Rogue One: A Star Wars Story paved a lot of new territory for the Star Wars franchise as the first stand-alone spinoff movie. While it took place during events in which fans were already well versed, there was still new ground covered and new details about the Star Wars universe were revealed. The ultimate result of the movie was never a mystery. Thanks to the opening crawl, it was already known the Death Star plans were successfully stolen. What audiences didn’t know, however, were the specifics of the battle of Scarif, or details about the characters involved.
While Rogue One is fairly explicit about the ultimate fate of the main characters, there was a major exclusion when it comes to some of the biggest unsung heroes: the crew of the Hammerhead Corvette that rammed the Star Destroyer, taking out another Star Destroyer and the shield gate, allowing Jyn Erso to successfully transmit the Death Star plans to the Rebels.
The Rogue One novelization is far more explicit about these events. In the book, the Hammerhead Corvette, the Lightmaker, is manned only by a skeleton crew, including its captain, Kado Oquoné. The Mon Calamari Admiral Raddus watches as the Lightmaker is destroyed when the Star Destroyer hits the shield gate, but later on he sees some lifeboats in the vicinity, filling him with hope that not all the members were sacrificed.
Those details aren’t available to fans that only watched the movie, though. The last shot of the Lightmaker (which is unnamed in the movie) is of the ship pushing the Star Destroyer along its collision course. A recent EW interview with John Knoll from Industrial Light and Magic’s visual effects team sheds more light on the on-screen depiction of these events:
“There was some talk about, ‘Hey, is this a suicide mission? Are all these guys going down with the Star Destroyers?’ I started pushing for this idea that maybe in one of the shots we could have all these lifeboats, the escape pods, shoot out of it.”
Matching the continuity of the novelization, Knoll and company moved forward with the animation of a group of lifeboats escaping the blast zone to inform the audience that the crew wasn’t completely sacrificed, but those boats weren’t featured in the final cut:
“We did an animation of that, but Gareth thought it was a little distracting, so we turned that off.”
Still, the ILM team didn’t want the most eagle-eyed of fans to be let down. Knoll specified that it’s still apparent to fans well versed in the schematics of Star Wars vehicles to find the fate of the Hammerhead’s crew once the Blu-ray arrives:
“The last shot you see of the Star Destroyers crashing down through the gate — it’s a very subtle thing, and it would probably be hard to tell this – but the lifeboats are all gone on the Hammerhead… It’s my story that the Hammerhead crew got into the lifeboats and made it out.”
Rogue One is full of Easter eggs, and this is just one more to watch for. It’s exciting to see the amount of collaboration on projects like this, and the fact that the VFX team on Rogue One had so much input on story story elements will keep fans searching the movies like Rogue One frame by frame for some time to come.