Spoiler warning for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ended in a way that few expected. Yes, the heroes of the Rebellion were successful in stealing the plans for the Galactic Empire’s secret weapon, the Death Star. That much was foretold in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
What fans weren’t necessarily expecting was for every single one of those heroes to perish in the process, sacrificing each of their lives in turn for the cause of the Rebellion.
But Rogue One’s main cast weren’t the only heroes of the Battle of Scarif. The mission of the rebels planetside would have been a complete failure if not for the heroics of the crew of one Corellian Hammerhead Corvette that was part of the Rebel Alliance’s fleet. That Hammerhead Corvette rammed into an offline Imperial Star Destroyer, knocking into and destroying the shield gate that surrounded Scarif and that was preventing the Rebels from getting the Death Star plans off of the planet.
Thanks to the bold maneuver by the Hammerhead Corvette’s crew, the shield gate was destroyed and the Death Star plans were transmitted to the Rebel Alliance. But what became of the Hammerhead’s crew? It turns out that was a matter of some debate for the filmmakers.
“There was some talk about, ‘Hey, is this a suicide mission? Are all these guys going down with the Star Destroyers?’ I started pushing for this idea that maybe in one of the shots we could have all these lifeboats, the escape pods, shoot out of it,” John Knoll, visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light and Magic, says.
Industrial Light and Magic went ahead with this plan and created and animation of a group escape pods being jettisoned from the undercarriage of the Hammerhead Corvette.
“We did an animation of that, but Gareth [Edwards, the director] thought it was a little distracting, so we turned that off,” Knoll says.
But the VFX team wasn’t willing to give up on the Hammerhead’s crew. They gave a subtle hint that the Rebel crew was able to make an escape between frames.
“The last shot you see of the Star Destroyers crashing down through the gate — it’s a very subtle thing, and it would probably be hard to tell this – but the lifeboats are all gone on the Hammerhead,” Knoll tells Entertainment Weekly. “It’s my story that the Hammerhead crew got into the lifeboats and made it out.”
So the Hammerhead crew survived the collision...but to what end? Escape pods like the one seen in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope are pretty much just metal balls that fall onto the nearest planet with gravity, and that’s basically what happened to the Hammerhead crew. They would have fallen onto the shores of Scarif, and then…
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“Our story was that they made it down to the surface of Scarif, and were standing around the beach going, ‘You know what, it isn’t so bad here!” Knoll says. But then along came the Death Star. “’Hey, what’s that bright thing on the horizon?’”
In the end, they were just more martyrs for the Rebellion.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is now playing in theaters.