Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has descended upon us and in just one month has already grossed over a billion dollars at the box office worldwide . I think it’s safe to say that the Disney/Lucasfilm powers-that-be and the Star Wars Story Group are high-fiving each other for a job well done all the way to the bank.
That said, a weird thought after occurred to me after seeing Rogue One for the third time. A thought that hadn’t crossed my mind before now. Which in and of itself is interesting, because I think about Star Wars….a lot! Like all the time…much to my wife’s chagrin. But I digress.
So what’s that thought, you ask?
It’s the realization that Rogue One and the next two anthology films – or Star Wars Stories if we must – aren’t as “standalone” as we’re led to believe. Work with me here for a minute…
Rogue One + A New Hope = One Awesomely Long Movie!
Sure, Rogue One is technically a standalone film in the sense that the story has has a concise beginning, middle and end. And yes, Rogue One doesn’t necessarily require a viewer to know anything about any other Star Wars movie to enjoy it (although it helps).
The reality is that Rogue One as a film serves the purpose to deepen the mythology of the greater Star Wars universe by recounting the details of how once anonymous rebels won their first major battle against the Empire and made off with the plans to the Death Star.
Another way to say it is that Rogue One directly informs the story of A New Hope.
So in my mind, Rogue One isn’t a standalone story. It’s a tangent to the storyline of the Skywalker saga. The story was created based off a sentence from the opening crawl of A New Hope and fills in a part of the story that only previously existed in our imagination (Star Wars Legends material notwithstanding).
In the end, Rogue One has reshaped how I view the original Star Wars movie. There’s more depth to the overall film now than there was before Rogue One (BRO?). There’s a somber knowledge knowing that the Death Star plans which were once upon a time obtained by nameless, faceless rebel spies were actually pilfered by a band of distinct Rebels. Rebels with a cause. Rebels coming together to complete a mission that even members of their own alliance thought impossible.
These Rebels now have names. They all have a story. And they all came together to fight the Empire even if it meant sacrificing themselves for the Rebel Alliance.
And because of all that, I just don’t see Rogue as a standalone movie. It directly connects to all the existing mythology of the canon Star Wars Universe. I don’t know about you, but as I binge watch Star Wars flicks from here on out, Rogue One will now be watched after Revenge of the Sith, and before A New Hope.
If it were truly a standalone film, I’d imagine I would feel comfortable watching Rogue One after watching Episodes I through IX in order (looking forward to when that day arrives!). But that’s just not the case. This movie has a very specific place in the timeline of events that directly connects to the movies before and after it in the overall timeline.
To borrow the parlance from The Phantom Menace…you must understand that Rouge One and A New Hope form a symbiotic relationship. You cannot view one without watching the other.
I know I might be arguing semantics here when it comes to the word ‘standalone’. However based on what was said about these new movies, the impression I always got was that these were supposed to be self contained films that had no bearing on the overall saga of the Skywalkers.
Make no mistake, Rogue One was a safe and intentional choice to be the first one of these films. Because it expanded on the story of A New Hope, it was able to reach the much larger audience of casual Star Wars fans.
Think about it like this. Let’s say for whatever reason, Disney decided to bring Ahsoka Tano to the big screen for the very first Star Wars Story. While a niche audience of Star Wars fans would have squee’d like nerf-herders about this, the average Star Wars fan would have been like…who?
And let’s face it, Disney is all about making the most money possible. In order to do that, you have to appeal to the most people possible (and it helps to tell a good story I suppose). As much as I like Ahsoka, she’s just not going to bring the masses, the hype or the record breaking box office numbers.
But telling Ahsoka’s story, no matter when it was set, would have truly been a standalone film. She’s never appeared in an actual Star Wars film. Just two animated, albeit canon, television series and a book aptly titled Ahsoka.
What About The Next Star Wars Stories?
It’s not just Rogue One that was set up to introduce the idea of a non-Skywalker Star Wars movie. The forthcoming Han Solo film and rumored Boba Fett film aren’t going to be all that standalone either.
I have a feeling that after we see the Han Solo flick, it’s going to alter how we view certain scenes in Empire Strikes Back – much like Rogue One has altered how we view A New Hope. Knowing that Lando Calrissian will be in the movie, and we’re more than likely going to see how Han (not so) squarely and fairly won the Millennium Falcon from Lando – how can you ever watch that scene in Empire when Han, Leia & Co. are escaping Hoth trying to find a place to lay low for a while?
And even though you and I know how the Han/Lando relationship works out in the end, think about how the Han Solo film can potentially inform the events of Empire for someone who hasn’t seen it before.
If the story beats of the Han Solo film play out they way I think they’re going to, when watching Empire the newbie would be yelling at their screen “Don’t go to Bespin. Do NOT go to Bespin!! Lando is still pissed at you dude. I’ve got a bad feeling about this!”.
Same thing with the renewed rumors of the third Star Wars Story being based on Boba Fett. I highly doubt we’re going to get a standalone Boba Fett film where here’s just cruising the galaxy collecting on bounties while pimping around in the Slave I.
If I were a betting man I’d wager that we’re going to get a Boba Fett film that opens up with our favorite bad guy fighting his way out of the Sarlaac Pit and reintroducing him to the post Return of the Jedi timeline.
You can’t deny it, the masses want more Fett and the way to give his story impact and meaning (as well as leave room for including him in other films) is to bring him back to life. While telling a standalone story of his bounty hunting exploits could be fun, it wouldn’t add to the overall mythology.
Expanding the Stories We Already Know
You should see by know what I’m overtly suggesting here. These films aren’t truly standalone stories. The more akin to being a smaller part of a greater tapestry. All the threads weave together even if these stories only represent a smaller part of the overall picture.
To be more precise…
- Rogue One informs event in A New Hope
- Han Solo film informs relationships in The Empire Strikes Back
- Boba Fett film ties into Return of the Jedi
Each of these first three spinoff films serve to expand on the stories of the movies that already exist.
And if you extrapolate that, and apply it to what we’ve heard about other potential Star Wars Stories, you can see a pattern emerge…
An Obi-Wan Kenobi movie would inform the audience what happens to him after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope.
A Mace Windu film would tell the story of how he survived his battle with Palpatine and went on to become Snoke (kidding…just couldn’t resist).
Heck, even a Knights of the Old Republic movie could add fascinating historical context to the state of the Jedi and Sith as we enter the era of The Phantom Menace.
I honestly think it will be a long time coming before we see a true standalone Star Wars film that has no connection to the overall story that’s being told in each of the saga episodes.
Would I like to see Dr. Aphra on some wacky adventure with Triple Zero and BT-1 along for the ride? Actually, yes I would.
How about seeing Ezra, Kanan, Sabine, Hera, Zeb and Chopper in a live action movie that doesn’t tie into the Rebel Alliance or Rogue One? Absolutely!
Maybe one day we’ll get something like that, but just like we’re not going to get a Marvel movie that doesn’t tie in to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe we’re not going to get a true standalone Star Wars film anytime soon.
What do you think about the new Star Wars Stories? Share your thoughts in the comments below!