I don’t usually post anything on this blog that isn’t a review of some sort, but last year right before the release of The Force Awakens I wrote a short article about reasons why seeing the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga was going to be weird. Now, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story just days from release (it already premiered in Hollywood, which means spoilers are floating around out there. Be careful!) I thought I’d clear up some very common misconceptions about what this movie is. For the hardcore Star Wars fan, this stuff is obvious, but there seems to still be some confusion out there among the more casual crowd, so let’s see if I can help them out. Let’s get started!
Rogue One is NOT Star Wars: Episode VIII
I think by now most people know this, but I still see YouTube comments on the trailers from people who are confused as to why we don’t see Rey, Finn, Poe, or anyone from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens in the trailers for Rogue One. Simply put, Rogue One is NOT Star Wars Episode 8. It’s a standalone spin-off film that takes place right before A New Hope, and it doesn’t focus on the Skywalker family at all (well, except for the fact that Darth Vader is in it, I guess). It deals with the group of rebels who steal the Death Star plans that Leia has at the beginning of A New Hope, and rumor has it that this movie ends ten minutes before A New Hope starts. Episode 8 is coming out next year, and we’ll get to see the continuation of the story that was started in The Force Awakens then!
Rogue One is NOT the First Star Wars Spin-Off Movie
I keep seeing headlines and articles everywhere labeling Rogue One as “the first Star Wars spin-off” or “the first standalone Star Wars movie.” It’s not the first. It’s not even the second. Rogue One is actually the fifth Star Wars spin-off movie. The first was the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special that aired on TV a year after the original Star Wars movie played in theaters. Then, after Return of the Jedi, there were two Ewok movies that were made-for-TV. Then, in 2008, The Clone Wars movie opened in theaters and worked as a (very poor) introduction to the TV series that followed it. It hasn’t even been that long since the last Star Wars spin-off movie, and we’ve already forgotten about it!
In 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe (which essentially was every Star Wars book, comic, video game, and spin-off movie) was officially declared “non-canon.” Everything except for The Clone Wars movie and TV series. So, Rogue One isn’t even the first canon spin-off movie. The Clone Wars still holds that title.
Rogue One is NOT the First Star Wars Movie Without an Opening Crawl
This is basically a continuation of the last point, but the internet seems to be making a huge deal about this so I thought I’d bring it up. For some reason, when it was announced that Rogue One will not have an opening crawl, the internet blew up with people saying stuff like “you can’t have a Star Wars movie without an opening crawl!!” Well, you can actually. None of the previous Star Wars spin-off movies had opening crawls either. So Rogue One is the fifth Star Wars movies without an opening crawl.
Many Bothans Will Not Die in Rogue One
Ever since it was announced that Rogue One would be about the rebels who steal the Death Star plans, there have been jokes galore about how we’re going to see many Bothans die to get that information. Hold up, you’re wrong. First of all, the joke comes from Mon Mothma in Return of the Jedi, who after briefing the Rebel Alliance before their attack on the Death Star, says “many Bothans died to bring us this information.” But this was in Return of the Jedi, and she was talking about the second Death Star. Rogue One is about the first Death Star. On top of that, she wasn’t even talking about “plans” for the Death Star. The information she’s referring to was simply the location of the second Death Star, not the “plans” for it. So, I appreciate your efforts to be clever, but the joke doesn’t make sense.
With that said, Bothans could still die in this movie I guess, but not for the reasons you were thinking of.
As with any big movie, there are always plenty of rumors and misconceptions flying around all over the place. These are four of the big ones that I just keep seeing, so I hope this clears things up for people who have been confused!
Well, tomorrow is the big day. I have been waiting to see Star Wars Episode VII since I was a little kid. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled when the prequels started coming out, but I always wanted to know what happened after the Original Trilogy. That desire to know what happened to Luke, Leia, Han, and my other favorite characters from the original movies is what eventually led me to discover and fall in love with the Expanded Universe, because it told exactly those stories. For years, I thought I knew what happened after the movies.
Then, in April 2014 Lucasfilm declared that the Expanded Universe was no longer canon, so that those in charge of making the new films could have a clean slate to work with. Now once again I have that desire to know what comes next, and tomorrow I get to find out.
Though I am absolutely ecstatic about getting to see the movie I have been waiting for since I was a child, I have been thinking about why seeing this movie will be an odd experience compared to seeing the prequels when they were coming out. I came up with five main reasons why seeing Episode VII will be weird:
5. The Story of Anakin Skywalker
George Lucas has gone on record saying that the Star Wars saga was really the story of Anakin Skywalker, from his childhood to his death. Episodes 1-6 take us from Anakin’s childhood, to his rise as a Jedi Knight, to his fall to the dark side, and to his eventual redemption and death. To me, that’s what the Star Wars films have always been; the story of Anakin, or the story of Darth Vader.
Well, Anakin Skywalker already died in Return of the Jedi, so this new movie will be the first one that won’t be about Anakin’s life. From here on out, the Star Wars movies are not exclusively the tale of the life of Anakin Skywalker.
4. We Don’t Know What the Movie is About
Along the same lines as my previous point, we have no idea what this movie is going to be about (unless you went to the premiere in Hollywood on Monday). The promotion for this movie has done an excellent job of not giving anything away. Do you remember the trailer for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith? Well, it gave away basically the entire movie.
When the prequels came out, we didn’t know every little detail, but we did have a general idea of what we were going to see. We all knew the prequels were going to be about Anakin and his fall to the dark side. We knew we were going to see Anakin training with Obi-wan. We knew the Emperor was going to rise to power. We knew we were going to see the origins of Darth Vader. We knew all of that.
What do we know about The Force Awakens, or this new trilogy in general?
Not much at all.
We know the original cast is returning, we know some of the characters’ names (but we suspiciously don’t know their last names), and we’ve seen some cool footage in the trailers. Footage that hardly tells us anything about what the story is.
I have no idea what The Force Awakens is going to be about. And yet I’ve never been more excited to see a movie in my life. Which brings me to my next point…
3. The Hype for this Movie Might Never be Matched Again
When was the last time a movie has had this much hype leading up to its release? I can’t think of any time, ever. Not even for the prequels, and the hype for those movies was pretty huge. What was the last movie you had to buy tickets two months early for the chance to get to see it the day it opens? In the past year I have gone to see three big movies on opening night. You know how early I bought my tickets to see them? Like five minutes before the movie started. I had to buy Star Wars tickets two months before the movie comes out, and when the tickets went on sale all the major ticket selling websites crashed, which only added to the hype.
Two months before the movie was even out, The Force Awakens was already outselling other movies that were playing in theaters. This new Star Wars will likely break all kinds of records in movie history.
Oh yeah, and in case you forgot, this insane hype is all for a movie that none of us know anything about. This level of hype my never be reached again, at least for a Star Wars movie. Disney’s plan is to release a Star Wars movie every single year from now until the end of the world. They were surely all be successful, at least for the first decade, but none of them are going to be as big of a deal as STAR WARS EPISODE VII. Why? Because it’s Episode VII.
2. “In the books it was like this…”
Unlike most of the biggest film franchises right now, Star Wars was a movie before it was a book. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe… All of these are hugely successful film franchises, but every one of them is based on a series of novels or comic books. Because of that, with every single release of a new movie within those franchises comes the inevitable slew of comments and conversations about how the movie is inaccurate to the source material. Some people hate the movies simply because they don’t follow the books or comics perfectly.
That has never been the case with Star Wars. Though there are novels of Star Wars Episodes 1-6 (and another one for 7 on the way), they are all simply adaptations of the films that came first.
Well, for the first time in Star Wars film history, this new movie is going to be overwriting previously established Star Wars stories. Ever since 1991, with the release of Timothy Zahn’s novel Heir to the Empire, the story of Luke, Leia, and Han has been continued by many authors mainly through novels and comic books. For nearly 25 years these stories continued, and were considered the official continuation of the Star Wars saga right up until last year when Lucasfilm declared them all non-canon.
So now, even though this new movie is not an adaptation of any of those books, the inevitable comparisons to the books will still be made. For the first time in Star Wars history, there will be long discussions about how this movie is different than the books.
Considering this movie is supposed to take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, if it were to be following the books, this is what it would be like:
- Luke Skywalker has restored the Jedi Order, and there are now hundreds of Jedi Knights.
- Han and Leia would have three children; two twins named Jacen and Jaina, and a younger son named Anakin. All three of their children are Jedi Knights.
- Luke is married to a woman named Mara Jade, who was originally Emperor Palpatine’s assassin, and was once tasked with killing Luke before they fell in love. They have a son named Ben who is also a Jedi.
- Chewbacca would have died ten years before this movie takes place.
- The galaxy has been ravaged by an extra-galactic alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong. Many planets are in ruins.
That’s what some of the backstory for the new movie would have been, and there would be no sign of Rey, Finn, or Kylo Ren…
1. No 20th Century Fox Fanfare
Believe it or not, I think this is going to be the weirdest part about seeing the movie for me. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been watching Star Wars all my life, but starting a new Star Wars movie without hearing the famous 20th Century Fox Fanfare right before “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” appears on the screen is going to feel wrong.
This is the ultimate “shut up because a Star Wars movie is about to start!” music. You hear it, and you know that a few seconds after it ends you are going to be hearing the iconic Star Wars theme playing as yellow words start crawling up the screen. As silly as it is, the 20th Century Fox Fanfare is basically a part of the Star Wars theme music in my head. Heck, it’s so well recognized as a part of Star Wars music that they even included it on the soundtracks of the movies. Not having this play at the beginning of The Force Awakens is going to seriously mess with my head.
While this particular Star Wars experience might be a strange one, I absolutely cannot wait for it. For years people were saying that a Star Wars sequel trilogy was never going to happen, and yet here it is. Tomorrow night a childhood dream of mine will be coming true. This is a very exciting time to be a Star Wars fan!