A Closer Look at Rogue One and how it fits into the Star Wars Franchise

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” So began Star Wars, the 1977 space opera that unexpectedly became one of the most influential films of all time. Since its birth, the Star Wars franchise achieved global success, earned millions of fans, and has become an iconic staple of pop culture. And now the Star Wars universe prepares to expand with the new film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Rogue One is set before the events of A New Hope, focusing on a group of rebels tasked with stealing plans for the Empire’s deadliest weapon: the Death Star. Fans worldwide anticipate the return of Darth Vader to the silver screen, and now the wait is almost over. Although set in the same universe as The Force Awakens, Rogue One is not part of the sequel trilogy; rather it is the first in a series of stand-alone films called The Star Wars Anthology. To set itself apart from the central films that follow the adventures of the Skywalker family, Rogue One will not have the classic opening crawl after the film title. The film does however share stunning visual set pieces with its predecessors; nevertheless, the hype train is long and loud.

There are many themes in Rogue One’s story that makes the film relatable to a wide audience. The diverse, unlikely team of rebel spies warming up to each other as the plot progresses reflects the theme of unity and tolerance. Family and the Unkown Hero are other themes central to all Star Wars films, and Rogue One stands to continue this trend. The film explores Felicity Jones’ character Jyn Erso’s interactions with her distant father (played by Mads Mikkelsen), gaining audience sympathy for her personal strife through pathos. The trailers also convey this sense of shadowy darkness (no pun intended) around the members of the rebel team, leading into the theme of the Unknown Hero. The Rebellion enlists the help of these shadows; individuals who operate in the background, unseen in the big picture. That is indeed the premise of the film; spies attempting to steal deadly information to benefit a greater cause (that cause being realized in A New Hope).

(Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The main characters of Star Wars films are plucked from poverty and loneliness into galactic glory; one need look no further than the origins of Anakin, Luke, and Rey to detect a pattern. Audiences love watching these relatable characters as they mature throughout the film since they represent endless opportunity amidst harsh reality: ‘a new hope’. While moviegoers agree with a sense of consistency, the introduction of new influences into franchises is also appreciated. Both Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are built around strong female leads, no doubt representing a movement for gender equality in mainstream entertainment. These central pillars are what fans love about the Star Wars franchise; a balance in breathtaking visuals with good storytelling and relevant motifs. All these elements converge into a magical formula adored by fans and respected by critics, giving box office forecasters the grounds to predict Rogue One will be a financial success.

 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released December 16. Make sure to check out the Rebellion’s latest adventure in theaters soon.