Rogue One is already a great Star Wars film, but Disney and Lucasfilm are taking steps to make it even better. Released in 2016, Rogue One was something of an experiment. As the first standalone anthology film of the franchise’s Disney era, many were curious to see how the spinoff would perform. Despite a troubled production that required extensive reshoots to fix the third act, the results speak for themselves. Rogue One earned positive reviews from critics and over $1 billion worldwide. Domestically, it’s the 11th highest-grossing film of all-time.
Given the nature of Rogue One’s ending (where all of the new characters died during the Battle of Scarif), the movie is the definition of a self-contained story, but Lucasfilm found a way to revisit this corner of the universe. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently announced Rogue One star Diego Luna will reprise his role of Cassian Andor for a prequel TV show for streaming service Disney+. Plot details are obviously being kept under wraps for now, but in all likelihood, this project will only enhance Rogue One’s narratives and themes.
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Considering how much of the film was retooled, it’s borderline incredible Rogue One plays as smoothly as it does. It accomplished its goal of being a war drama in the galaxy far, far away, illustrating the tremendous desperation and sacrifices of the Rebellion. Still, the movie has its flaws. One of the more common criticisms of Rogue One is its perceived lack of character development, which for some negatively impacted the emotional finale. This critique may be a tad overblown, but there’s still a convincing enough argument to be made there. In some areas, the Rogue One script prioritizes telling over showing as a way of building character. While that was certainly enough to have each member of the makeshift team stand out, some viewers were left wanting more as the film moved along from set piece to set piece.
Of course, the new TV show isn’t going to provide additional shading for every member of the Rogue One ensemble (with the possible exception of K-2SO), but Cassian and the Rebellion at large will surely benefit. The movie makes multiple allusions to Cassian’s troubled past where he did „terrible things“ for a cause he believed in, but it doesn’t fully explore this aspect of Andor’s character. Yes, in his introductory scene, Cassian murders an informant in cold blood so he can escape, but that’s about the only morally ambiguous action he makes in the film. Though he’s assigned to assassinate Galen Erso, Cassian decides to disobey his orders while on Eadu and then he heroically volunteers for Jyn’s suicide mission. There are hints of a hard-edged, well, rogue (thanks in large part to Luna’s performance), though not enough for some.
It would be unwise to expect the Cassian TV show to go completely dark a la Marvel’s Netflix series. Star Wars remains a family-friendly property and will (probably) never dip into the R-rated pool. Still, the show will go a long way in fleshing Cassian out, building on what was presented in Rogue One by detailing his career in the Rebellion. Audiences will have their connection to the character deepened by seeing what he went through and the great lengths he went to to fight against the tyranny of the Empire. With multiple episodes at its disposal, the show will have plenty of time to highlight Cassian’s complexities, and the talented Luna should bring a lot to the table in that regard. Since the show’s poised to be an espionage thriller, it can afford to paint its protagonist in shades of grey as Cassian toes the line between freedom fighter and being no better than a stormtrooper. Going to back to watch Rogue One after the show airs will be an extremely rewarding experience.
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