The movie explains why the Empire would be so foolish as to create a superweapon with an obvious weakness. Galen designed it this way, with a flawed reactor begging to be exploited, and worked to keep anyone from finding out.
It's been since canonically confirmed that, indeed, Rogue Squadron was named as such as a tribute to the heroes of Rogue One.
If Saw was Jyn's guardian for a while, then it's pretty likely that he saw Steela, his late sister, in her. The both of them are Rebellious Spirits, too.
Jedha's name. Going by Star Wars naming conventions, someone from Jedha would be called... Jedhai. Hmm, I guess that's why it has massive Jedi statues and a large amount of kyber crystals (important lightsaber components) on it.
This is partially jossed (the official demonym is "Jedhan"), but there can be no coincidence that such an important city of the Force sounds like its most powerful followers.
A line at the end of the first season of Rebels refers to Mustafar as the place where Jedi go to die. The line takes on new meaning when it's revealed that Darth Vader has a citadel on the planet.
Related point: why would Vader even have a castle on the planet where he lost his limbs? Simple. The Emperor, who had him undergo his surgery without anesthesia and threw him in a suit that effectively crippled him would like to wave one more cruel thing over his head — namely, a constant reminder of his defeat at Obi-Wan's hands. Either that, or Vader himself chose the planet as his base, as a symbol of his being on top of the defeat.
If Vader chose to place the citadel on Mustafar, then he would probably have an easier time channeling Dark Side force energy. After all, the Dark Side is easier to channel through extreme emotion such as anger and despair, and what would make a person angrier than being constantly reminded of one of the worst defeats of their life and where he believes he killed his wife?
Notably, he has dammed the lava stream that disfigured him, probably to symbolically subjugate this "enemy". If one notices closely, Vader's citadel sits above a lava fall, which might even possibly be the same fall seen during the duel on Mustafar in Revenge Of The Sith. Who has the high ground now? Hell, it's possibly the same installation where the Separatist leaders were hiding in Revenge of the Sith.
Also keep in mind that there were mining facilities on Mustafar during Revenge of the Sith, and it makes sense to use a lava world for mining purposes since it provides excellent fodder for geothermal energy, as well as smelting metal. Hell, they probably dispose of things there, using the lava as a makeshift trash dump. Vader's very own castle/facility on Mustafar is probably powered by the geothermal run off, which makes it a fairly cheap way to receive Bacta treatments and recharge his suit's power core. So at least some level of pragmatism may be involved with Mustafar's use.
Another possible interpretation is that Vader chooses to live here as a form of self-induced punishment. Palpatine outright told him he was responsible for his wife's death, perhaps forcing himself to stay in the place where he suffered most as some small form of atonement. It's also been pointed out that Mustafar is where the last remnants of Anakin Skywalker died, as well as where Padmé was mortally injured. Perhaps he chooses to stay there as it's the closest he can be to her at this point.
Kieron Gillen's superlative Darth Vader series bridged the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, demonstrating that Vader's suddenly more confident, menacing role came about after finding out he had a son and finding new purpose in the quest to find said son, establish a coup within the Empire and seize control for himself. The series also includes The Emperor chewing Vader out for his lack of initiative and failure to protect the Death Star. By that logic, we can surmise that the years between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope had him passionless and demotivated - and this film gives us a glance at that. Whether it's his own decision or the Emperor's, he spends all his free time in a Bacta Tank on Mustafar because he literally has nothing else to do; he's a living weapon that the Emperor points at things to make them go away. He gets his mojo back briefly when he has the chance to intimidate/threaten/pursue/destroy things, but otherwise, without loved ones, he sees no point in making the effort.
Given the assumption that he spends whatever free time he has soaking in his bacta tank (the armor presumably being quite uncomfortable, possibly even more than strictly necessary, given his master), his choice for his fortress might also have the practical benefit of being one of the most remarkably uncomfortable places he could think of to camp out, discouraging anyone from bothering him in person.
Vader's uncharacteristic anger at the beginning of A New Hope, compared with his behaviour in the rest of the trilogy, now has some context: he's furious with the Rebels both for stealing the plans in the first place, and for slipping through his fingers when he initially tried to retrieve what they stole at the end of this film, and he's still coming down from his battle high after personally slaughtering their comrades. On top of that, their claims to be on a diplomatic mission probably struck a nerve given that Vader literally watched them take the Death Star plans onto their ship and fly off right in front of him after the battle over Scarif. They're lying straight to his face as if they think he's some kind of moron.
Not to mention that the Tantive IV is still indeed an consular ship, meaning an Imperial Senate ship. Basically the rebels tried to get away with Diplomatic Impunity, something that is guaranteed to grind Vader's gears.
Given that part of the fight takes place near or in a docking port, an explosion ran the risk of breaching the hull and exposing them to uncontrolled vacuum. Firing a blaster meant focusing the shot and leaving him open defensively. This being said, the sheer amount of pizzazz in his movements and how he kills the rebels at a walking pace implies that he was probably enjoying the ability to open up and let out his anger more than he should given the situation.
Vader's somewhat arthritic combat with Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of ANH could also be explained by Vader having been away from his recuperative bacta tank for some time by that point. Even sustaining himself with the Force, he had just days previously slaughtered a big chunk of the Rebel flagship's defenders over Scarif, had conducted at least one Force-augmented interrogation of Leia (and possibly other captured rebels), and had been walking himself around in his prosthetic suit (which we know to be painful and tiring for him) on the Death Star for a couple of days overseeing the final commissioning of the weapon.
Not to mention that it gives weight to the theory that in spite of all that he was still only toying with Obi-Wan, the way he did with his son on Bespin. He wanted to make him suffer like he suffered. Too bad Obi-Wan found another way.
This also explains how Han caught him off guard in the Death Star's trench: after all the exertion from Scarif to the Death Star's trench, likely with little rest, he's heavily impaired.
Note to the above, this is perhaps the best reasoning behind why Vader would have a personal chamber in the Executor. The massive Star Destroyer not only has the power and resources to aid his recuperation, but it's mobility allows Vader to head to any situation in the galaxy at his best, explaining his ability to overwhelm Luke in their duel on Bespin.
Also, Vader being ordered around by Tarkin even if he usually operates outside the Imperial chain of command: It could be that the Emperor demoted him for failing at Scarif, placing him under Tarkin's command while knowing full well of the two men's mutual dislike; it could be argued that Vader is also angry at himself for getting too cocky (he certainly was in R1) and from then on he's more restrained and focused.
Vader's not the only one in a bad mood in A New Hope. When Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan are just itching to pick a fight with Luke, they're pissed at failing to pick a fight with Jyn a day or two earlier. Not to mention almost getting vaporised from orbit on Jedha. On that note, ancillary materials tell us precisely why they have death sentences in so many systems: they have been plying their trade for Saw Guerra's Partisans, making meat droid fighters out of captured imperials by plugging droid brains onto partially decapitated heads, which are later shown on-screen in Solo.
Kyber crystals are given explicit definition as both a key component of lightsabers, as well as the Death Star superlaser. This ties the two pieces of technology together in a light/dark duality, with the very likely possibility that the superlaser is essentially a giant, evil perversion of the ancient Jedi weapon. This might explain why the Primary Weapon needs an ignition sequence, rather than a charging/prepare-to-fire process.
In the Final Battle, several Rebel pilots who would go on to fight in the Battle of Yavin appear, including Red Leader and Gold Leader, which mean Red Squadron and Gold Squadron are also part of the battle. There is also the presence of Blue Squadron during the battle, which is the squadron that flies down into the planetside to support the ground forces and is trapped inside when the shield is up. As only Red and Gold Squadrons are present at the Battle of Yavin, it's implied that all of Blue Squadron are killed in action during the Battle of Scarif.
Red Five is blown apart specifically. No wonder there's a spot available for Luke later...
It's said that Bodhi still wears his Imperial coveralls even after defecting so that he doesn't forget what he's done and been through. It's also highly likely that he just doesn't have anything else to wear. They are also useful should he be captured by the Empire. He can claim he was captured by rebels (which is actually true at one point) until he can plan his next escape. Hell, in the battle of Scarif the troopers ask him to identify himself rather than just shooting him outright because of his uniform.
How could Galen Erso plausibly get away naming the Death Star project the open code of "Stardust" (for any Rebels who might have talked for thirty minutes with his daughter) without raising eyebrows or suspicions? Because the thing is designed to pummel planets into what they were originally made of. Not to mention that he could probably make a good argument for helping maintain security by giving the Death Star a very nondescript codename.
Given Chirrut's line that "the strongest stars have a heart of kyber", it can also be read as a poetic reference to the composition of the Death Star's superlaser.
The CGI used for Tarkin's appearances (due to Peter Cushing having passed away two decades previously) puts him right in the Uncanny Valley, especially when compared against the live actors in the same scene. This works perfectly, because Governor Tarkin should inspire an instinctive reaction of fear or disgust in most people. Especially since the CGI for a young Princess Leia looks a lot more realistic.
Vader hints about not liking Krennic's choice for the Death Star's test. It was actually Tarkin's idea (and Krennic tries to argue that, but gets ignored), and we know he doesn't really have issues about destroying a whole planet, so why did he do that? Because Tarkin already knew about Krennic's security leak, and Vader did too, and we all know how he reacts to failure, so Tarkin was just making Krennic's situation even worse, taking away any chance he could have to claim the Death Star for himself.
Galen is first thought of as a collaborator, but revealed to be subverting the Imperial's greatest weapon by giving it an exploitable flaw and sending it to the Rebels. It goes even further than that: by fully supporting the superweapon program, and convincing Krennic of its legitimacy, Galen committed significant Imperial resources that could've been spent on bolstering their fleet into many more ships and installations across the galaxy. This made the Rebellion's odds of actually defeating the Empire (minus the Death Star) significantly better. In the Marvel Star Wars: Darth Vader comic, General Tagge outright states this, saying that, by comparison, his schemes aren't as impressive as Vader's or Tarkin's, but they happen to be effective. It's non-canon now, but several Legends books state that the huge Imperial projects (the Death Star and Executor are specifically called out) also carried a very large percentage of the best of the Imperial Navy.
During the Battle of Scarif, Admiral Raddus employs a Hammerhead-class corvette to ram the disabled Imperial Star Destroyer into another, then send them both plummeting into the Shield Space Station above Scarif. This might be the inspiration for Admiral Ackbar's decision to concentrate all fire on the Super Star Destroyer during the Battle of Endor, as he knows a Star Destroyer is very vulnerable when its shield is disabled, and that even one tiny craft can cripple the whole thing if hit in the right spot, as shown by Green Leader's Heroic Sacrifice by ramming his out-of-control A-Wing into the SSD's unshielded bridge.
And it's practically a Chekhov's Gun to see Raddus's tactic work so well. Nearly forty years of Star Wars, and we finally got to see why it's not smart to position your space warships in a tight formation when they're shaped like giant knives.
Vader's annoyance when Krennic came to him to whine about Tarkin taking command of the Death Star makes even more sense in the context of A New Hope, which takes place immediately after Rogue One and in which Vader is basically The Dragon to Tarkin. Clearly, the Emperor has already handed down his decision about who is to command the Death Star, and even Vader has no say in the matter. He is certainly not going to admit that to an overly-ambitious underling like Krennic, though. Vader was probably stewing in his bacta tank over this very issue when Krennic showed up. Annoyed at being dragged out of his tank (the closest he ever gets to relaxing in a hot tub) and being pushed to address an organizational dispute over which he has no control, Vader simply Force-chokes Krennic until he is on his knees just to make himself feel a bit better about the situation.
The Rebels do rather well for themselves during the climactic battle considering that they were up against a pair of Star Destroyers and the fairly well-armed and defended Shield Ring base. In fact, if not for the untimely arrival of Tarkin and Vader soon afterwards, they could have claimed a complete victory having dealt a sudden defeat by taking out all of the Imperial space assets in the space of a few minutes. At least part of this might have been due to the Rebels being the only side expecting to fight a battle there. The Imperial Starfleet has been maintaining order and putting down small rebellions here and there for the past while, the last thing they expected was a surprise attack on the surface of Scarif suddenly backed by the arrival of a fleet ready for battle. We even see a handful of Blue Squadron's fighters fly straight past one of the Star Destroyers unopposed after failing to make it through the shield. The surprised Imperial officers were still probably scrambling over themselves to react and not ready to return fire yet. The Rebels probably won't be given an opportunity for such battle conditions again, but by now, the Empire will be dealing with open rebellion at every turn as well given the string of unexpected early Rebel victories at Scarif and Yavin. Even their retreat from Hoth will likely serve as further inspiration as the Empire fails yet again to drop the boot on the Rebel Alliance.
The visual guide confirms that the Imperials by large did not expect a battle there, and that if anyone were to attack Scarif they would be ineffective due the presence of the planetary shield and two Star Destroyers. As a result, most of the Imperial troops, including the Star Destroyers' crews, react sluggishly and slowly and are caught unprepared, with the only ones operating as they should being Krennic, who is an outsider and in trouble with the higher-ups, his Death Troopers, who are not only outsiders but some of the best troops the Empire has, and the gate station rank and file, who took the initiative of holding drills and training to keep themselves up to par in case the Rebels actually attacked and actually performed well, first locking the shield almost as soon as the Rebels arrive (though not in time to keep some of Blue Squadron to pass through) and then scrambling their TIEs in just a few minutes, the latter almost dooming the Rebel fleet to destruction when they kept most of their fighters from making runs on the otherwise unstoppable Star Destroyers (Gold Squadron mentions specifically an opening before hitting the Persecutor with the ion torpedoes, having lucked out on that) and even making their own runs on the Rebel ships.
The Battle of Scarif explains why half of the Imperial leaders in A New Hope are completely unnerved and cautious about the Rebels during the meeting in the Death Star. Scarif was an eye opener for just what the Empire may be facing, and the implications were sinking in that the galaxy will get word of it no matter how much damage control they can do, inspiring even greater resistance. Yavin is what finally seals the deal - when your flagship achievement of twenty years' effort gets destroyed less than a full day after its christening, you know you're not dealing with small fries.
The meeting can be taken as an emergency session of the joint chiefs and why they acted as they did. General Tagge takes away from the battle that the rebels have the equipment and mettle to fight the empire on an equal footing. He also notes that the rebels might possibly find a weakness in the Death Star. Admiral Motti however takes away that the rebels were scared into submission by the appearance and use of the Death Star. Tarkin sides with Motti and the downfall of the empire is assured.
It also addresses a headscratcher from A New Hope, namely that Tagge is insisting the Rebel Alliance is too well-equipped, but at the end of that film, fighting for their life, they have less than a squadron to throw against the mightiest war machine humankind has ever produced. Most of their equipment was destroyed at Scarif. . . but the Empire doesn't know that.
Tarkin and Scarif:
Tarkin's decision to annihilate the Scarif Base with the Death Star might seem a bit overkill if he wanted only to kill the few remaining rebels and to get rid of Krennic, as the whole garrison housing thousands of Imperial personnel and priceless databanks are also destroyed in the process, but from Tarkin's perspective, he has no idea that the rebels were there only to steal the Death Star plans specifically, nor the true size of the rebel ground force. The Battle of Scarif was the first major rebel offensive, so no one in the Empire saw it coming, and it also happens to be one of the most heavily defended Imperial garrisons, and before Tarkin and Vader arrived at Scarif, the Rebels were winning the battle (at least in the space battle). Tarkin has every right to suspect that the Rebels may have been there to stay, and therefore would take control of the Imperial databanks and all the secrets they hold. Thus, him using the Death Star superlaser to destroy the whole garrison is because It's the Only Way to Be Sure that the Rebels are completely annihilated, as well as destroying the databanks completely to ensure that there won't be any more information leak in the future. The only other possible location that the Empire would house such a vast collection of data that is as heavily defended as Scarif is possibly the Imperial Capital (Coruscant) itself, so by destroying Scarif, the Empire has one less valuable planet to worry about.
Even more dastardly, in destroying the archive on Scarif, Tarkin is also destroying the plans for a multitude of other Imperial "secret weapons." Now that he has his Death Star, he cuts off his potential competitors within the Empire (those commanding other secret projects) at the knees in one swift stroke, ensuring that he will indeed be the "ultimate power" going forward.
In addition, the crew of Rogue One was deliberately trying to make it seem like their numbers were greater than they actually were, which seems to have worked. Tarkin was likely operating off of this faulty intelligence. Combined with the knowledge that the Scarif base is transmitting to the Rebels, he may have thought that they had overtaken the base entirely.
A New Hope begins with Darth Vader capturing Leia and interrogating her for the location of the rebel base. But since any of the commanding officers of the Rebel Fleet would also have to know the location of the base, the fact that they had to torture Leia of all people to obtain the information can only mean that every single commanding officer of the Fleet either escaped capture, went down with the ship, or resisted the Empire's interrogation tactics. The Rebellion may be weak, but they have no shortage of heroes.
The Battle of Endor goes smoothly for the Empire at first because they learned from their experience on Scarif. The Empire was caught with their pants down when the Rogue One launched an unexpected ground assault, which was also a diversion for Jyn, Cassian, and Kaytoo to sneak into the Citadel to steal the plans. Meanwhile, the Rebel fleet led by Admiral Raddus launched a surprise attack on the unsuspecting Imperial Fleet above the planet and dealt a devastating blow. Even though most of the Rebels were annihilated, they were successful in their mission. Fast forward to Endor, the Empire knows the Rebels are desperate for any information regarding their superweapons, no matter how unreliable they are, so the Emperor deliberately creates a 'Scarif 2.0' situation, albeit this time the Empire sees it coming. He lets the Rebels take the Death Star II plans, killing quite a few Bothans to make the attempt convincing. He lets an Imperial Shuttle get stolen, knowing that it will be used to transport a small Rebel strike force to destroy the shield generator planetside. Then he lays the trap for them all. The Empire's 'best troops' wait for the Rebels to sneak inside the bunker (which limits their escape routes) before they spring the trap. The full might of Death Squadron (the Imperial Fleet's elite, consisting of far more than the Executor and its escort) ambushes the Rebel fleet as soon as they break out of hyperspace. It all played out perfectly and the Empire has essentially won... Except for one little minor detail. Scarif doesn't have Ewoks. The Rebels making friends with the Ewoks, leading to them assisting the Rebellion on the forest moon, was the one thing the Empire didn't see coming and didn't prepare for.
To add even more similarities, in the Legends-continuity novelization of ROTJ, Moff Jerrjerrod has orders of turning the superlaser of the Second Death Star onto the moon if the shield is deactivated, and indeed the superlaser is facing Endor at the time of its destruction (the Millennium Falcon flies towards the camera, with the laser face-on in the background, with the very next shot showing it flying towards the moon, with no sign of it turning between shots)
The shield on Scarif goes down when the shield gate/generator in orbit is destroyed by sustained fire and the impact of two Star Destroyers. The Empire learns from this mistake and places the shield generator on Endor in Return of the Jedi inside the shield it's generating.
In the original trilogy, it seems odd how the Rebel's forces kept on growing in spite of being regularly decimated. They only had 30 fighters to throw at the first Death Star (of which only three survived), yet had an entire fleet by the end of Empire, and were able to take on and apparently rout "possibly the largest flotilla of Star Destroyers ever assembled" in Return of the Jedi almost immediately after being routed themselves on Hoth (by a mere six destroyers no less). On a more recent note, the battle of Scarif, although ostensibly a rebellion victory, cost them dearly in both ships and personnel, as well as their flagship and admiral Raddus. Yet the "briefing scene" during the Yavin segment of the movie clearly shows that many factions within the Rebellion are getting cold feet, and are withdrawing their support to cut their losses. When the Death Star is destroyed, and the Rebellion lands a solid victory, those splintering factions probably fell back in line, and recommitted their troops, ships, and supplies to the cause. Especially when the Empire fails to crush the Rebellion early on. News of their victories at Scarif and Yavin would have gotten out almost right on top of each other. Following that, the Empire fails to capture the Rebel leadership before they can escape Yavin, and fail yet again to catch them again a few years later at Hoth. Even as The Empire Strikes Back seems to end on a low note for the main heroes, the Imperial forces must be looking like fools for still not having gotten a handle on the situation. Add in the huge public outcry from the destruction of Alderaan (no one bought the official story, and the people Tarkin wanted to cow into submission instead decided "What the hell? Nothing left to lose!"), and this leads to more folks, both Rebel cells and system governments, throwing in with the Alliance and pouring their resources into the pot. There is also the possibility that those factions who have wihdrew support didn't come back because of renewed optimism, but because the Death Star's destruction all but ensure any sort of backing out is no longer an option from an Empire that probably wants any rebel supporters to be put down regardless of excuses. From then on, it's do or die.
The blessing Chirrut gives during his introductory scene is "May the Force of others be with you." At first this seems a bit weird if you're used to "May the Force be with you", but it makes sense on a couple of levels: If the Guardians of the Whills were guardians of the Jedi Temple but not Jedi themselves, they are basically praying that the Jedi (those gifted with The Force) will protect the person they're blessing. But more to the point, and fitting for this film, it highlights the importance of supporting each other in a common goal, even at great personal risk. May theForceof othersbe with you.
Jyn fights with a collapsible baton; while the creators of the film made the choice to focus on ordinary people rather than Force users for this film, it's an effective bit of imagery that Jyn carries a weapon that's rather like a mundane version of a lightsaber.
Tarkin specifying a "single reactor ignition" both times they test fire the Death Star aligns nicely with his line about wanting to "demonstrate the full power of this station" on Alderaan in A New Hope.
"Single reactor ignition" is also a reference to real world WMDs. Hydrogen bombs can only be initiated by multiple sequences (i.e. H-bombs rely on fusion power, like the reactions that stars use, to release energy, but to get to the minimum amount of energy to start a fusion reaction, H-bombs have to be ignited by fission bombs in order to activate). The idea of the Death Star only activating its "single reactor ignition" is like dropping a Hiroshima or Nagasaki type bomb on a city. It's bad, and the explosion would be like nothing ever seen before, but it only scratches the surface of what this type of weapon can do, as evidenced by the Tsar Bomba for thermonuclear weapons in real life and by the destruction of Alderaan being orders of magnitude larger than the destruction of Scarif and Jedha in Star Wars).
Practically all of the protagonists die either in the company of someone they love, or thinking of someone close to them. One of Saw's last acts is telling Jyn to escape the destruction of Jedha and save the Rebellion, watching her ship escape and thinking of her until the end. Galen dies in his daughter's arms. K-2SO goes down protecting Cassian and Jyn, telling them they can complete their mission. Bodhi dies just after he's made the connection with the Rebel Alliance so that the plans can be transmitted, declaring "This is for you, Galen," dedicating the act to him. Chirrut dies in Baze's arms, Baze regains his faith and repeats Chirrut's mantra as he takes out more enemies, and dies looking at Chirrut's body. Jyn and Cassian are consumed by the Death Star's beam as they embrace, just after he tells her that her father would be proud of her. In contrast to all of this, Krennic dies utterly alone, with no one to help or comfort him as his own treasured Death Star is turned against him — and under the orders of his main rival, to boot.
When the Alliance Council aren't moved by Jyn's Rousing Speech and refused to go into battle, Mon Mothma said "The odds are too great." Considering later Rogue One go into battle on their own anyway, it's essentially their way in saying "Never Tell Me the Odds!!" It's also an ironic callback to A New Hope, where a united Rebel Alliance is fully dedicated to opposing the Death Star with a fighter force a fraction of the size of the one from Scarif, but Han Solo, Jyn's predecessor and counterpart as the mercenary cynic, is the sole dissenter and (initially) refuses to join what he sees as a hopeless suicide mission.
Baze wears a suit of armor and carries a BFG. It's not clear if this is just something he came across in the years since the loss of the Temple on Jeddha, or if this was the sort of equipment you could reasonably expect a temple guard to be equipped with. Given how outlandish some of the threats in the Star Wars universe can be, the latter actually doesn't seem that improbable.
The Death Star is powered by kyber crystals. "The strongest stars have hearts of kyber." Hence why the Death Star's more powerful successor, Starkiller Base, consumes stars as fuel.
That empty chair next to Tarkin in the meeting room in A New Hope? That's where Krennic was supposed to sit...
Remember the opening crawl to A New Hope when it stated that the Rebellion has won its "first major victory" against the Empire? Well, we finally got to see it. While the Rebels technically lost most of their fleet, and their operatives on Scarif were Death Star'ed out of existence, the plans to the Death Star were stolen and the Scarif installation was destroyed, which is pretty much exactly what the Rebels wanted. Strategically it was a win, and since the Empire tried to cover up the Death Star's existence prior to Alderaan, they would have to blame the Rebels for the destruction of Scarif. Basically, not only did the Rebels do everything they set out to do, the Empire is forced to claim that the Rebels 'won' to keep the Death Star a secret and keep their own troops from realizing that the Empire would rather wipe out thousands of Stormtroopers than let the Rebels take a base.
As intimidating as the Imperial walkers were on Scarif, they were taken out much easier than their counterparts in The Empire Strikes Back. Yet while they do look almost identical, the AT-ATs attacking the rebel base on Hoth were a different model than those used on Scarif. The walkers seen in Rogue One were AT-ACTs; All-Terrain Armored-Cargo-Transports. Their designated use was to haul heavy equipment and munitions, being armed and armored enough to not require an escort. Although their armament was intended as a deterrent towards raiders and saboteurs, the speed and surprise of the rebel attack left the imperials scrambling for any type of firepower they could muster, and the AT-ACT commanders took the initiative to use their transports offensively. The AT-ATs on Hoth were designed and built for a more offensive, front-line role.
The fact that Scarif was "protected" by older AT-ATs, and AT-ACTs runs with the Imperial thinking. The troops assigned to guard a "library" probably weren't the best one either.
According to the novelization, that is actually one of the factors at play: Scarif was seen as an easy posting, and most of the Imperials there had grown lazy, with the officers expecting that if it ever happened anything it would be swiftly dealt by the orbiting Star Destroyers and the shield, not realizing the Star Destroyers' crews had also grown lazy (enough to not maintain a CAP and to fail to scramble their TIEs during the battle). The only Imperials who were actually up to standards were the Death Troopers, who weren't actually part of the local garrison, and the rank-and-file crew of the gate station, who had taken the initiative to drill themselves into peak efficiency while their officers lazed away. Thus while the gate station reacted swiftly to the attack and nearly screwed the Rebel attack when their fighters scrambled and engaged the Rebels', the ground garrison panicked and performed badly, and only started reacting decently when Krennic, an outsider, saw the mess and took over.
The AT-ACT taken down by a U-Wing also has a precise explanation in the Expanded Universe: between the sheer size and the weight of both vehicle and (when loaded) cargo, the AT-ACT is more unstable and structurally fragile than the AT-AT and needs tensor fields in the knee joints for the legs to not snap and collapse under the vehicle's own weight, and when the U-Wing gunner spotted a loaded one he used his technology-disabling ion blaster precisely to disable a tensor field. And when that happened, the unsupported knee had to sustain nearly the entire weight of the walker and the thousands of tonnes of cargo.
At first, the fact that Vader personally witnessed the Tantive IV fleeing the battle may make Leia's insistence in Episode IV that she's on a diplomatic mission seem odd. However, it actually casts new light on it, especially given that she starts out by saying "The Senate will not sit still for this." Vader knows she's lying, and she knows Vader knows she's lying. But from her point of view it's irrelevant, because Vader isn't the one she has to convince: the Senate is. She clearly believes that Vader can't hold her without pressing charges in the Senate (not knowing it's about to be dissolved), so she's laying the groundwork for her defense. (It's similar to someone being arrested in incriminating circumstances insisting on maintaining their innocence: they're not trying to convince the police, they're just keeping their story consistent for when they have to try and convince a judge.)
Related to the above; Leia may have attempted such a bold-faced lie because she either wasn't aware that Vader saw her ship. OR was banking on the hope that Vader's Star Destroyer hadn't managed to scan and identify her own vessel, seeing as most most CR90 corvettes are almost indistinguishable from one another. It may have been a futile attempt to evoke the Mistaken for Evidence trope to convince Vader that he had snagged the wrong corvette.
So basically, Leia was trying to tell Vader that this was not the corvette he was looking for.
How were the Rebels able to find the weak point in the Death Star from the plans in Episode IV given only a couple days at most to go through them before it arrived at Yavin? Thanks to the message Galen sent to the Alliance through Jyn, they already knew that the weakness was a flaw in the reactor, with a deliberate vulnerability left in place to allow an exploitation of that flaw. They didn't need to go through all the (no doubt extensive, given the size of the Death Star) data in the plans, they just needed to start at the reactor and backtrack everything that could deliver the necessary shock to it until they found something on the surface of the station they could deliver the necessary blow to, narrowing the data search considerably.
Why do the stolen plans have the main weapon dish in the wrong place? First, they are not "complete" plans for the entire structure but a subset focusing on the power and weapons systems and their reference geometry does not need to be a match for the outer shell. Second, Galen is hiding the flaw he created. He needs the flaw visible in ONE set of plans so it can be found by the Rebellion, and needs to hide it in the rest of the schematics that are being used by the Empire for the construction. The more the plans that show the flaw look like an older, outdated set that has since been replaced the less likely the Empire will examine them closely enough to find the flaw.
It may also explain why the turbolaser crew were hesitant to fire on the Tantive IV's escape pod; the plans the Rebels stole from Scarif is the only set of plans to show the Death Star's fatal flaw, which is why The Empire must get them back intact; it's the quickest (and perhaps only) way to find the flaw and fix it.
Why is the Taris senator one of the loudest voices in the room saying the rebellion is hopeless? Disney appears to be going more or less Shrug of God when it comes to Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: The Old Republic, as the latter is still an actively-developed game and both are set back so far in the universe's past that they won't interfere with currently-developing projects. Taris was on the receiving end of Imperial/Sith bombardment, taking it from a corrupt (but relatively prosperous) city world to a rakghoul-infested polluted swamp. Republic efforts to clean it up and resettle three centuries after that were ruined by the Imperials, killing or scattering the settlers and putting Suresh's administration in charge. It probably took even longer to try and resettle again. Little wonder the Tarisian senator figures that history is about to repeat itself.
The third season finale of Star Wars Rebels actually explains why the Rebel council is so reluctant to commit their forces to the attack on Scarif. Two years ago, the rebels were preparing for another major attack against the Imperial factories on Lothal when their combined fleet was ambushed by Grand Admiral Thrawn and suffered heavy casualties, losing most of their capital ships and their headquarters on Atollon. They've only now rebuilt and rearmed their forces after those losses, and are unwilling to risk another attack unless it's a sure shot, not a high-risk raid on a well-defended Imperial world.
Saw's death. Not only is he "tired of running," he has nowhere left to run to. The Empire wants him dead, the Rebellion rejects him, his Partisans are vilified by the rest of the galaxy, and he, an old man on life support who can barely walk on his own, is about to lose his entire support base. All he has left is his pride.
Chirrut's Survival Mantra actually supports the idea that the Force itself is responsible for Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy in-universe. Stormtroopers are supposed to be crack shots, yet repeatedly miss the heroes in the original trilogy. Note that Luke and Leia are both definitely Force-sensitive (albeit only Luke was actually trained as a Jedi), and there are some fan theories that speculate Han is also a Force-sensitive, in as much as it explains his uncanny luck. All three are subconsciously using the Force to avoid being hit by blaster fire, while Red Shirt mooks constantly get killed elsewhere (including the beginning of A New Hope, the other pilots in both the battles of Yavin and Endor, and the ground strike teeam on Endor).
Why the Death Troopers are not mentioned or seen in any other canon of the franchise? Well, since they are cyborgs, it is likely that they cost a fortune to create and train, making their membership of the Imperial Army very small, so it's possible that the ones in Scariff when Tarkin ordered the planet's destruction were all of them. Another possibility was that the instructions to create them were also on Scariff, so when Tarkin blew the planet those were also destroyed and the Empire didn´t know how to make more, making any survivor irreplaceable after being destroyed. Any way, the Death Troopers are doomed to canonical extinction.
When escaping the destruction of Jedha city and the surrounding countryside, Cassian makes the ship jump to hyperspace rather than waiting for K2SO to finish his calculations. No doubt, he's been taking notes from General Syndulla on making a quick escape: no calculations, just go and hope it's your lucky day.
As rebels, the first thing Saw Gerrera and his Partisans were taught by Rex and Ahsoka was the proper tactics on taking out enemy tanks by throwing grenades into them (something Saw was quite bad at, which was one of the first catalysts towards Steela being chosen to lead the group). So what's the first thing we see his Partisans attacking and how?
Imperial shuttles in this movie show a lot more wear and tear than other Imperial craft, lacking the usually clean appearance of the Empire's warmachines (which constrasts with the Rebellion's battle-worn equipment). Perhaps shuttle pilots are more like space truckers than parade-ready military personnel with the newest, most intimidating looking kit. That means Bodhi's dishevelled appearance doesn't cause suspicion when he is among loyal Imperials.
Also, they're Imperial warmachines. Tie Fighters don't have shields, or hyperdrives, and are meant to be produced cheaply. The Empire's whole shtick is overwhelming force and numbers without regard to costs. Tie fighters, Stormtroopers, and even AT-ST's are meant to be destroyed as long as they do some damage before they get blown up. Then they just get replaced by the next person or ship in line. But Imperial shuttles might be the only things in the Imperial fleet that aren't meant to be thrown away like used napkins, since they might actually have something of value in there...
We finally find out why Star Destroyers are named Star Destroyers. Its because Imperials like parking them over troublesome cities like Jedha. This has the sheer intimidation factor of blotting out the sun, which to lesser species, is destroying a star.
The same effect occurs under at night or in space. So the name "Star Destroyer" is really apt honestly.
The bridge of Admiral Raddus's flagship is suspended beneath the ship in an exposed pod that has massive windows on the front, sides, and bottom. With Raddus sitting in his chair suspended out in the middle of it, it brings to mind a fish bowl. Admiral Ackbar's bridge had a similar effect, but without the glass bottom.
When the heroes are running like hell for their ship to escape the wave of destruction from the Death Star's annihilation of Jedha City, Chirrut stays right on Baze's heels, much closer than the pair usually stick together. With so much noise generated by cracking, tumbling bounders grinding and crashing against one another, Baze's familiar footsteps are probably the only tangible cue the blind Chirrut has to direct his own flight to safety.
Jyn bluffs Krennic when they finally meet because as we see later, she hadn't send the data yet. From her point of view she could probably see Cassian coming up behind him and went with that lie to throw him off and keep him from doing something till Cassian acted.
The rebels have to open the shield to transmit the plans because the file size is too large. How can such large files fit onto the silver diskette that is slipped through the stuck door to the Tantive IV? Simply the technology in the SW universe advanced, similar IRL. The original data cassette tape was a bulky remnant of the time when the Death Star was originally planned. The diskette shows a greater capacity for storage with larger files.
This movie manages to make the Empire and Tarkin appear even more evil than it already did. Why? Because it reveals that the Death Star has a power setting to its beam. Twice we see it used to destroy just one area rather than an entire planet (though whether this prevents the planet's entire ecosystem from being destroyed is another matter), meaning that Tarkin could have simply blown up Alderaan's capital city to send a message (catastrophic and evil, but comparatively less so), but instead chose to completely vaporize the planet. Chilling. In fact, he specifically ordered only Jedha Temple city to be destroyed when Krennic suggested going full power, stating he just wanted a statement, not a manifesto. He wanted Alderaan to be a memorial of what he stood for.
There's also two more practical reasons to use the full power on Alderaan and not Jedha and Scarif: the first is visibility, as Alderaan is a rich and politically important Core World and a founding member of the Republic, so its utter annihilation would have much more impact than a Mid Rim desert moon only important to the few who still believed in the Force (Jedha) or a nearly unknown Outer Rim planet in an exclusion zone used as a stronghold (Scarif); the second is that Alderaan has a fully functional planetary shield (that actually resists for all of a tenth of a second before the Death Star's superlaser penetrates and blows up Alderaan), and casually blowing up a planet through a defense meant to resist for days against hundreds of warships throwing at it everything they have has much more effect than doing it to a planet with a compromised shield (Scarif, whose shield was malfunctioning after the gate's destruction) or an unshielded moon (Jedha). The latter is likely one of the reasons Leia would believe Tarkin when he let her think he'd spare Alderaan if she gave up the Rebel base' location: Dantoiine, being an important world and a location of a battle in the Clone Wars, likely had a shield too.
This also explains why Tarkin wanted to attack Yavin 4 directly, rather than simply destroying Yavin itself. The Battle of Yavin was the Death Star's first public attack on a military base, and Tarkin wanted to show the rebels that his weapon could withstand any attempt to destroy it. Oops.
There's also a third reason for Tarkin to not use the full power of the Death Star on Jedha: by showing "mercy" on the lesser target he's prompting the Rebels to give up and surrender in hope of being spared. A strategy that, as we know, was actually working until the destruction of the Death Star changed the game.
While Vader would probably never disrobe from his armor unless he had a high probability that things were safe for him to do so... one has to wonder how horrifying it must be to be suspended in a tank with (mostly healed) burn scars, and no limbs, and have to worry about some saboteur coming into your room and shooting you while you're defenseless. Keep in mind this is an anxiety that someone of Vader's crippled status would have to live with. Crossing over to Fridge Brilliance, though, he isn't defenseless. He's one of the most powerful Force users to ever live and second only to the Emperor in that power currently. Any would-be assassin would be dead before they could draw their gun. If Vader can Force-choke someone remotely through a viewscreen, he can do it through an uncomfortable Bacta Tank. And that's before taking the citadel's likely considerable defenses and its contingent of Imperial Royal Guards into account, as well.
Vader was formerly thought of by many as the Chosen One, born with a higher midochlorian count than anyone in galactic history. In his heyday, he was one of the top five warriors in the galaxy and was on his way to be the strongest Force-user ever. Even after losing all of his limbs and being nigh-immolated, Vader has managed to still be a hair's breath weaker than the Emperor. And if he can choke you from the other side of a space fleet or from the inside of a bacta tank, then just imagine how terrifying this man would have been if he had never been injured. As horrible as Vader has been to the Rebel Alliance, they lucked out on how big a monster he could have been. Or heck, be fortunate enough that their own Force-user, Luke Skywalker, did not turn to The Dark Side as Word of God states he has the same Force potential as Vader uninjured.
The tank, and indeed the overall industrial design of Vader's castle, make it clear that this is a man with absolutely no pleasure in his life at all. While this has been alluded to many times, here we see for certain that Vader has nothing even remotely resembling a normal person's existence. While he is powerful and prestigious enough to dwell in a huge castle, it is utterly devoid of luxuries or artwork because he cannot appreciate such things — either being confined to his suit or a bacta tank. He truly is more machine than man, and the closest thing he has to amenities are the machines that help keep him alive.
Tying into the above, Vader probably doesn't have anything resembling luxuries in his life because of how sensory deprived he is. His nerves have been shot to hell and back due to his burns, so his sense of touch is practically gone except for what his cybernetics are able to provide. And even then his cybernetic sense of touch is probably severely diminished compared to his original flesh and blood body. Plus thanks to his armor it's not like his skin would be able to enjoy the comfort of a leather chair as he sits down to enjoy a movie or show. Even visual enjoyment is limited, since he'd need to set it up in his purified air chambers in order to see it as anything other than a giant red blob. Hell, he's not even capable of eating solid food unless it's inside a sealed chamber — meaning that he would not be able to enjoy a dinner with friends. Even if you're assuming Vader is punishing himself and doesn't want luxuries, the sad truth is that his ability to even enjoy these things is severely limited.
During the skirmish in Jedha, Jyn risks her life to save a young girl caught in the crossfire between the Empire and Saw's forces. She succeeds and manages to return her to her mother. Heartwarming, right? A few scenes later, Krennic test fires the Death Star on Jedha, annihilating the whole city. The girl and her parents die in the blast.
Tarkin orders that the Death Star only fire on the Holy City, not destroy the entire moon of Jedha. After it fires, we see the blast is so powerful enough that debris is spilling into space. As those aware of the Star Wars fandom would know, the rest of the moon isn't going to be much better off.
Lesser example: Despite likely having thoughts about her, why wasn't Steela mentioned at all during the movie? Because Saw had already forsaken everything the Partisans were supposed to stand for. Everything that Steela stood for. Saw had forsaken Steela. And it seems like Saw knows how far he's fallen and knows that Steela wouldn't have wanted this, but there's nothing more left for him. And funnily enough, you can say almost the exact same thing with Anakin/Vader and Padme if you switch out Saw and Steela respectively.
Our first impression of the Star Wars universe was one of wonder, fantasy, and simple good-vs-evil told from the perspective of a naive Farm Boy who wanted to be a hero and explore the galaxy — he got his wish by becoming the one who would destroy the Death Star and save the Rebel Alliance. He even got a medal for it afterwards (from the Princess he rescued, no less). One wonders if, sometime after the event, one of the Rebels' older members took him aside and told him who was responsible for getting the plans revealing the weak spot in the first place, and what effect that might have on him. The framing of this film's story actually confirms this is probably exactly what happened. Remember that Rogue Squadron wasn't revealed until The Empire Strikes Back. Who was Rogue Squadron's leader and founder? Luke Skywalker.
In Legends it's stated that both Luke and Wedge Antilles was jointly responsible for restructuring Red Squadron into Rogue. Even though he wasn't shown on-screen, Wedge would have been on the Red Squadron flight roster for the assault on Scarif and have no doubt heard Rogue One's callsign being thrown around in the comm chatter. Given Wedge's tendency to regret the deaths of every Rogue that died under him in Legends, it certainly adds something to his character that he willingly took on the mantle created by other dead heroes of the Rebel Alliance.
The massive ground shockwave that kicks up so much of the planet's crust outward from the impact site is surmised to be because of mantle shockwaves from the sheer energy of the superlaser. How long will the shockwaves be bounding about in the mantle, causing earthquakes to the rest of the planet? There's also the matter of the massive (to say the least) quantity of debris. Parts of the crust, including entire mountains, are shot up beyond the atmosphere. The bigger pieces may fall back to the surface, causing further damage, or escape the planet's gravity and become asteroids. But the rest is dust and dirt that is going to cloud the atmosphere and cause a climate change. The environment of the target is not going to recover soon, if ever.
At one point during the battle on the streets of Jedha at least one storm trooper is used as a human shield. This alone is pretty terrible but what really clinches it is the fact that he continues to scream with every shot. Turns out that armor will save your life, but from what we see at the very least you end up temporarily paralyzed. At worst it blocks enough of the blast that the plasma bolt only burns a small survivable hole in your body leaving you in agonizing pain unable to move on the ground, potentially bleeding out depending on if raw plasma bolts burn and cauterize wounds or expend enough energy fast enough to blast flesh apart leaving the wounds raw like an explosive.
The blast door wasn't jammed. Vader was holding the door closed with The Force.
It's a good thing (for the Rebel cause, at least) that the bulk of, if not all the Empire's Death Troopers were wiped out in the annihilation of Scarif. These relentless, coldly efficient and inhumanly resilient soldiers (that actually HIT what they're aiming for more often than not) would have made things considerably harder for Luke and co. through the course of the trilogy. Return of the Jedi in particular would have gone very differently if the Ewoks faced Death Troopers rather than the increasingly ineffective Stormtroopers.