We’re not entirely sure. We’re not even sure if we know why Rogue One is called Rogue One. Does anyone?
Speaking to Empire Magazine for their Rogue One cover story, Gareth Edwards was asked how the Rogue One name came about. His answer, posted in full below with commentary from the magazine, was... not exactly clear one way or the other:
“I’d been thinking about it,” he reflects in the new issue of Empire. “What does it mean? ‘Rogue One’ is a military call sign to some extent,” he adds, referring to Red Squadron during the Battle of Yavin, “but this is the first film that’s gone off-piste and is not part of the saga – or the Anakin story – so it’s the ‘rogue’ one, you know?”
There’s potentially another meaning to it too, relating to Felicity Jones’ interplanetary guerrilla Jyn Erso. She also has a rogue streak; a touch of the Han Solos in her drive to do what’s right, regardless of how much shit she has to blow up en route. “It’s kind of describing her as well in a similar way,” says Edwards. “It has [all] these split, multiple meanings that made it feel like the right choice.”
Does the title also, perhaps, apply to Edwards himself? “I don’t know…” he demurs, “I never see myself that way. But, er… that’d be cool! We tried to do things different, for sure.”
So to recap, Rogue One either means “Military Call Sign,” “A Star Wars movie that’s different to the other ones,” “Jyn Erso,” or, most perplexingly, “Gareth Edwards.” Very glad we cleared this up.
When the name was first announced, Star Wars fans’ hearts were all aflutter—surely it was a reference to Rogue Leader, the fighter pilot leader of the Rogue Squadron, created by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles! Maybe we’d be getting some kickass X-Wing pilots on daring missions for the Alliance! When more details about the movie’s story revealed that wasn’t the case, the name suddenly lost a lot of meaning for people without the context of having seen the movie.
Original script writer and die-hard Star Wars fan Gary Whitta gave Rogue One its name, so maybe it was just a nod to the fan favorite Rogues of Rogue Squadron from him. Maybe in some twisty, turny take on the new Star Wars canon, someone other than Luke and Wedge founds Rogue Squadron at the end of the movie (and then they don’t show up at Yavin but are around for the Battle of Hoth, which would be weird!). Maybe whatever or whoever ‘Rogue One’ is, it’s something we’ll learn in the movie, hence Edward’s long, winding non-answer to Empire above.
Maybe the Rogue One was inside of us all along. Who knows?