This article has been updated following news that a spin-off novel, called Guardians of the Whills, featuring Rogue One characters Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus is being released. Scroll down to the bottom to read the added content about our hopes for a possible Chirrut and Baze spin-off movie.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has always been billed as a stand-alone addition to the Star Wars universe. However, Rogue One spin-off opportunities abound.
At this point, we have to pause to issue a SPOILER WARNING. Read on ONLY if you’ve seen Rogue One or don’t mind learning plot details.
While it’s true to say that most of the characters resist inclusion in any future sequels (due to the fact that they die – we said there would be spoilers), Rogue One is far from stand-alone. Consider how closely it’s tied to A New Hope, the chapter in the saga that immediately follows. The two films are directly adjoined in the film’s rousing finale.
They’re calling Rogue One ‘stand-alone’ presumably because, if we’re talking about making new films, it can’t go anywhere new in a linear sense. But that’s only because it already goes somewhere else. Namely, the original 1977 Star Wars movie and the events that unfold through The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
The term ‘stand-alone’ is problematic for another reason. It suggests you don’t need to see any of the other films to enjoy or make sense of it. The film surely loses impact, though, if you don’t know what comes after. If you’re coming to Rogue One a Star Wars virgin, so to speak, you may find yourself scratching your head. You’ll also probably feel emotionally under-invested. It’s very much a crucial piece of the Star Wars puzzle; a story that fills gaps and one which fans have been looking forward to seeing. It’s hugely dependent on existing fan knowledge.
With all this in mind, Fandom got to thinking about Rogue One’s inaccurate ‘stand-alone’ status and how a number of its characters are ripe for exploring in their own spin-off movies…
K-2SO Runs Amok
Alan Tudyk recently told Empire that he’d like to see K-2SO – the droid he voices in Rogue One – team up with his human counterpart, Cassian Andor, in a buddy comedy. What we’d really like to see, however, is a film that shows us what he was like before he was re-programmed by the Rebel Alliance.
A former Imperial droid, K-2SO is quick-witted and sarcastic, and loves a bit of mean-spirited banter with Jyn Erso. The vast majority of Imperial droids seen throughout the Star Wars films perform their duties entirely without banter. The Rebellion’s droids, on the other hand, are often seen as quirky and funny with human-like personalities. Just like the re-programmed K-2SO. There’s the prissy, hilarious C-3PO, and everybody’s favourite astromech droid – R2-D2 – the mischievous robot sidekick with maverick tendencies. The experiences of these two Star Wars droids were explored in the animated series “Droids“.
What we want to know, though, is whether K-2SO always had these characteristics in his personality. Or did they only reveal themselves with his re-programming? How much of his personality is part of his mechanical make-up, and how much is learned behaviour? A film exploring the Empire’s droid community could reveal more about this under-explored segment of the Star Wars universe. Perhaps it could even bring audiences an artificial intelligence movie? A film revolving around a robot revolt as droids become sentient would be timely and relevant, taking its cue from the likes of “Westworld”.
Cassian Andor’s Darker Side
In Rogue One, leading man Cassian Andor hints at his past as a member of the Rebel Alliance. He admits to doing things in the name of the Rebellion that he isn’t proud of. He doesn’t go into detail. However, we are given a glimpse of the sort of thing he’s had to do when Cassian executes Tivik, who has brought him vital information for his mission.
Attentive viewers questioned Cassian’s actions from a moral standpoint – but here was a guy who was near-hysterical and about to get them both caught, or killed. He also had a bad arm meaning he couldn’t climb to escape – he was a liability to Cassian who had a duty to carry out his mission for the cause.
These darker depths are intriguing. In Star Wars, on the whole, good guys are good, and bad guys are bad. There are one or two examples of exceptions throughout the universe, where characters behave in ways that contradict that. There’s Lando Calrissian, for one, who betrays his friends for his own gain and Han Solo, who initially joins the Rebellion for selfish reasons. He also famously shoots Greedo first. In Cassian, we meet a character like this, who shows us that sometimes the good guys can be conflicted and might do things that perhaps aren’t moral.
We’d love to see Cassian’s past explored in more depth in a gritty take on his involvement in the Rebellion. It might reveal more characters like Saw Gerrera whose methods and motivations are unorthodox. It might also show the sacrifices Cassian and others who have dedicated their lives to fighting the Empire have made.
Saw Gerrera: Metal Legs and Extremism
Saw Gerrera’s fleeting appearance in Rogue One may have been brief, but it was certainly memorable. Saw Gerrera is one of the more developed Rogue One characters within the extended Star Wars universe. He features in “The Clone Wars” animated TV series. He'll also pop up in the new season of "Star Wars Rebels” in January, and will be voiced by Forest Whitaker.
This means that there is already a wealth of material to draw on to develop the character for a starring role in his own movie spin-off. It also suggests that Whitaker would be willing to pick it up again in another big-screen outing.
We’d love to see the interim period filled in between Gerrera taking in Jyn Erso as a child and the moment they meet years later. His metal legs, Vader-like breathing apparatus and extremist leanings must tell quite a story. Plus, we’d love to see more of Forest Whitaker’s big performance.
Cornelius Evazan Horror Story
A character memorable enough to warrant a cameo in Rogue One, Cornelius Evazan first appeared in Episode IV. He famously picks on an unsuspecting Luke Skywalker in the cantina bar on Mos Eisley. He tells him his companion, Ponda Baba, doesn’t like him. He then threateningly tells Luke, “I have the death sentence on 12 systems”. In Rogue One, the duo pull a similar act with Cassian and Jyn in a busy marketplace on Jedha.
When actor Michael Smiley recently revealed he played the role of Dr Evazan in the latest instalment, we were reminded of the character’s interesting back story.
Once a cosmetic surgeon, Evazan went insane and started performing experimental surgery on his patients, horrifically disfiguring them. Hideously maimed himself at the hands of a bounty hunter, Evazan was rescued by Ponda Baba after which the pair teamed up as criminal cohorts.
Imagine a spin-off that delves into Cornelius Evazan’s past. We’re intrigued as to how these two mismatched rogues actually bonded, for one thing. Following in the footsteps of Rogue One's grittier approach, it could be a dark and horrific addition to the series. Imagine strong horror elements, and scenes reminiscent of Dr Arden’s operations in Season 2 of “American Horror Story”.
Orson Krennic: Teen Angst
It’s always fun to delve into the dark side, and Rogue One gives us a villain in Orson Krennic we love to hate. Flouncing around with a face like thunder in a floaty white cape without a care for the poor person who might have to wash it, Krennic is a flashy and pretentious bully prone to lashing out. He is also desperate to make a name for himself.
You can see the resentment and ambition bubbling inside Krennic and we relish the scenes where he’s put in his place by both Darth Vader and Tarkin. People often say that bullies have been bullied themselves, and this seems true in the case of Krennic.
This, of course, makes him an interesting character with quite a bit of depth. We’d like to see a spin-off film that explores Krennic’s teenage years to show us why he still holds onto all this angst. Did he have any friends? What were his parents like? What did he want to be when he grew up? What led him down the path he took? Did someone used to steal his lunch money?
Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus Backstory
With the announcement that two of the best characters from Rogue One will be featured in their own spin-off novel, it got us thinking about whether Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus might get their own standalone movie.
Perhaps two of the more obvious contenders for spin-off treatment, it’s not really surprising that a novel has been commissioned. It will be written by comic book writer Greg Rucka, who’s worked for both DC Comics and Marvel. A synopsis has already been released, which reveals that the book will focus on a period of time shortly before the events of Rogue One.
The official synopsis, posted on StarWars.com, is this:
Baze and Chirrut used to be Guardians of the Whills, who looked after the Kyber Temple on Jedha and all those who worshipped there. Then the Empire came and took over the planet. The temple was destroyed and the people scattered. Now Baze and Chirrut do what they can to resist the Empire and protect the people of Jedha, but it never seems to be enough. When a man named Saw Gerrera arrives with grand plans to take down the Empire, it seems like the perfect way for Baze and Chirrut to make a real difference and help the people of Jedha. But will it come at too great a cost?
It seems a no-brainer that any spin-off film involving Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus would revolve around Jedha. And while we’re all for filling in the immediate backstory leading up to the story Rogue One tells, we’re also interested in learning more about these guys from further back.
The proposed story focuses on the immediate aftermath of the Empire's arrival on Jedha, and Chirrut and Baze's involvement with thwarting them alongside Saw Gerrera. But a film about Chirrut and Baze could explore the origins of the Jedi in far greater depth. While the Force, and the Jedi and the Sith, have featured strongly in the cinematic universe, there’s never been an in-depth look at the Force and the origins of those who utilise it, or are attuned to it.
We’d like to see a story set slightly further back than the novel promises, with the Empire’s invasion about to happen rather than having already happened. This would give us a chance to see Baze and Chirrut doing their jobs as Guardians of the Whills, protecting the Kyber crystals that the Empire is intent on plundering. It could also reveal more about the Kyber Temple, its importance, and those that worship there.
It could even delve further into the past, via flashback perhaps, and give us an insight into the establishment of this ancient temple – and the folks who built it.
One of the most appealing things about the Chirrut and Baze we meet in Rogue One is their relationship. They’re like mismatched cops who’ve gone through the awkward hating-each-other stage and on to striking up a bromance. We’d like to see the struggle they went through to get to where they are to add colour – maybe done in the style of Lethal Weapon.
With so many intriguing characters and untold stories not only in Rogue One but also throughout the wider Star Wars universe, there’s basically an inexhaustible supply of spin-off opportunities. Got an idea? Maybe you should pitch it…