by Andrew Blanchette
1977 marked the premiere of the most successful movie saga of all time when George Lucas wrote and directed the Star Wars series. Its major success in theaters prompted two sequels: Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in 1983.
The trilogy was so popular that, in 1994, George Lucas announced they would be making three more movies. In 1999, The Phantom Menace premiered, followed by Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. The release of these more recent movies resulted in the connecting of two different generations of Star Wars fans.
In 2012, George Lucas sold his rights to Star Wars to Disney, and shortly after that Disney announced it would be making three more saga movies planned to release in 2015, 2017, and 2019, according to Bloomberg.com. In addition to these, Disney announced it would make a small series of spin-offs as well.
The first of the spinoffs, Rogue One, debuts on December 16th. Many are excited about the release of this spinoff, including lifelong Star Wars fan Conor Danahey. He stated, “It’s a great idea to continue to produce movies for this legendary saga.”
When Lucas made the “original trilogy, he had no idea how successful they’d be. The second trilogy goes back before the originals and tells the story before that. These “prequels” focus on the journey of young Anakin Skywalker, otherwise known as…, to the dark side.
Anakin is a young boy who meets Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. The Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Republic. When Qui-Gon dies, Anakin becomes the apprentice to jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi. Following the Republic’s victory over the Separatists in the Clone Wars, Anakin is seduced by the Evil Darth Sidious to help him kill Jedi Master Mace Windu and join the Dark Side. Anakin becomes Darth Vader and assists the Clone Army in killing all of the Jedi, and together he and Sidious form the Galactic Empire.
The original films focus on Anakin’s children, Luke and Leia. Luke is a farm boy who teams up with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo to rescue the princess of the Rebel Alliance, the small force of freedom fighters that are fighting the Galactic Empire. Little does Luke know that the princess he rescues in the Death Star is his sister Leia. After Obi-Wan’s death, Luke trains with the last living Jedi, Master Yoda, to become a jedi. Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father, and ultimately Vader turns good again to kill the Emperor/Darth Sidious and save Luke. The Rebel Alliance eventually defeats the Galactic Empire and frees the galaxy.
Rogue One takes place between the two sagas, shortly after the rise of the Empire in Episode III and before the events of Episode IV. It will focus on the early days of the Rebel Alliance. In the film, Jyn Erso is recruited by the Rebels to steal plans to the Empire’s ultimate battle station. She teams up with other rebels to succeed in stealing the plans, which proves crucial for the Rebels.
The movie will not feature prominent characters like Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda, considering the fact that it is a spin-off. However, Darth Vader will have a role in the film, as well as the leader of the Rebel Alliance, Bail Organa.
According to the Starwars.com, the cast features Felicity Jones as the protagonist, Jyn Erso. Forest Whittaker, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, and Ben Mendelsohn are all featured in the film as well. Jimmy Smitts returns to play Bail Organa, his character in the prequels, and James Earl Jones has returned to once again voice Darth Vader. A mix of young and old characters has fans of all ages very excited about what’s to come with this movie.
Rogue One is the first of a few spin-offs to come. Although nothing has been confirmed, rumors have emerged of spin-offs featuring Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett and Yoda. On starwarswikia.com, Kathleen Kennedy talks about the next spinoff about Han Solo, saying, “We’ve found the perfect team to handle the task.” Kennedy will be involved in producing the film.
Filming for next spin-off is set to begin next month, and the movie will premiere in December of 2018. According to The Guardian, Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, said, “It would be fun…I could even do two of them.”
There is excitement about these spin-offs in addition to the two more saga movies planned to be released in 2017 and 2019. Disney’s purchase of Star Wars has certainly drawn a lot of buzz to the franchise and Rogue One is sure to draw big crowds.