Going in to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story many fans wondered just how connected the first “standalone” movie would be to the saga films. Most did not expect large roles from previously known characters, with Darth Vader being the big exception. But, with the film taking place just days, or really seconds, before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope begins, there became a growing sense that something else, something bigger, could be in store.
That is exactly what audiences got when it came to a climactic third act that ended the film with a bang. However, after all the action and long awaited return of Vader in action, it was the appearance of a young, CGI version of Leia that sent fans leaving with hope. Still, it was not clear why Leia, merely a princess within the Rebellion at this point, would be at the battle of Scarif – that is, until now.
Pablo Hidalgo, the top creative executive at Lucasfilm, spoke to The Star Wars Show (via io9) about Rogue One and Leia’s involvement. As he explains, the initial plan set from Mon Mothma and Bail Organa was for her to go find the Jedi friend they discussed earlier, but the attack on Scarif then took precedence.
The plan was always that Leia was going to go to Tatooine to pick up Obi-Wan and Raddus was going to escort her. Then the news of Scarif came in, and that was deemed more important … [because] it’s the one warship that they have at this point.
While almost all viewers were more than pleased with the movie and the third act specifically, the reasoning behind Leia being on a war ship does not make too much sense initially. Now with this explanation from Hidalgo, it should clear up any negative feelings regarding why Leia was on the ship. After all, it is tidbits like these that fill in the gaps of Star Wars canon and close potential plot holes within the franchise that some fans may point out.
Even with Leia’s appearance now being rationally explained, there are still going to be some viewers who are uncomfortable with the idea of using visual effects to replicate actors. This has been a heavy topic in the Star Wars world after Peter Cushing’s Tarkin was brought back to life using these methods, and many speculating that Lucasfilm could digitally recreate Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode IX. But, Lucasfilm put an end to such speculation. Leia’s appearance in Rogue One is not a similar case as Fisher knew about this recreation and loved it, so there is seemingly no reason to have any problem with Leia’s role.