What ‘Rogue One’ Needs to Be a Success

James Akinaka
Movies Star Wars
Movies Star Wars

The rebellion has only three more weeks to finish building its hope. Yet even as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story steals your plans for December 16, 2016, some fans are apprehensive about its chances of success. Rogue One is the second Star Wars film since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, after last December’s wildly popular The Force Awakens. More importantly, Rogue One is the first film of its kind, since it’s the first installment of the so-called Anthology Series.

Rogue One is an ambitious venture for Lucasfilm, for the film’s performance will determine the future of the Anthology Series. Suffice it to say that Rogue One will be a make-or-break moment for Star Wars. Learn from Fandom what Rogue One must do in order to be a success.

Rogue One Needs to Prove Itself

Star Wars Rogue One

There’s a lot riding on the success of Rogue One. Above all, it’s whether or not people are interested in seeing Star Wars films set outside of the core saga. There’s already been a lot of chatter about whether audiences understand where Rogue One is placed in the Star Wars timeline. Do they know that this is set before Star Wars: A New Hope, or are they expecting the further adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe? Time will tell, but what we know for sure is that Rogue One has to justify its existence much more than The Force Awakens or past Star Wars films ever did.

Each saga film has felt like it was an important story that needed to be told. The first six films completed the story of Anakin Skywalker, while The Force Awakens revealed what happened to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo and introduced a new generation of heroes. Rogue One is based on a single line from the opening crawl of A New Hope about the battle that let the Rebel Alliance steal the Death Star plans. Is that enough for a movie? The story and the characters need to be compelling enough to make people feel like this isn’t just a filler movie. It has to feel vital to the saga, even if it’s not part of the core story line.

Rogue One has to succeed. After all, a Han Solo prequel film will be released in 2018, with a slew of spinoff films in the years to come. Should Rogue One land with a dud, it will call into question Lucasfilm’s future spinoff plans. But so long as people leave Rogue One feeling like they watched a movie worthy of their time and the Star Wars name, then they’ll be confident going into a movie about Han Solo and all the other future spinoff films. [Brandon Rhea]

Rogue One‘s Characters Must Be Memorable

Felicity Jones

Besides being a rebel, who is Jyn Erso? She looks supremely tough in the trailers, and Felicity Jones is brimming with charisma. But will that be enough to bring the character home? We’ve talked about how this first Anthology story, centered on a daughter’s quest to find her father, runs the risk of being overshadowed by a more famous family drama in the Star Wars universe. If these characters are going to share screen time with the most iconic black-helmeted villain of all time, they had better have windpipes of durasteel. They’ll have to stand and deliver quippy lines and shill emotional anguish like the best of them.

Rogue One has all the hallmarks of an ensemble action piece. To succeed, it needs to be more like “Erso’s 11” or “Saving Private Galen” than a typical Star Wars film. Seeing the souls behind the faces is one of the real pleasures of a well-made war film. On the surface, Rogue One looks poised to accomplish this feat well. The eponymous rogues gallery, including the sarcastic robot K-2SO (sure to please fans of HK-47) gel well together in the trailer clips we’ve seen.

But director Gareth Edwards’ efforts to create ensemble in Godzilla fell a little short. After Bryan Cranston’s incredible character died halfway through (spoilers), the wind went out of it and the remaining human characters couldn’t carry the film. There’s a similar risk here. If Chirrut Îmwe, for example, is just a blind guy with some fancy stick moves, but he seems out of place in the group, or if Captain Cassian Andor is just a generic, handsome noble-souled army officer, that will be a disappointment. We need some good party balance for these adventurers.

rogue one darth vader star wars

Beyond the new characters, Rogue One faces the added challenge of staying true to familiar ones. Darth Vader’s last film appearance was largely derided. The Story Group has really nailed Vader’s menacing presence in Star Wars Rebels, and the Darth Vader comics are the best of the new canon. There must, however, be a reason for including him beyond brand recognition. If he’s in the movie just to kill all the protagonists, then why tell this story? It would also undercut the fabulously costumed Director Orson Krennic. Can he hold his own in the face of a Dark Lord of the Sith? Moreover, if Vader’s tone is off it could distract from any elements of the film that would otherwise be positive.

We will also finally see a direct link between the Clone Wars and the films. How well Saw Gerrera fits in with the rest of the story may well determine the names we see carry over from existing material into new Anthology stories. Seeing a live-action Cad Bane or Ahsoka Tano, for example, would be magnificent.

Whoever these characters turn out to be, I’m already rooting for them. Wholeheartedly. By December 16, I really hope that I can say with confidence that Rogue One is my favorite Star Wars prequel. [Robert Mitchell]

Rogue One Must Reclaim the Term “Prequel”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Rebel Base L to R: Mon Mothma, Cassian Andor, General Draven and Dodanna) Photo credit: Lucasfilm/ILM ©2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Rogue One needs to convince Star Wars fans that prequels are worth watching. I’m referring to the controversial prequel trilogy, which made older fans feel jaded about the saga. The prequel trilogy got bogged down with the political machinery that was supposed to set the stage for the original trilogy. That, among other factors, left a lasting impression that still rebuffs some fans to this day. (Case in point: Jar Jar Binks.)

Since Rogue One leads directly into A New Hope, it needs to win fans back over to the prequel genre. Whereas The Force Awakens had the freedom to expand the future of Star Wars, Rogue One must establish the groundwork for the Rebel Alliance’s campaign against the Empire. At the same time, Rogue One needs to stand on its own, since it won’t have a future sequel to tie up loose ends. Being a standalone prequel sounds like a simple premise, but it’s a tall order.


One of Rogue One‘s main challenges will be adhering to Star Wars canon. Among the film’s cast is Saw Gerrera, a TV character who makes his cinematic debut in the form of Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. Hopefully, Rogue One‘s inclusion of Gerrera heralds a larger spotlight for the saga’s television series. Moreover, Rogue One has other links to Star Wars canon. James Luceno‘s lead-in novel, Catalyst, explores the Erso family’s relationship to both Orson Krennic and Saw Gerrera.

Saw Gerrera is just one example of how Rogue One is more than a prequel. Regardless of whether you prescribe to the idea that the Star Wars Saga comprises separate eras, the series features different generations. And Rogue One‘s mission will be to bridge the gap from one generation — that of Gerrera and Rebel leader Mon Mothma, both Clone Wars veterans — to the next generation, represented by Jyn Erso. It’s up to Rogue One to show fans how a standalone prequel can move Star Wars forward into the future. [James Akinaka]


James Akinaka
James Akinaka arrives at Fandom by way of Wookieepedia. He covers Star Wars, superheroes, and animation and has mastered the art of nitpicking. Since he works in publishing, he reads far too many books.
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