If you were to watch the X-Men movies in order of release or in chronological order, you’d quickly realize it doesn’t make sense. Characters are replaced, recast, reused differently from time-to-time; flashbacks in one movie don’t match the next; things that happen to characters in one story are forgotten in a followup, etc. It’s an example of filmmakers and a studio not caring about continuity and not working together to maintain it. No one cares it seems in that series and because there are a few duds in that movie lineup, that mentality helped Deapool come to fruition, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The latest example of this is with Logan featuring the supporting mutant character of Caliban without even knowing that same character was being used in X-Men: Apocalypse less than a year prior. Same studios, same producers, same issue.
With Star Wars, it’s the complete opposite. Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and decided to bring back the film saga, all supporting media in the lore was redefined. All of the books, games, and comics known as the Expanded Universe were 100% removed from official canon and became Star Wars Legends, and everything going forward in the multimedia franchise would be in canon.
And this canon is virtually “law,” as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story co-writer Gary Whitta explained to us in an interview last week promoting the home video release of Rogue One which arrives early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on March 24, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on April 4. It’s its own history in a strange way, and unlike real history which we see fictionalized or altered for the sake of dramatic storytelling in film, no one can alter Star Wars history for the sake of another in-canon project. What happened in the movies, happened.
“It’s funny, I made the observation some time ago that Star Wars history is almost more sacrosanct than real history. When you do a historical movie you can change historical events. You know, you see ‘some events have been changed for dramatic purposes.’ You can’t do that for Star Wars! If it happened in the film, you can’t say ‘well, something else happened.’ It’s canon. It’s history. It’s the law.”
That’s a lot of lore and history to organize, maintain, and most importantly, to not contradict going forward. For this very reason the current slate of Star Wars novels and Star Wars Rebels animated television series have to be very careful in how they tell stories and use familiar characters in their respect time periods. To maintain this ever-expanding canon, where certain elements from Star Wars Legends are occasionally pulled in and retooled as official elements of the lore, there exists the Lucasfilm Story Group headed by Pablo Hidalgo.
Whitta explains that the Lucasfilm Story Group were involved in the process of breaking the Rogue One story from very early on and would be involved all the time as part of the collaboration.
I went through the film and just wrote down every single thing like one of those Imperial Officers saying “we’ve not recovered the stolen datatapes” so I write, it’s gotta be datatapes, so we have to have physical tapes somewhere in the film. Umm… “several transmissions were beamed aboard this ship” and all of this stuff, we have to make sure all of these dots connect correctly because Star Wars fans will notice if they don’t. So I did some of that and there’s a guy at Lucasfilm, Pablo Hildalgo, whose job it is to make sure those dots all connect, and the Lucasfilm Story Group would sit with us. I actually had an office at Lucasfilm for the better part of a year when I started with Gareth on the story and every day we’d sit in a conference room and the Story Group guys would come in and we would sit around and talk about the story. It was a far more collaborative story breaking process than on any film I’ve ever been involved with.
This model and planning strategy, and growing the Star Wars story in that way, Lucasfilm borrowed from Disney’s other big franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who set the shared universe standard that all major Hollywood studios are attempting to embrace. Big brands that become movies or any film story that’s thought of as potentially having sequels or spinoffs now gets a TV-style writers room. It’s what Paramount is doing with Transformers and other Hasbro-based toy movies. It’s what Universal is doing with their monster movies beginning with The Mummy and its’s what Legendary and Warner Bros. are doing with the MonsterVerse (Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island).
And in a galaxy far, far away. It’s law. And no one can break it.
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”).