By now, everyone knows that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a prequel. No, not one of those prequels. The movie takes place right before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, telling the previously untold story of the brave Rebels who stole the plans to the first Death Star from the Empire. But since it does take place before the original trilogy, the film also relates to the aforementioned Star Wars prequels — previously the only movies to take place before Episode IV. So how many years after Episode III is Rogue One set?
In case it's been a while since you've taken a look at the prequels, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is actually considered by most to be "the good one." With a certified fresh rating of 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (nipping at the heels of Return of the Jedi's 80 percent), the movie is worth another look. It's the film that focuses the least on tedious politics and Jar Jar Binks, and instead finally gives fans what they were promised at the start of the prequels: The transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. So when did this transformation take place? Chronologically, Episode III takes place 19 years prior to A New Hope. And since Rogue One takes place immediately before A New Hope , that means it, too, happens about 19 years after Episode III — give or take a few months.
Since there's such a gap between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, that means fans will be getting Darth Vader at his most vile. Right before A New Hope, Vader is in top evil from, with virtually no trace left of Anakin like in Revenge of the Sith. Because of this, the new movie features perhaps the most frightening version of Vader ever put on screen, with EW's Anthony Breznican saying that in Rogue One, the iconic character "delivers one moment of pure horror. You could argue there’s even more than one scene that fits this description. Rogue One shows a ruthless, predatory side of Vader when he is at the height of his powers."
This checks out, because in addition to being a prequel to Episode IV, Rogue One also functions as a sequel to Episode III by default. And since that movie was all about the creation of Vader, it only makes sense that its sequel — set two decades later — would feature the Sith Lord at his most villainous.
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