Still abuzz from the adventures of Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren in Episode VII? With the finale of “The Force Awakens”, fans are now clamoring for the next installment of the main Star Wars storyline with Episode VIII, but Disney won’t stop dipping into the well prior to the film’s May 2017 release date. Instead, between each “Episode” we’ll be given a series of anthology films, each taking place at a different time in the Star Wars universe. Rogue One, dropping in December 2016, will follow an unlikely crew within the Rebel Alliance following the formation of the Galactic Empire as they attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star before it can be brought to fruition. Actors in the film include Mads Mikkelsen, Felicity Jones, Donnie Yen, and Forest Whitaker, to name a few.
The question presented to Disney now is, how do you make fans really care about Rogue One while everyone is so wrapped up in the main universe? With our heads still spinning from the events of the Force Awakens, is there room for a whole new storyline to placate us until John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaacs, and Adam Driver return to the scene? Here’s some things we think Lucasfilm can do to make us care about Rogue One.
Look To Marvel
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the toughest nut to crack in Hollywood today. Everyone wants to mimic what Marvel has created, an amazingly profitable universe where-in anything with the logo is bound to make a boatload of cash. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done and we’ve seen cinematic universes come and go with post credit stingers abound. Luckily, considering Disney owns both Marvel and Lucasfilms, I think they have a better chance than anyone to get it right a second time. With Marvel, they’ve managed to create a money making machine that breaches so many different avenues of delivery in the form of movies, network television, and Netflix for their cinematic universe. Star Wars needs to create different stories in their universe that don’t need to be directly tied in to what is going on in the main universe.
Also in Marvel, we have the main storylines of the Avengers with movies like Age of Ultron and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. Consider these the “Star Wars Episodes” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the anthology films in the Star Wars universe, these can be similar to movies like Ant-Man and Dr. Strange, with passing hints to the universe at large, but being pretty much their own thing. Rogue One needs its own identity while still being bound in a universe that has certain characters appear and references dropped sporadically throughout.
Change Up The Genre
From looking at the publicity stills and brief material for Rogue One, you almost get a grittier feel to the proceedings. This is a good thing, as with these anthology movies, you want to offer something that folks can’t necessarily get from the main storyline. Swinging back around to Marvel, we have stories that are made for the general audience that are predominantly PG-13, while also having Netflix fare that are basically “Hard R” outings for those looking for a darker, more mature side of the universe with series like Jessica Jones and Daredevil. While I think there’s absolutely no chance that Rogue One will be rated R, I don’t necessarily think it would be a bad idea if they took a risk with it. The anthology films need to break away from the main stories to break away from the idea of oversaturation, as I’m sure Disney would like to keep the Star Wars train rolling for decades to come.
Obviously, Star Wars has already invaded television with animated shows such as Star Wars: Rebels and Clone Wars, but it wouldn’t be too bad to delve into some live action fare as well. The sky’s the limit and I think as this point in time, audiences are clamoring for as much Star Wars material as they can get. With Rogue One, the interest is there, they just need to offer things to audiences that they’re not familiar with in this universe.
Don't Look to Marvel
Wait a minute, didn’t I just say the opposite earlier? That I did, but there are also some things to learn what not to do from Marvel when it comes to Star Wars. Listen, the end game for these anthology films isn’t to get everyone together in a huge film like the Avengers, these are all separate stories and while making a reference here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world, each of these movies need to breathe without the idea of bolstering up the main line. I think that having Harrison Ford or Carrie Fischer making brief appearances in any of these would be a mistake overall, as it would somewhat overshadow this new cast and new idea. Marvel has had some difficulty in some of their films with the idea of being crushed underneath the shared universe (Iron Man 2 comes to mind), and it’s something that Star Wars needs to heed and avoid moving forward.
While the reasoning behind why Edgar Wright may have left Ant-Man was never 100% clear, the idea of the Marvel higher ups nudging him toward including more shared universe references certainly had a chance of being the reason for his departure. I’d hate to lose out on any creative masterminds due to interference from the studios based on the idea that certain boxes would need to be checked. Allow directors and screenwriters to go the distance with these anthology films and they’ll pay off in dividends to keep people excited for the future of the franchise.
You want people to really remember Rogue One on the same level as the main episodes? Then make it just as good as them, if not better. Create a movie that is impossible to ignore and has people buzzing for days in both early reviews and beyond. In all reality, Episode 7 could have been released, been terrible, and still have made a ton of money, but it’s only because it’s good that people are swarming theaters again and again to see it. If you want to reach that level for Rogue One, it needs to make us care about the new characters introduced, the predicaments they’re placed into, and keep us interested in the stories that come afterward. The movie has a great cast, a great director, and has all the pieces it needs to be a success.
Rogue One doesn’t need to create its own franchise; it just needs to be good.