There’s been a fair amount of noise about the alternate versions of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that emerged throughout the development and shooting process for the film. Originally teased through the marketing, trailers, and behind-the-scenes footage of the movie, it became clear fairly early on for fans that the first Star Wars spin-off feature that hit theaters last year wasn’t necessarily the Rogue One that Disney and Lucasfilm had originally planned, or intended to be released.
Which decisions were made by director Gareth Edwards and/or Lucasfilm execs is somewhat unclear, though it has been confirmed that some serious changes were made to Rogue One in the months and year leading up to its release last December. It looks like it wasn’t just the film’s heroes whose deaths were changed in that process either, based on the latest details released about one of the early Rogue One script drafts.
During an interview with EW, screenwriter Gary Whitta – who was one of the first people attached to Rogue One in its early days of development – revealed that Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Kreenic originally didn’t die on the Scarif Imperial Blast. Instead, Whitta had originally envisioned Krennic surviving the blast from the Death Star, only to be later strangled and killed by Darth Vader himself:
“They tore him out of the rubble and they brought him back. When they’re going over the ruins, he somehow survived. It’s a bit of a reach, which is why it isn’t in the finished film. He survived the blast and they pulled him up and brought him to the Star Destroyer to report to Vader. He’s all beat up, his cape’s all torn up and stuff, and he thinks he has survived. Vader kills him for his failure.”
As those who have seen the film already know, Krennic didn’t make it off Scarif by the end of the theatrical cut; instead, he was left lying wounded and slowly dying on the top of the Scarif base. The last moment, where Krennic got to see the Death Star beginning to fire on the surface of the planet, was one of poetic justice, as he got to watch his own creation be the same thing that kills him. Then again, some might argue that it was also too low-key of a death for such an integral and powerful villain in Rogue One.
This original ending might have provided a bit more closure to the earlier Rogue One scene between Krennic and Vader, which doesn’t necessarily get its payoff – though the alternate scene with Vader in the hallway seems to have already gone down as one of Star Wars‘ most famous moments ever. At the same time, having Krennic go down in the same fashion as the Rebels he tried so hard to stop just contributes to the unexpected nature of the film’s ending, which some have loved and others have been more divided about. Moreover, it seems that the entire Scarif battle may have been the largest point of debate amongst the film’s creative team, which just goes to show how dedicated Disney and Lucasfilm were to making sure its importance was felt by the audience.