This month marks the release of the first stand-alone film of the Star Wars Anthology series: Rogue One. While the movie has been received with high praise and adoration from fans around the world, it has also served as a reminder of what has been lost with JJ Abrams’ reboot of Star Wars. With the announcement of The Force Awakens, many fans felt a great disturbance at the declaration of the discontinuation of the Star Wars Expanded Universe being canon to the story (Now called Star Wars Legends). Everything that had been true to the universe was suddenly cast out, and that included the much beloved Rogue Squadron.
Member Rogue Squadron?
After the battle of Yavin that saw the fall of the Death Star (Episode 4) to the hands of the Rebellion, the survivors of Red Squadron, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, were placed in command of the newly formed and minted Rogue Fleet. They served alongside another starfighter group called Renegade Fleet as the main fighting force of what the Rebellion had to bare. 3 years after the fall of the Death Star, Rogue and Renegade Fleets had succeeded at a number of missions; some as small as rescuing POWs from slavery and some as large as evacuating an entire city while under Imperial assault. Despite their successes, it was the battle of Hoth that changed it all.
Not included in picture: the comic book series, novel series, or 3 following video games. Seriously, these guys were busy!
Before the events of The Empire Strikes Back takes place, Renegade Fleet is wiped out. Shortly after the Empire invades Hoth and a large portion of Rogue Fleet is decimated during the retreat. From the ashes, Luke leaves to seek training on Dagobah and Wedge Antilles consolidates the Rebel forces and creates Rogue Squadron – the best and brightest of those who survived this far. What made them different to the alliance, however, is that this Squadron was designed to be a unit that had no set mission profile – their goal was to be available to tackle any incident that came their way and serve as the Alliance’s rapid response team. While it was rare, at times Luke would return and fly with the fleet under the call-sign Rogue Leader, while Wedge Antilles used the name: Rogue One.
The Potential Hype
The stories surrounding Rogue Squadron cover more than half a century, continuing far past the fall of the Empire and the destruction of the second Death Star. Even with the canon wipe, the potential for story telling was limitless with this Rogue Squadron (the galaxy is a pretty big place after all). Aside from Luke Skywalker, Rogue Squadron was the single greatest contributor to the success of the Rebellion. So when Rogue One was announced I, like many others, felt that at last, we were going to get one of the greatest stories of the Rebellion told on the big screen. With the name Rogue One, who else could it be?
What? If it wasn’t Wedge Antilles than why not Poe Dameron?
What We Got
Please don’t misunderstand me, Rogue One was a great movie, but it wasn’t about the actual Rogue Squadron. What we got was a much needed, but not asked for, explanation of how the plucky and precocious rebels managed to destroy a massive, invincible battle station capable of eradicating entire worlds. Rather than Top Gun in space or a modern take on The Last Starfighter, we got Saving Private Ryan but Ryan was a hard drive. The story is one of tragic, gritty battles and the sacrifices of those who fought and died to bring the Rebellion this information.
Not the Bothans though, that’s the second Death Star.
What We Could’ve Had
One of the hardest parts of shooting a movie like Rogue One was the juggling act that director, Gareth Edwards, had to perform. He had to create a compelling story that did nothing to interfere with the timeline of a New Hope or Revenge of the Sith while creating a story that fans and newcomers alike would enjoy. Here is that spoiler you were warned about.
You knew it was coming
Rogue One solves its story problems by ensuring that all of its newly created characters and possible story lines come to an abrupt and tragic ending. Seriously, they all die. Now, I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good movie, or that killing everyone wasn’t a valid way to tie up loose ends but… we could’ve had it all. There was no need for it to end like that, with the canon ready to be re-written, we could have had a complete rebirth of Rogue Squadron. Then again, with how sequel happy Hollywood has been lately, maybe it’s a good thing that they committed to this being a stand alone film.