Knowing that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be a prequel (of some sorts) might make some fans doubt the quality of the film. Yes, they will do that, well before actually seeing a single clip from it - isn't this what fans do when they have high expectations? Of course it is. And the expectations are high especially now, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens has proven to be the biggest hit of the past 7 years.
So what can we expect from this prequel which isn't exactly a prequel? Well, Rogue One will be about how the Rebel Alliance managed to steal Death Star plans from the empire, after some fierce battles. But it will also be about the Empire while it was at the height of its power and about what life felt during that period of time.
The cast can be called a stellar one and includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, and Alan Tudyk. At the helm is Gareth Edwards, famous especially for 2014's Godzilla - basically, this movie cannot fail.
Of course, there are those who say that Rogue One shouldn't happen, especially since everybody knows that the plans of the Death Star will be stolen, they will end up in R2-D2, and the Empire's biggest weapon will be obliterated. But the same can be said about so many things"¦
So what do we know so far about this movie?
An expansion of the Star Wars Universe
As said, the movie can be seen as a prequel of A New Hope, placed between the 6th and the 3rd episodes of the Star Wars saga. But Rogue One is much more than just that. In a way, it is what Prometheus was intended to be for the Alien Universe - shedding some light on the unknown events, barely mentioned in any of the movies.
Thus, Rogue One will expand the story encompassed in the opening of the opening crawl for A New Hope - "It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet." (via Star Wars Wikia)
Essentially, this will be the first Star Wars flick which won't be centered on the Skywalkers, with many believing that there won't be any Force sensitive characters in the movie (though we doubt it). It is rumored that the main cast (well, not all of them, just those in the pic above) won't be members of the Alliance at all, but rather a group of bounty-hunters hired to steal the Death Star plans.
Which is an interesting approach, since this will also make Rogue One the first Star Wars story to be a heist movie (hopefully, not in the goofy-early-James-Bond-y veins of Ant-Man). Will Gareth Edwards pull it through?
Vader will be in it (and Han Solo may cameo)
The most recent rumor says that none other than Darth Vader will make an appearance in Rogue One, most likely in the third act, at the end of the big battle (battle teased by the concept art above). Who says that?
Making Star Wars, which has a great track with the rumors concerning the Star Wars Universe, says that the designers were asked to literally replicate the suit worn by the Sith in A New Hope. To what end, if not for a special appearance?
Other websites have also picked this up and continued saying that he is the reason why the battle proves to be a bloody one - Vader is supposedly going to destroy all the bounty hunters who stole the Death Star plans.
The new Han Solo is also expected to make an appearance, before his first solo flick (2018) - though this is a bit of a stretch, based on the fact that the studio is already searching for an actor. Nonetheless, if he will indeed appear, it will be just a small cameo from his part.
Connections to Rebels
Speaking of other connections to the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One will also be tied in some way to the animated TV series Star Wars: Rebels. This shouldn't be taken with a pinch of salt, since producer Simon Kinberg said, last year, "absolutely there's been conversation about it. That this story could be a story that crosses over into other films, whether it's A New Hope or other movies. And that movies could potentially even enter into our timeline and our moment. It's a big galaxy. So, you know, things are happening all over the place that don't necessarily have to react to each other, the way we react to news around the world. We never meet the Chilean miners that are trapped in that mine. We know about it and the world reacts to it. So each of the different stories has to acknowledge the reality of what's ever happening in that moment in time." (via Slash Film)
Basically, it is the same recipe used by Marvel in its TV series, with the Avengers mentioned all over the place. Which won't be a bad thing for Rogue One, unless the writers will overdo it with the references.
And there is also another hint that this will happen, since Gary Whitta (scribe for Rogue One) was also approached to write one of the episodes of Star Wars: Rebels.
Speaking of which, there are rumors saying that Felicity Jones' character from Rogue One is actually Star Wars: Rebels' Sabine Wren. But this one is such a big stretch"¦ or isn't it?
The Galactic Empire
If there was something lacking from the original Star Wars trilogy, that was the sense that the Empire actually existed and that the Sith (and their followers) were the ones pulling all the strings. Of course, this seems a bit too much to say - but the thing is that everything happened so far away, that we were merely spectators. We weren't sucked into the actually worlds rules by the malevolent Force users.
It falls onto Rogue One to present us this side of the story and show us what it meant to live in terror. After all, the D25 event from last year featured this Obi-Wan line from A New Hope: "For more than a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire."
So the perspective will be different, in the sense that it will be the ordinary people the ones who face the Empire.
As a comparison, we may see similar scenes such as the ones in The Force Awakens, when an entire village was slaughtered (of course, scenes on a larger scale). And we should see that, the Empire exerting its force in the far-away regions of the galaxy, since quite a few years will have passed since the events of Revenge of the Sith.
But what happens in the other regions, the ones which were already subdued?
The grey area
Just like with any other kind of established dictatorship, we don't expect for the Empire to be seen as being evil throughout the entire galaxy. The best example comes via The Force Awakens, with the Stormtroopers raised to believe all the propaganda the First Order fed to them. Could this be the case of the Empire as well?
Most likely, since Gareth Edwards said about Rogue One that the fight between good and evil won't be so transparent, leading to "that polarized event that is A New Hope. It's about the realities of war. Good guys are bad, bad guys are good - it's a complicated place to set a movie." (via Empire Online).
So, basically, the Rebel Alliance will be seen throughout the galaxy as being the evil ones, trying to overthrow the order which came with the Empire. Is this what the director says? Apparently, yes. And there is also another point of view in which we can see this grey area: the one of the shifting loyalties.
The Jedi are all but extinct, so they cannot act as beacons of morality - let alone fight with the Sith. Normal people will be the ones to do that - and normal people are much easier to corrupt then the Jedi. And this, basically, means that an Empire agent may have been infiltrated into the Alliance’s lines, or the other way around. And this is where it can get even more interesting.
Since the rumor of Darth Vader's appearance popped on the web, everybody started believing that Mads Mikkelsen will be the one to portray him. We highly doubt it.
First of all, since he was announced for Rogue One, Mads has signed quite a few autographs with the name Galen - who is known as being none other than the most famous pupil of Vader. But we doubt that the actor will bring Starkiller to life. Instead, we believe that this is just a hint for the arc of the character he'll portray.
In The Force Unleashed, after being betrayed by Vader for a couple of times, Galen switched sides and embraced his Jedi origins, siding with the rebels. Basically, he was the one to aid the Alliance into making its first true steps towards the defeat of the Empire.
In a way, we believe that Mads Mikkelsen's role from Rogue One will mirror this story. Thus, according to the same Making Star Wars website, this new character will be the one to come up with the design of the Death Star. However, after witnessing the atrocities the Empire commits, he joins the Alliance and helps them come up with a plan to destroy the super-weapon.
Which makes sense, seeing how easily the Death Star was destroyed. Who knows? Maybe this new character is the one to purposely come up with a faulty design"¦
Rogue One and The Force Awakens
One of the wackiest theories on the web is that Rogue One will be the one to present the beginning of the Knights of Ren. And this theory is based on the official pic released for Rogue One and Rey's flashback - 2 of the characters from the former resemble 2 of the characters from the later.
This theory is also based (partly) on what Adam Driver said about the Knights of Ren: "a group that existed before him, that he was a part of. Their place within everything is maybe more of a satellite group than I would say "¦ This is really tricky." (via Slash Film)
And this is indeed tricky - even if, in a way, it shows how grey the grey area really is. If the bounty-hunters sent after the Death Star plans survive, they may switch sides (in a way) and become adepts of Vader. Maybe they witness his tremendous power and are seduced"¦ who knows?
An epic battle
One of the concept art pieces released for the movie teases an epic battle between the Empire and the Alliance. Apparently, Gareth Edwards has decided to shoot part of Rogue One with 70mm Ultra Panavision anamorphic lenses, for an extra-wide view. Are these special lenses intended for this battle alone?
Most likely. As the concept art shows, the battle will feature everything from foot soldiers to spaceships. And, given the foggy-rainy-muddy atmosphere, a wide view can help the audience understand the scale of the battle.
Furthermore, it can also help with the director, who intends to have a realistic approach towards the movie. Remember the intro to Saving Private Ryan? This could be even better than that.