Unlike previous Star Wars movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story won't be featuring any Jedi, instead highlight the soldiers and ugly warfare of this galaxy far, far away. However, that doesn't mean that the Force won't be present in the new movie. Donnie Yen's character, Chirrut Imwe, is a spiritual warrior who believes in the Force's touch on life, and last month, we learned about the planet Jedha, the sacred planet described as the "Holy Land of the Star Wars world." However, Jedha won't simply be a place where those who believe in the Force will flock. It will also prove to be a key battleground that will help propel us to the events in A New Hope.
While he wouldn't reveal specific details about why the Empire has occupied Jedha in Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards told EW that the planet not only contains something valuable to both the Rebels and the Imperial forces, but also freedom fighters that have immeasurable will. He explained:
There's something very important in Jedha that serves both the Jedi and the Empire. It felt very much like something we could relate to in the real world. ... Within Jedha, even though there's the oppressive foot of the Empire hanging over them, there's a resistance that won't give up and our characters have to go and meet people there to try and secure a person from this group.
The article speculates that kyber crystals, the power source for lightsabers, may be the natural resource the Empire wants on Jedha, as they could be used to power the Death Star's superlaser. It's too soon to tell if that's the case, but given how most of the Jedi were eradicated in Revenge of the Sith, the Empire keeping a foothold on Jedha makes sense in terms of keeping order. As Gareth Edwards later noted, faith has dwindled in the years following Order 66, but there are still some who come to Jedha to pay respects, and the planet is populated with all kinds of holy people and scholars. Keeping Imperials around would help discourage anyone from acting out, though as we've learned from Edwards, their presence hasn't prevented any resistance from surfacing.
The Jehad denizens moviegoers will meet in Rogue One include the previously-mentioned Chirrut Imwe, Jiang Wen's Baze Malbus and Riz Ahmed's Bodhi Rook. As for this individual that the main protagonists are looking for, my best guess right now is that it's Saw Gerrera, a veteran from the Clone Wars, played by Forest Whitaker. When we see him in Rogue One, he'l have been leading a band of Revel extremists, so his skills would certainly come in handy for the operation they're about to pull off.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released in theaters on December 16.