After being dormant for some time, the live action Star Wars universe is back up and running. The success of The Force Awakens reinvigorated the franchise on screen. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first installment in a new Star Wars anthology, comes out on Dec. 16. And the as-yet un-subtitled follow-up to The Force Awakens is due for release at the end of 2017. With each new film, the timeline of Star Wars gets more and more convoluted. I'm sure you are aware by now that Rogue One falls chronologically between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. But if Episode IV is the next chapter in the story after this one, exactly how much time passes between Rogue One and A New Hope ?
Rogue One tells the story of a mission mentioned only in passing in A New Hope. In 1977, this space opera begins with an imprisoned Princess Leia hiding important military intelligence in a rickety droid and instructing that droid to get it to a former Jedi knight turned harmless hermit. That intelligence is information critical to the objective of the Rebel Alliance, at that moment, to destroy an armed space station designed by the Galactic Empire to keep the galaxy under its foot. A New Hope joins a military manuver already in progress. Leia, Luke, Obi-Wan, and Han deliver those plans, but someone had to steal them in the first place. Enter: Jyn Erso.
Early reactions from fans and critics who've seen preview screenings of Rogue One confirm that this film has a different tone than any of the episodic films. Star Wars has seen many battles, but they've never been particularly bloody affairs. On the other hand, Rogue One is said to have more in common with war movies than it does science fiction and fantasy. It's being praised for its grit and intensity. Look, the Death Star is a genocide machine. It's critical that the Rebels find the means of demolishing it. They're fighting for their lives and against Fascism. Of course that fight is going to be ferocious.
It's reasonable to assume that the Alliance wouldn't waste any time once they have their hands on the Death Star plans. In A New Hope, the battlestation is almost "fully operation." So the 1977 film must be set almost immediately after Rogue One ends. In May, The Hollywood Reporter published a quote from an anonymous source stating that there's barely time for a hypothetical bathroom break between the two. "This is the closest thing to a prequel ever," the source said. "This takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins."
With all of this in mind, it's pretty hilarious that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy was even asked whether or not Rogue One will have a sequel. Kennedy confirmed to Empire Magazine via Slash Film that "Rogue Two" will not be happening, because there's no time. "That sequel will be directed by George Lucas," she added, referring to Episode IV.
Will Rogue One be a worthy lead in to the Star Wars movie that started it all? There are just a few days left before you can make that determination yourself.
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