This year's Star Wars movie is quite a bit different than the other films in the franchise. Sure, Rogue One still has Stormtroopers, TIE Fighters, and even Darth Vader, but the movie takes place outside the series' main saga. As far as anyone knows, the film won't deal with the Skywalker family drama (despite Vader's inclusion), won't feature any Jedi, and won't even have the traditional opening crawl. That last detail is particularly hard for fans to swallow, so why is there no opening crawl in Rogue One ?
For many fans, nothing says "Star Wars" quite like hearing John Williams' score blaring while yellow text slowly scrolls away into the distance over a backdrop of deep space. Rogue One is opting not to include this quintessential element, but it has a good reason: It's not a traditional Star Wars movie. The film is something completely new; a type of spinoff dubbed an "anthology film" that is meant to function as a standalone story that takes place within the Star Wars universe. Therefore, the film will have a different feel, and will purposefully avoid certain features of a typical Star Wars "episode" in order to distinguish itself from the usual Star Wars fare.
Speaking to Variety's Brent Lang, here's what Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy had to say about the decision to omit the opening crawl from Rogue One : "We felt [the opening crawl]'s so indicative of what those saga films are. Initially, we probably will begin the film in a way that is traditional, with just the title." So what will the movie have instead of the opening crawl? Apparently, as a way to set the stage for the events of the film, a prologue will be shown that takes place several years before the main story, as director Gareth Edwards explained in an interview with French journalist Yann Barthès on his show Quotidien (translation from French courtesy of Bleeding Cool):
“There is no opening crawl. But there is a prologue at the beginning of the film that takes place 15 years before the action of the film and that is how the action is exposed. Our film comes from the text of (the opening crawl from) Episode IV... if we give the text, it would be endless. We really had to differentiate Rogue One from the rest of the saga."
In a way, Rogue One has to set itself apart from the rest of the saga because it likely represents the future of the franchise better than The Force Awakens. The episodic storyline about the Skywalker family isn't going to continue forever (I would guess that it will conclude with Episode IX), and future Star Wars movies could very well look a lot more like Rogue One than they do TFA. Disney has hinted that they will continue to make a new Star Wars movie every year as long as there is interest in them, and the best way to do that is to diversify their offerings and expand what it means to be a Star Wars movie. Time will tell how it all works out.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures