Star Wars fans have been barely containing their enthusiasm for the next installment in the sweeping galactic saga, hoping for some sign that all is in good hands and that the new film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be one worth their loyalty.

The first sign is here.

The new film has Jyn Erso as its central character. Played by Felicity Jones (we’ve seen her work in A Theory of Everything), Jyn seems to have an impressive criminal record in the Galactic Empire. She is recruited by Rebellion leader Mon Mothma for a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star (this explains how R2-D2 got his copy).

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso

Its script was probably in development at the same time Star Wars: The Force Wakens was being produced, so Disney couldn’t have known from that how well a movie centered around a female character would do. They might have had some clue, though, from their long illustrious history of minting Disney princesses, and Rogue One is set up with another strong, independent female as its lead. We see some familiar characters, including one in the person of Mon Mothma, (played by Genevieve O’Reilly) the  primary political leader throughout the Rebellion.

We also know that Firefly’s Alan Tudyk will be playing a role in the film. Unfortunately we’ve been sworn to secrecy as to exactly what that role is, but can at least tell you that  Tudyk spent a good six months in England shooting scenes, so it’s not just a walk-on part.

Genevieive O'Reilly as Mon Mothma

Genevieive O’Reilly as Mon Mothma

Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz). The idea for the story of Rogue One came from John Knoll, an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. He will executive produce along with Simon Emanuel (The Dark Knight Rises, Fast & Furious 6) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds). Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To (Band of Brothers, The Pacific) are on board to produce and John Swartz (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will co-produce. The film starts shooting this summer in London and is due for release on December 16, 2016.

How can they possibly produce all the visual effects they need in a scant five months? The Disney/ILM effects wizards are going to be pulling a lot of very long hours to make this happen on such a short schedule. We salute their enthusiasm, and we hope that the Force is with them.