Now that the Disney era of the Star Wars franchise is in full swing, fans of the galaxy far, far away are excited to see all the new content Lucasfilm puts out. Through all the films, television shows, novels, and comics, there are plenty of opportunities to flesh out the larger universe, and introducing a bevy of fresh faces for viewers and readers to fall in love with is one of the easiest ways to do that. Just in two movies, fan-favorite characters such as Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Jyn Erso, and K-2SO have left sizable impressions and are now invaluable parts of the overall legacy.
Of course, Lucasfilm has also used the modern films to revisit some classic figures; The Force Awakens featured the triumphant returns of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, while Rogue One had famed villain Darth Vader in a small, yet important, role. For the story group, it’s important to find the right balance between the old and new, and they arguably have been quite successful at blending the two together so far. During a movie’s development, they’re constantly trying to figure out when the nostalgia glasses should come off as they work on taking the property in new directions.
While speaking with EW, Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta addressed this very topic, explaining how the creative team kept everyone in check so they weren’t always going back to the well:
“We did have some other characters but the reason why they’re not in the film is because any time we did something like, where I’m wearing the fanboy hat and not the professional writer’s hat, someone would come along and say, let’s not do that character again. We don’t have to be winking at the audience all the time.”
Whenever a series has run as long as Star Wars, it’s expected that the modern installments might include some nods to what’s come before. While those Easter eggs are fun to spot, it’s better if their inclusion feels natural to the story at hand. In Rogue One‘s case, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin almost felt like necessities, and it would have seemed odd if they were absent from the spinoff. On the flip side, Whitta believed the brief cameo from A New Hope cantina patrons Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba on Jedha “was a little too much.” “You have to reign in that instinct to go back and put things in just because you loved them when you were a kid,” he added.
From the sound of things, Whitta is leading the charge to help Star Wars move away from its so-called “legacy story elements” as Lucasfilm’s upcoming film slate continues to expand. Granted, it sounds like these changes are still a ways away (young Han Solo comes out next year and a Boba Fett standalone is heavily rumored), but the studio is making strides in this regard. Whitta removed Rebellion hero Admiral Ackbar from the original script (replacing him with new character Admiral Raddus), and the Alliance evacuating their old base on Dantooine was cut from the film as well. In the early going, some familiarity was necessary to ease audiences in, but now it looks like fans and filmmakers are eager to move on to newer things.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits Blu-ray April 4, 2017.