Last week, Lucasfilm announced the title of the first Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One. And this has us excited for a movie that's hopefully about badass X-Wing pilots. But will this film live up to its soaring potential? Here are all the things we need to see from Star Wars: Rogue One.
Newly cast Felicity Jones could potentially be joining some of the most beloved characters from Star Wars' former pantheon. The Rogue group made their début in Empire Strikes Back, but went on to gain a legendary reputation in the Expanded Universe, most notably in the beloved X-Wing book series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston. The very best the Rebel Alliance had to offer, this squadron of X-Wing pilots was home to familiar names like Wedge Antilles and Luke Skywalker (and less familiar movie characters like Zev Senesca, "Hobbie" Klivian and Wes Janson), but also a host of new characters, including ormer imperials like Tycho Celchu, aliens like the Duros Lensi, and plenty of female pilots too like Kasan Moor and Plourr Illo. The Star Wars films may have given us a variety pilots to root for, but the Rogues represented a diverse best of the best, and the chance to see versions of characters that fans have adored for decades coming to the big screen is incredibly enticing.
But the Rogues aren't the only elite Rebel pilot squad. There was also Wraith Squadron.
Unlike Rogue Squadron, who at least get an on-screen appearance in Empire Strikes Back's Battle of Hoth, the Wraiths were exclusively a creation of the Expanded Universe. Their nature as a crack squad of pilots that performed missions in space and on the ground (which, weirdly enough, in the EU was pretty much unheard of when they were founded) fits a touch better than even Rogue Squadron does, based on the little we know so far. Concept art for the film shown at Disney's shareholder meeting was described as depicting a group of commando-esque people who were decidedly non-X-Wing pilot-looking, but given the Wraith Squadron's nature as ground-and-air operatives it could totally fit for them.
There were some marvelously interesting characters in the group — they're almost similar to DC's Suicide Squad, in that they're not exactly the straight laced goodie-goodie heroes of the Rebel Alliance, but people with dark pasts and hard edges, put together to work on the most dangerous missions thrown at them. There was Gara Petothel, a female former Imperial Intelligence officer who defected to the Wraiths (and joined them full time after planning to re-defect); Garik Loran, a former holovid star who filmed Imperial propaganda before becoming a Rebel; and Voort "Piggy" saBinring, a biogenetically engineered Gamorrean who was both a master pilot and a mathematical genius. Yeah, one of those green pig-guys who guarded Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi.
Sadly, I'm not sure a Gamorrean X-Wing Pilot will make it to the big screen, but come on. Tell me you wouldn't watch that guy!
Rogue Squadron, Wraith Squadron, or an amalgamation of the two — either way we want to see some kickass pilots in this movie.
If there's going to be a movie about Rogue Squadron, that can only mean one thing: fabulous, fabulous spacefighter dogfights. Who isn't excited about that?
The battles of Yavin and Endor are some of the most exciting sequences in the entire Star Wars saga, and the weaving twirls and spins of X-Wings and TIE Fighters swirling through red and green laser fire around capital ships is a powerfully potent image that is seared into the minds of fans (and gamers alike, given the reverence for games like Tie Fighter, X-Wing and, of course, Rogue Squadron). An entire movie dedicated to the adventures of elite pilots blasting their way through the skies and into space? I'll take all of the tickets, please.
Plus, it would also be something new for Star Wars. Huge space battles have played integral parts of the saga, but allowing Rogue One to focus on them means other elements can be focused on elsewhere. There's no doubt there'll be some shootouts in The Force Awakens, but a lot of what we've heard about it so far hasn't really detailed that, instead focusing on the escapades of what's going on "on the ground", so to speak. So while we might find ourselves mostly grounded in Episode VII, Rogue One would be a great chance for plenty of spaceship action, something a little different in this new wave of Star Wars movies.
What makes the Rogues so interesting as well is that on the whole, they're just the men, women and aliens of the Star Wars galaxy. They're pilots —extraordinary pilots for sure, but they're not Jedi or senators or even the grandest of commanders. They're the people on the front lines of space combat. They're the badass normals we need and love in our fiction, and it's great that we could be getting a movie with nary a lightsaber in sight.
I've written before about Star Wars' need to move away from its focus on the mysticism and pre-destined specialness of the Jedi and the Force, and Rogue One could be the very thing to do that for the movies. Let The Force Awakens give us Jedi and Sith madness out the wazoo. let Rogue One tell the story of the normal guys standing up and becoming heroes, not just because it's their destiny or because they have magical powers, but simply because it's what they believe is the right thing to do. The galaxy could always use a few more ordinary heroes.
Spaceships and badass pilots aside, there's an even bigger reason to be excited about Rogue One: it's going to be one of the first big steps into this new, grand iteration of a galaxy far, far away. It's something new in a universe we're already intimately familiar with, and that's an incredibly exciting opportunity.
One of the greatest criticisms of Star Wars' spinoff media in the past — and arguably in its canonical entries like the prequels or the Clone Wars cartoon as well — is that it seemingly always did its darnedest to tie everything together on a micro scale, to the point that the galaxy always felt much smaller for it. Characters we know and love repeatedly pop up again and again, sometimes as younger versions, sometimes older. If we meet someone new, there stands a good chance of them being related to someone we've already met. Star Wars is meant to be space opera on the grandest of scales, but it's largely told through the lens of just a handful of people. For all of the immensity of its telling of the rise and fall of Empires and Republics, it can feel incredibly tiny sometimes.
Although the Rogue Squadron is a concept expanded universe readers are familiar with already, and although it is linked to characters we already know like Wedge Antilles and Luke Skywalker, on the whole it's something we've never experienced in big screen Star Wars. By the movie's release next year, the new "everything matters" Star Wars universe will be well established. On a cinematic level Rogue One is, to borrow a phrase from Obi-Wan, our first step into a larger world.
Star Wars will be a much better place for it, and we can't wait. Bring on the Rogues!