The sun is shining, and the wind is blowing. She limps quickly out on the elevated platform, blaster drawn. Out beyond her the horizon stretches and fades into the deep blue water. She continues. To what end, for what purpose, we don’t know, but she moves with determination and grit–her face locked for confrontation. Then, rising before her, like an eye with a menacing gaze, the TIE fighter… and in that moment a million nerd brains suddenly cry out and are suddenly amazed.
We waited, we sweated, we endured. Then we rejoiced. With two short minutes, Rogue One is poised to launch the franchise to uncharted territory, maybe. It’s new and it’s bold. It is different and out of sync. Movie goers may be thinking: “Who are Rey’s parents?” “What’s the deal with Snoke?” “I want LUKE!” And the story group responds with this trailer, “Well, screw you. You can wait an extra year. We got a Star Wars story for you.” And so here we are. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Lucasfilm is changing the game. They are stepping outside the saga for the first time to give us a different look to give us a new cast of players that deviate from the ongoing timeline. Lucasfilm is taking a bit of a risk with this story. Or are they ? Haven’t we had this all along with the EU? When you think about it, all of the EU was outside of the saga films. We just never got to see it play out in a movie. We had cartoons and comics. A bunch of video games as well. And a whole lot of books. We got a glimpse, mostly with our mind’s eye. With Rogue One, however, we are getting that look.
When I watched the Olympic trailer for the 15th time I realized we are getting the expanded universe in movie form. Moreover, we are getting new expanded universe. Rogue One is the first cinematic expansion. Seems obvious of course, but I never really looked at it that way. I was thinking in terms of marketing–of the fact that this movie doesn’t have a Roman numeral. That somehow it is foreign and a major risk. But the trailer has all the hallmarks of the expanded universe. Familiar, though different, worlds. Ships. Droids. And mostly, like the books, we get new characters. The entire main cast is a new collection of heroes and villains. And what a collection it is.
- Jyn Erso has the potential to compete with Mara Jade in terms of a strong character that has a lasting impact with the fans. She has a backstory and complexity, and it drives her and propels her into action.
- Cassian Andor, so far, is portrayed with paternal weariness and unflinching commitment. There is part Wedge and part Poe there. I think he will be the steady voice in the midst of chaos and ruin.
- Bodhi Rook, Baze Malbus, and Chirrut Imwe will contribute as supporting characters do, but here they will serve to directly enhance the themes of the film. They fight because they must. “All is as the Force wills it.”
- K-2SO is just awesome. No analysis needed.
- Director Orson Krennic has the best cape in town. I suspect he will also be a great counterpoint to Vader.
And like the books, we get familiar faces a well. Mon Mothma, Bail Organ and Saw Gerrera, though he’s not a saga character (I think we would all pay big money just to have a whole movie of Forest Whitaker reciting dialogue for 120 minutes), and a multitude of troopers and pilots. Perhaps this isn’t such a big risk after all. I have yet to see one image from this movie that hasn’t caused mass excitement, that hasn’t gotten me to think “holy shit, I haven’t seen that before!” Which is kind of surprising considering how many times I’ve actually seen a Star Destroyer before. Plus, there is this:
Which eliminates another risk–confusion. Is a casual fan going to really care that there is no BB-8? Maybe. Maybe not. Based on what we have seen so far it is reasonable that this movie will eliminate expectations and entertain us on its own. Marketing may not have to explain the timeline or how the plot fits relative to other films. I can’t imagine someone walking out of the theater mad that Rey wasn’t in this movie. It’s still Star Wars, but it is something different. Something a little EU. Something Awesome. In December we will see how it plays out, but I’m ready.
P.S. Space Monkey!