Fans of Shadows of the Empire may have been excited first hearing that Star Wars: Episode VII almost used that title, until they learned The Force Awakens ended up having nothing to do with the Star Wars book and video game of the same name.
Star Wars Legends (what the Expanded Universe was re-branded as) historians associate Shadows of the Empire with a fan-fave character known as Dash Rendar, a smuggler not unlike Han Solo, who hails from the same planet (Corellia) and pilots a similar starship to the Millennium Falcon, the Outrider. It’s the Shadows of the Empire where Rendar was first introduced alongside his trusty sidekick repair droid LE-BO2D9 (“Leebo”). Basically, yes, he’s Han Solo 2.0 and the droid is his Chewbacca, but he went on different adventures, had a different origin story, and fought some cool antagonists across various novels, comics, video games and card games.
So, when will Dash Rendar be introduced into canon like fellow Star Wars Legends character Grand Admiral Thrawn who’s become the big bad of Star Wars Rebels season 3? Well, he may never unless there’s a good story reason to use him because not everyone at Lucasfilm likes the character. According to Rogue One co-writer Gary Whitta, who’s also written a few episodes of Rebels, there’s a bit of a love him or hate him relationship between Lucasfilm and poor Dash.
Star Wars Rebels season 4 was recently confirmed and Rogue One co-writer Gary Whitta told me he’s indeed doing some writing for it, and knowing Dash Rendar’s ship, the Outrider – at least, another YT-2400 light freighter – made an appearance this season, we had to ask.
Okay, can you do us a favor? Can you bring in Dash Rendar from Shadow of the Empire to Rebels?
Gary Whitta: You know, there are certain people at Lucasfilm that would hang you from a tree for saying something like that.
Gary Whitta: He’s a very polarizing character! People either love Dash or they hate him.
Gary Whitta: But obviously, one of the great things about Rebels is you get to introduce characters from the wider pantheon of Star Wars. One of the coolest things with season 3 is that we got to bring in Thrawn intro the canon and make him an essential character on the show. So I think they’re always looking for those opportunities but the people who work at Lucasfilm are very aware of not doing stuff necessarily just for fan service, you do it because it’s something the show needs or can benefit from rather than just ‘throw this in there because it’s an Easter Egg and someone will notice.’
Dash Rendar was first introduced in the Expanded Universe in 1996’s Shadows of the Empire novel (part of a larger multimedia project) but he really got the spotlight attention as the playable protagonist in the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire video game that same year (a game that the Rogue Squadron series of games spun out from), one of the top-selling Nintendo 64 games. These were set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi but they also introduced history that Rendar had with Han Solo and Lando Calrissian.
If Rendar were to be introduced – and we did list “Shadows of the Empire” as a Star Wars spinoff we want to see – and if said introduction pulled from the Legends lore, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him as a young Imperial Officer during the days of Star Wars Rebels, or crossing paths post-Galactic Republic with young Han Solo in his own solo movie, and later helping steal the plans for the second Death Star. He’s a relatively easy character to introduce since creators can pick and choose what elements from Legends they’d apply to him in canon, and even visually they can change his look since he’s been depicted with every hair color and hair style imaginable.
Do you want to see Dash Rendar or should Lucasfilm leave him in the past?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is directed by Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla,” “Monsters”) and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, p.g.a., Allison Shearmur, p.g.a. (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Cinderella”) and Simon Emanuel, p.g.a. (“The Dark Knight Rises”). Veteran ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll, (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) whom shares a long history with the Star Wars films, is executive producer alongside Jason McGatlin (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “War of the Worlds”). The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta (“The Book of Eli,” “After Earth”), and the screenplay was written by Chris Weitz (“The Golden Compass,” “About a Boy”) and Tony Gilroy (“The Bourne Legacy,” “Michael Clayton”).
Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything,” “Like Crazy”) heads up the cast and stars opposite Diego Luna (“Milk,” “Elysium”). Joining them are Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline,” “Animal Kingdom”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale,” TV’s “Hannibal”), Alan Tudyk (“Frozen,” “I, Robot”), Riz Ahmed (“Nightcrawler,” “Jason Bourne”) and Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” “The Butler”). The film also welcomes two of China’s biggest stars, Donnie Yen (“Ip Man,” “Blade II”) and Jiang Wen (“Let the Bullets Fly,” “The Sun Also Rises”). In addition, Anthony Daniels (“Star Wars: A New Hope,” “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”) reprises his role of C-3PO, marking his eighth appearance in a Star Wars film.
To create the distinctive and contemporary look of the film, Edwards chose revered cinematographer Greig Fraser (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Foxcatcher”). Visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Mohen Leo (Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man,” “The Martian”) team up with special effects supervisor Neil Corbould (“Black Hawk Down,” “Saving Private Ryan”) and ILM animation supervisor Hal Hickel (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “Iron Man”). Star Wars veteran Doug Chiang (Star Wars Episodes I and II, “Forrest Gump”) and Neil Lamont (supervising art director on “The Force Awakens” and the “Harry Potter” film series) join forces as production designers, and Neal Scanlan (“Prometheus”) returns to do special creature effects, having recently worked on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Additional key crew include costume designers Dave Crossman (costume supervisor on The Force Awakens and the “Harry Potter” film series) and Glyn Dillon (“The Force Awakens” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service” costume concept artist), as well as stunt coordinator Rob Inch (“The Force Awakens,” “World War Z”).
The music is by composer Michael Giacchino (“Star Trek Beyond,” “Zootopia”), with original Star Wars music by John Williams. The editors for the film are John Gilroy, ACE (“Nightcrawler,” “The Bourne Legacy”), Jabez Olssen (“The Hobbit” trilogy) and Colin Goudie (“Monsters”).