Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s journey to the big screen hasn’t been the smoothest. For the past seven months the first Star Wars spin-off, which charts how the Rebellion stole the Death Star plans from the Empire before the original movie, has been plagued by reports of drastic reshoots and difficulties in the edit suite, with conflicting accounts swirling around. The latest story around it, however, is decidedly more charged.
Over the weekend of Rogue One‘s premiere, #DumpStarWars was trending on Twitter – with Donald Trump supporters objecting to recent comments made by the film’s screenwriters about the President-Elect. Fans were quick to fire back, ridiculing such a random boycott and drawing comparisons between Trump and the Empire, creating a debate that likely wasn’t part of Lucasfilm’s marketing plan.
In an attempt to put out the fire, Disney CEO Bob Iger has commented on the recent outcry to THR at film’s premiere on Sunday, stating that film has no concerted political message:
“I think the whole story has been overblown and, quite frankly, it’s silly. I have no reaction to [this] story at all. Frankly, this is a film that the world should enjoy. It is not a film that is, in any way, a political film. There are no political statements in it, at all.”
Rogue One is ostensibly about a political uprising, charting an increasingly militarized rebellion fighting against insurmountable odds, and dealing with the motives for Rebellion and the bureaucracy of governments. That being said, Iger’s point is that there’s no intentional subtext relating to the current climate, especially the highly controversial 2016 U.S. election.
That’s actually all very in keeping with traditional Star Wars. The original trilogy was about a totalitarian government being overthrown (and had distinct influences from the Vietnam War), but it is, at heart, a classic “good versus evil” story. And, even though the prequels got more into galactic politics, they were still more focused on the process and the criticism of dictatorships than looking at parties or complex ideologies (although there were some Julius Caesar/George Bush parallels made).
Instead of politics, Iger was keen to push what he sees as the film’s real message – diversity:
“Rogue One has one of the greatest and most diverse casts of any film we have ever made and we are very proud of that, and that is not a political statement, at all.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens already presented a vastly more diverse galaxy, but Rogue One is going even further – with the group who steal the Death Star plans being made up of a very international cast. That’s something that does indeed appear to be a more core theme of the film.