit of them all. But that probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to Jyn Erso, the lead character of the upcoming standalone Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Played by actress Felicity Jones, Jyn reluctantly steps into the limelight of the galactic saga much like the other rebellious personas at the heart of the Star Wars universe. But she isn’t the Chosen One like Luke Skywalker and isn’t a scavenger out searching for her true potential like Rey from The Force Awakens.
Jyn’s place in Rogue One is as unique as the spin-off itself. Both the character and the movie she leads are connected in equally vague but recognizable ways to traits and locations from the broader saga. She’s brand new, but utterly at home in the Star Wars milieu even if she and the movie she’s in try as hard as they can to stand out.
The same could be said about Jones, who dipped her toes into blockbuster filmmaking by appearing in films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Ron Howard’s Inferno. Before Rogue One, her biggest break came from The Theory of Everything, the Stephen Hawking biopic that nabbed her an Oscar nom as Jane Hawking. But she’s poised to break out in a big way in the galaxy far, far away.
So don’t be confused when the lights dim and you go check out Rogue One with the millions of Star Wars fans on December 16. Here’s a refresher on all you need to know about the first standalone movie’s newest heroine.
She Was Taken From Her Family on a Planet Called Lah’mu
The Rogue One tie-in novel Catalyst basically sets the stage as the lead-in for the upcoming movie by showing the early years of the Empire. It tells the backstory of Jyn’s father, the brilliant pacifist scientist Galen Erso, and how he was coerced into helping the Empire create the technology needed by his villainous former best friend, Director Orson Krennic, to power the Empire’s superweapon: the Death Star.
Galen, who lives a peaceful life with his wife Lyra and his young daughter Jyn, is forced to go on the lam, and is whisked off Coruscant to a safe haven planet called Lah’mu by none other than Rebel freedom fighter Saw Gerrera, who will come back later on-screen in Rogue One.
This backstory is worthy, if not totally necessary information to know as Rogue One opens with the Ersos — with Jyn roughly around 15 years of age — in hiding. As Catalyst author James Luceno told StarWars.com the family makes “an interesting team and I wanted to show that team, because both Galen and Lyra play an important role in who Jyn becomes.”
Their memory, especially of her potentially Force-sensitive mother, is important because Jyn becomes separated from her mother and father early in Rogue One when Krennic comes looking for Galen. Jyn is left to fend for herself when Krennic possibly kills Lyra and presumably arrests Galen to force into service.
She is Captured by the Rebel Alliance
A decade or two later, after scraping by as a scrappy orphan, Jyn is picked up by Imperial forces for some kind of illegal discretion and thrown into the slammer, only to be sprung by the Rebels and brought to their main headquarters on Yavin 4. But they’re not letting her off the hook quite yet.
Per the first teaser, she has quite a rap sheet: forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest. But, unbeknownst to her and luckily for the Rebels, they heard from her dear old dad and she’s the key to helping them out.
Somehow, Galen has sent a covert transmission to Rebel forces indicating that a major weapons test was about to occur, aka the Death Star is almost fully armed and operational enough to blow up planets at will. Since they have this mystery scientist-turned-Imperial insider’s daughter in their custody with some legal blunders on her record, they give her an ultimatum: Go on a mission to use her connections to steal the plans to the Death Star for the Rebel cause.
As Jones told Glamour, Jyn is a “rather beautiful blend of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.” She can’t help but get into daring adventures and accepts the challenge.
She Attempts to Reconnect with Saw Gerrera on Jedha
Jyn joins up with Rebel officer Cassian Andor and high-tails it to Jedha, a former Jedi holy site now used by the Empire to mine kyber crystals, the highly potent resource they use to power the Death Star laser.
After getting into some Imperial entanglements in their recruitment, including getting in touch with local insurgent fighter Saw Gerrera, anti-Imperial allies Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus join in the fun just as the Krennic tests the Death Star’s laser functions on Jedha starting with where the rebels are hiding.
After That, You’ll Have to Wait to Watch the Whole Movie
Gerrera likely doesn’t make it out alive, but their entire crew, which also features an Imperial double agent and former pilot named Bodhi Rook, eventually makes it to the planet Scarif, the base of the Empire’s military operations and home to the Death Star schematics. And then … who knows?
Because we’re going on our best, very educated guesses here despite the fact that untold amounts of footage of Rogue One has been released in trailers, TV spots, behind the scenes videos, and clips, we can’t really make out anything more definitive than that. Hopefully Rogue One has more tricks up its sleeve, like how Galen’s secluded the rocky Imperial outpost on a planet called Eadu fits into the equation. But we do know that Jyn eventually faces the challenge head on, hopefully becoming an equally admired protagonist befitting of the Star Wars saga whether she survives or not.