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Villain Overview
Oh, it's beautiful!
~ Krennic, after watching the first test of the Death star on Jeddha City, resulting in its complete destruction.

Director Orson Krennic is the main antagonist of the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He is the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military who desires to complete the Death Star for the Empire and his superiors - Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader.

He was portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn, who also played John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises, Danny Rayburn in Bloodline, Nolan Sorrento in Ready Player One, Talos in Captain Marvel, and Killian in Spies in Disguise.

History

The Death Star

For some time, Krennic manipulated Imperial engineer Galen Erso into helping him build the Death Star, keeping him in the dark about what his research was being used for. When he discovered the truth, Galen fled with his family. As work on the Death Star subsequently stalled, Krennic decided that he had to find Galen and convince him to return. He finally tracked him down on a remote planet and headed there, accompanied by a squad of Death Troopers. When Galen confronted the approaching Krennic, Krennic revealed his intentions to Galen. He also sent his men inside Galen's home, intending to use his wife Lyra and his daughter Jyn as hostages to ensure Galen's cooperation. When Lyra turns up, Krennic welcomes her as well. However, Lyra draws a gun and shoots at Krennic, hitting him in the shoulder. Krennic in turns orders his guards to open fire and the Death Troopers kill Lyra. Unable to find the young Jyn, Krennic and his men leave the planet with Galen. He convinced Galen to cooperate by telling him that he would find Jyn eventually.

Many years later, the Empire kept Jyn as a prisoner (while being completely unaware of her true identity, given that she had been using an alias), until she escaped with the help of The Alliance. Krennic was later present when Grand Moff Tarkin tested his Death Star. Under Tarkin's command, Orson was to choose the target location. In order to silence the security leaks, Krennic wanted to destroy the entire moon of Jedha, but Tarkin felt that was too much and insisted that only Jedha City should be targeted. The weapon was tested on Jedha City with success, and was meant to destroy the Rebel Saw Gerrera and his Partisan cell. Although Tarkin congratulated Krennic for his achievement the two immediately got into a brief argument when Tarkin took command of the Death Star for security reasons, citing leaks of information (including the disappearance of shuttle pilot Bodi Rook) under Krennic. Krennic claimed the city of Jedha's destruction dealt with the security leaks, but Tarkin indicated that the leak came from Galen Erso's facility on Eadu.

Krennic later flew to Galen's research center, and informed that one of the scientists is a traitor. Upon nobody coming forward, Krennic ordered their immediate execution, but Galen admitted he was the traitor, and not any of his scientists. Regardless, Orson orders all of Galen's scientists to be killed and hits Galen on the face, knocking him to the ground. Krennic then tells Galen that the Death Star works, and it was used to destroy Jedha City along with Saw Gerrera and his entire Partisan Group, and that Galen's efforts to leak information on the Death Star where in vain. Just before Krennic can order Galen's execution the Rebel Alliance launches an attack on the facility. Jyn attempts to save her father, but he is killed by a stray rebel missile, knocking Krennic to the ground and forcing him to escape. Krennic then met with Darth Vader on his stronghold on Mustafar, who discussed with him the matters of the Death Star, and the priority to destroy the rebels. Krennic also attempted to arrange an audience with the Emperor to discuss his achievements, which Vader rebuffed. After attempting to ingratiate himself further, Vader then cut the conversation short by force choking Krennic, warning him that he was overreaching with his attempts to curry favor.

Scarif Battle

Ordered by Vader to make sure that the Death Star would be fully functional and without safety concerns, Krennic directly headed to the research center on Scarif where he tried to find Galen's plans and send them to Tarkin. However, his arrival coincided with the rebel attack on the base, with the Rogue One unit attempting to steal the plans from the base and transmit them to the nearby Rebel armada. After spotting several detonations near the base, Krennic sent his troops outside where they engaged the rebel troops in battle. Although his men seemed to lose at first, Krennic then sent out his personal guard squad, the Death Troopers, outside who then turned the battle in favor of the Empire.

Meanwhile, Krennic had been alerted that someone was accessing data from within the base and immediately headed there with two of his guards. He found Jyn and Cassian Andor who attempted to escape with the plans. Krennic and his men opened fire and managed to hit Andor while he was climbing up the lift to the base's antenna. Andor fell down and remained on the floor motionless.

Pursuing Jyn who had reached the antenna, Krennic headed up with the lift, eventually confronting Jyn who was about to send the Death Star plans to the rebel fleet. Aiming his gun at Jyn, Krennic demanded to know who she was and Jyn replied that he already knew her as the daughter of Galen Erso. Jyn also told him that he had lost, claiming that she had already sent the Death Star plans to the fleet. However, Krennic replied that the shield was still operational, preventing any message or broadcast from leaving the planet, and that the few rebels still on the planet would be dead soon along with her as well. Krennic then raised his gun to shoot Jyn, but was shot instead by Andor who had managed to reach the antenna platform on his own. Wounded, Krennic fell to the ground and Jyn managed to transmit the Death Star plans to the Rebel fleet after they destroyed the shield. When the two fled the base while leaving Krennic on the roof, Krennic looked up to see the Death Star approaching Scarif. Krennic realized that Tarkin intended to destroy the base and everyone within, but was unable to flee. When the Death Star fired its main laser at Scarif and crippled the Citadel Tower, Krennic was hit directly by its beam. As a result, the Scarif base was destroyed, killing all Rebel and Imperial forces stationed there. Despite Krennic's death, his vow to have Jyn killed came true as Jyn and Andor both perished in the base's explosion, though their deaths were not in vain as they embraced each other for their successful mission before accepting their fate.

Krennic's creation was indeed a truly powerful weapon, but at the end of the Battle of Scarif, Krennic's desire for power eventually lead to his own destruction. He was killed by his own creation, although it should be noted that Tarkin did carry out the order to do so.

Quotes

I delivered the weapon the Emperor requested. I deserve an audience to make sure that he understands its remarkable... potential.
~ Orson Krennic, to Darth Vader.
We stand here amidst MY achievement! Not yours!
~ Krennic realizes that Tarkin will claim responsibility for the Death Star.
The shield is up. Your signal will never reach the rebel base, ALL your ships in here will be destroyed; I lose nothing but time! You, on the other hand, die with the Rebellion!
~ Orson Krennic's last words, to Jyn Erso; before he gets shot and wounded by Cassian Andor.

Trivia

  • Krennic's insignia at the start of Rogue One is different to the rest of the movie. At this stage of his life he had different rank, that of Commander, when kidnapping Galen and was not necessarily Director of Advanced Weapons Research yet.
  • Even though he answered to the Galactic Empire, Krennic served as The Heavy because he was most directly connected to the protagonists and the one constructing the Death Star. Although since Emperor Palpatine ordered the construction of the Death Star, he could be considered the Bigger Bad behind the plot.

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