Lucasfilm is embarking in their first Star Wars “experiment” in just a few weeks with the pending release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie is the eighth live-action film in the universe and will simultaneously serve as both a prequel and spin-off film.
What makes this new spin-off truly stand apart from the rest of the series is that the narrative doesn’t center on a Skywalker. Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is telling an isolated war story (albeit a crucial one) within a larger intergalatic conflict. It was even revealed that Rogue One will not spawn a sequel, according to producer Kathleen Kennedy, however that doesn’t mean that it’s not all connected.
In a recent video chat for EW, writer Anthony Breznican casually dropped an intriguing bit of information for Star Wars fanatics. While charting out the timeline of the entire Star Wars universe, he explains that Rogue One “connects directly to many other films in the franchise.” As he explained, there was a line that led specifically to Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is currently in production. It’s no secret that both films’ productions would be sharing notes with such an interconnected and expanding universe. However, narratively it is a bit surprising, since there is no glaring connections between the two narratives. Or is there?
Rogue One tells the story that was we first saw in the opening scroll of the original Star Wars. A band of “Rebel spies” steals the blueprints to the Death Star from under the nose of the evil Empire. Those plans eventually go through the hands of Princess Leia and R2-D2, before ultimately being what leads to a “lucky” Rebel pilot named Luke Skywalker destroying the weapon of mass destruction, in A New Hope.
There are a plethora of ways to connect Rogue One to Episode VIII. The most glaring connection being Darth Vader. His grandson Kylo Ren, has been known to want to “complete what he started.” Perhaps, the Force-abusing upstart learns about the battles waged decades in the past, or is in search of more Kyber crystals, which will be formally introduced in the upcoming spin-off.
If you want to look deeper down the conspiracy tree, there is an outlandish theory that has been circulating the internet that surely just gained traction as well. Most people are expecting the cast of Rogue One to have heroic deaths, a la Seven Samurai, while successfully completing their mission. The theory is that Rogue One also serves as the origin story to the Knights of Ren – who are rumored to have a significant presence in Episode 8 – that were first glimpsed in last year’s The Force Awakens.
While they don’t seem to be part of the primary plot of Rogue One, also don’t undercut the aforementioned R2-D2 and now General Leia. They will be two characters who will most remember the lessons and losses of the battles in Rogue One. Regardless of how this all connects, the variety of storytelling possibilities that these upcoming Star Wars spin-offs are creating is eye-opening. Fortunately, we just have to wait a couple of weeks to find out how the Death Star crumbles.