Star Wars is a grand universe filled with aliens, ancient warriors, amazing yet unexplained technology, and fanboy conjecture. That’s really part of the charm isn’t it? Trying to figure out what the next movie, comic or novel is going to hold. To ponder if your favorite characters are going to make an appearance or even if some of them may meet their demise (Never Forget Solo). So, as I write this, and dive in to the trailers and Wikipedia and multitude of articles analyzing every aspect of the film, I get excited.
This is old school. This is what it felt like to be a kid wondering what Episode I would hold. And while the buzz may always surround the next big theatrical Star Wars film, this one feels different. I’m not going to go in to a full analytical ramble on what we should expect from each character or location, and I’m not going to tell you I know secrets that you don’t. What I am going to do is tell you why this one is different. Good or bad, Rogue One will leave a mark on the Star Wars universe.
This is a break away from tradition in the universe of Star Wars film spin-offs. Generally speaking, the core cannon of Star Wars has always brought in young and old alike to watch their favorite characters battle it out with the forces of evil; while the spin-off films have mostly been reserved for children to enjoy on rainy days, whether it was the woefully underrated The Clone Wars or the infamous Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure…
This is a new type of spin-off. This is a “Star Wars Story.” Now, while this may be a ploy to extend the brand and sell more toys, it could also turn in to an interesting bit of world building, especially if executed properly. We are already aware that Rogue One takes place shortly before Episode IV and is about the team that retrieved the Death Star plans, but what is more exciting is to see how this film plays, and what that means for future Star Wars properties. This one is an experiment, and even though there have been green-lit Han Solo spin-off movies and other characters with a similar treatment in the works, Rogue One is about a group of characters that do not have a pre-existing fan base set up, and is following a story that we already know the ending of.
It is dangerous in any story to give away the ending before getting there, but what becomes more complicated is building an interesting story around an ending that has been know for 40 years. It’s the same thing that most biopics suffer from. People feel like they know the story and don’t see the need to dive further behind the scenes out of some form of avoiding expected redundancy. But, if you can make the adventure better than the result, then it will be a hit. So, if Rogue One delivers, you can expect a lot more Star Wars in the future. Personally, I’m hoping it’s an unabashed success, mostly because I want my Old Republic line-up of films.
The other thing I’m most excited about for Rogue One is how much everything released so far makes it feel like a 70’s heist film. Which, in every essence, it truly is a heist film just executed in the Star Wars universe. The characters appear dark and gritty, the settings are dirty and unclean, and everything is talked about in hushed tones. And while heist films generally follow the same pattern (character intros, team assembly, minor fallout, heist, possible betrayal, and finally success), what makes them so much fun is the fact that you’re generally cheering for bad people to do bad things for good reasons. It’s inherent in human nature to want to watch people who are good at doing bad get away with it, and that’s what I think is going to make this one so very different for most audiences. It’s the same reason Han Solo is your favorite character. Don’t lie, you know he is. Even the signature droid in this one looks like a mess not even Zayne Carrick could handle (if you understood that reference, please friend me on Facebook). He’s big, he’s lumbering, and he look like he’s made to destroy. In no way is K-2SO adorable.
Regardless of the final result, I’m excited because Rogue One appears as though it is going to be a fresh take on a Star Wars Story, and the only thing I can hope for is the creative team behind the effort focuses on the things that do make it different instead of trying to force it in to the Star Wars mould.