The REAL Reason Why the Success of “Rogue One” Is Important to Star Wars
As of the time this article is posted, Rogue One has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. There was an air of cautious but strong optimism surrounding the movie, hopes were high and fans worldwide had their fingers crossed, some of them still hurting by disappointing entries from other movie series they loved. The children have been nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of Stormtroopers dance in their heads. Thankfully, director Gareth Edwards has given us another hit, and it turns out that Rogue One is a great movie (Godzilla was just okay in my opinion, wasn’t impressed). Rogue One is an important film, though I’m not telling you this for the reasons you might expect.
If you find the politics surrounding the movie to be disagreeable or distasteful, I share that sentiment. I know that feel. I’ve been a Star Wars fan my entire life, and the pointless arguing about race and gender, identity politics to sum it up, makes me sick to my stomach almost literally. Bringing opinions about the 2016 election into it only makes it worse. It is a major turn-off for me, both as a movie lover and a fan. For every passionate and very vocal internet user elated to see such a diverse cast in a mainstream franchise, there is a movie-watcher somewhere rolling their eyes, wishing we’d all just shut up and enjoy the movie. That would be my father, who grew up with Star Wars in the ’70s. He’s as hardcore a Star Wars fan as they come, he’s the one that got me into it, but he couldn’t possibly care less about any of the controversies springing up from the new era of Star Wars. All he wants is Star Wars: lightsabers, science-fiction, the Force, Stormtroopers, shameless merch— the good stuff. I feel the same way, though I admit I’m also eyes deep in the internet’s neverending series of debates and arguments. If you ask me, the amount of people who make a stink about things and cause uproars over our entertainment most likely pales in comparison to the amount of people who actually make up the lion’s share of viewers, but that’s beside the point. The reality of the matter is that Rogue One is in fact an important movie, but just not because of its cast or coy (subliminal?) political commentary.
The real reason Rogue One is an important movie is because its success signals a brand new realm of possibility for the franchise. For decades, the wonders of the expanded universe of Star Wars has been a pleasure reserved only for those willing to read the novels, follow the comics, study the meta material, or commit to the oft nerdy games of all varieties and genres. It has spent years and years building a community of fans who love it and want to be a part of it, but now things are going to change for better or worse, hopefully better. Rogue One is not unlike the first ‘Iron Man’ movie from Marvel Studios (a franchise that Disney also coincidentally now owns). It’s a movie with a solid premise and a strong cast designed to kickstart a new cinematic enterprise. It’s Disney’s way of saying, “Okay, you want more Star Wars? Put your money where your mouth is, here’s Star Wars.” They are now probing moviegoer interest and money-making potential by creating the safest possible movie for the widest possible audience in order to determine the future of Star Wars.
For now, Disney has officially announced two “Anthology” movies: Rogue One, and a Han Solo origin story. If these early movies are a success, Disney will be willing to take more risks and make more Star Wars movies. Who knows where the series could go next? It’s hard to imagine movies about already popular settings directed by people like Gareth Edwards and the Lord/Miller combo not doing so well, but future movies could see Star Wars venturing into more foreign territory, and the possibilities are endless. Even though Disney has technically declared the series’ extremely broad Expanded Universe material to be non-canon, they can still draw from it for inspiration. Some eagle-eyed fans speculate that they already are, developing theories about Supreme Leader Snoke who was introduced in Episode VII.
For example, my idea is to go for The Old Republic, a subset of Star Wars that began with Bioware’s widely loved 2003 role-playing game, ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’, or KotOR for short. The first game was great, the second one was even better, and now the series continues with an MMORPG; fans would rather have KotOR 3, myself included, but at least “The Old Republic” is alive. The fan interest is definitely present, so I say a movie or new series of movies based in and on The Old Republic is a no-brainer. There is the possibility that Disney alienates some fans by choosing a lead actor that doesn’t satisfy everyone, the series is built on the premise that you can make your own character after all, but it’s a risk we might have to take. Personally, I’d do just about anything to see memorable characters from the series like Bao-Dur, HK-47, and Bastila Shan appear on screen.
While we’re on the subject of video games, it’s worth noting that a lot of Star Wars games could make great movies, or even television shows, not just KotOR. ‘Shadows of the Empire’ (N64, PC) continues to be a mentioned favorite from fans. ‘Republic Commando’ (Xbox, PC), a game about a specific squad of Commandos in the Clone Wars, is an easy sell considering it’s all about action and big personalities. Even ‘Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy’ (Xbox, PC) could be adapted in some way. Maybe a “Game of Thrones”-esque show? Most of the Star Wars video games are story driven, so the adaptations would be a cinch.
On the flip-side of things, look at what Marvel’s cinematic universe has become over the last ten or so years. Can you believe we’re on the verge of seeing an “Infinity Wars” movie? Marvel has managed to turn what used to be a pastime and niche for comic book readers, a crowd that was once made fun of not that long ago, into a global phenomenon and license to print money. I remember playing games like ‘Marvel Super Heroes’ and thinking to myself, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a movie of this?” Well, look where we are now. Spider-Man and Iron Man are fighting Captain America on the big screen, and the whole world is watching. Apply that level of progression to Star Wars, and imagine the crazy goodness we could see in theaters after Disney really gets the ball rolling. There are even more video games in the works too, so it seems as though Disney is just getting started. They have infinite funds to spend, and Rogue One is their experiment, their lab rat.
I think that regardless of where Disney chooses to take things, Star Wars fans are in for a treat. More Star Wars is a good thing. For now, let’s all try to look past the senseless bickering, and show Disney that we’re willing to play ball. If they feel like there is money to be made, they’ll give us all the Star Wars we can handle. We will have to take our lumps along with it, that is a guarantee, but as fans it is our responsibility to sift through the bad and let the good stuff remain for all to appreciate.