Thousands of Star Wars fans (including me) have already preordered tickets to see “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” when it opens in mid-December. From what we know so far, the film offers all the typical Star Wars action, but it’s not a typical Star Wars movie.
“Rogue One” features a diverse cast with a female lead. It’s the first Star Wars movie to be a standalone story, without the promise of a sequel. It’s even ditching the traditional opening crawl.
Here’s why I think “Rogue One” is destined be the Star Wars movie that sets itself apart from the rest of the saga.
Bye-bye opening crawl
One of the most noticeable changes in this Star Wars film is the lack of the opening crawl. Every single Star Wars film has included it: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”
Even “The Clone Wars” animated series episodes had it. But according to Variety, Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy has said “Rogue One” won’t go with the flow.
“We probably will begin the film…with just the title,” Kennedy said in an interview published last week.
That’s a huge change for fans who have not only memorized the opening text to all previous Star Wars films but consider it tradition. The exclusion of the opening crawl sends a strong message to fans right from the start that “Rogue One” isn’t a usual Star Wars film. That’s downright thrilling.
There’s nothing more exciting for me as a Star Wars fan — and a lifelong geek girl — than seeing a new story based on a female character. Princess Leia was my childhood role model. She shot a blaster better than the guys who tried to rescue her. She was in charge of troops at the rebel bases. She sassed both Tarkin and Darth Vader and won Han Solo’s heart in a flurry of sarcastic verbal foreplay. Princess Leia has always been, and will always be, the ultimate female role model in the Star Wars universe.
We’ve had a few other strong female characters, of course, but with mixed results. The Star Wars prequels gave us Padme Amidala, who started strong but then gave up at the end due to a “broken heart.” Then we saw a rebellious female Jedi named Ahsoka Tano grow up and take charge in “The Clone Wars” animated series and later in “Star Wars Rebels.”
In “Rogue One,” we get the defiant Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who has a troubled past and a tricky family history. It’s hard to be upbeat when your dad, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), is to blame for creating the original blueprints for the Death Star.
But if there’s anything to glean from the movie trailers, it’s that Jyn is no pushover with daddy issues. She’s ready to fight for what’s right and doesn’t mind if the odds are against her. In fact, this is the kind of suicide squad worthy of a riot grrl anthem. I can’t wait to hear Jyn tell Mon Mothma, the leader of the resistance, “I rebel.”
At a time when most studios lean heavily on white males, Lucasfilm and Disney understand a great story deserves a diverse cast. After all, we’re dealing with an entire universe of humanoids, alien races and robots.
“Rogue One” includes not only a female lead played by Felicity Jones, but also an all-star cast that includes Forest Whitaker as Saw Guerrera, Diego Luna as Capt. Cassian Andor, Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus, and even Jimmy Smits reprising his role as Bail Organa — just to name a few.
Diversity is nothing new in Star Wars. After all, Star Wars characters Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), Captain Panaka (Hugh Quarshie), Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), young Boba Fett (Daniel Logan) were played by non-white actors. There’s also been an impressive array of Jedi Masters, villains, assassins, politicians and rebels played by women.