We may be getting the movie more than a year from now, but Rogue One is already raising a lot of questions. Directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz, the film has a lot of potential. Billed as Star Wars meets Zero Dark Thirty, it chronicles the efforts of a Rebel cell as they pull a covert op to steal the Death Star plans. Other than the basic premise, however, we know very little about the film outside of an initial interview and casting.
Will they use anything from the Expanded Universe when constructing the story?
It could go either way, but if they do use something from the EU it will most likely be only in the details. If you look at the saga of the Death Star plans in the EU, there’s just no way to lift them without completely chopping all the details apart. Pablo Hidalgo, one of the leading members of the Lucasfilm Story Group, once had this to say on the subject,
“… if you had to throw a dinner party and invite everyone who had ever stolen the Death Star plans, you’d be surprised at how many place settings you’d have to worry about.”
In essence, the saga of the stolen Death Star plans in the Expanded Universe is a complete mess they desperately tried to streamline. So, it makes perfect sense when Lucasfilm wiped the canon slate clean they’d want one story about the event rather than several loosely tied together.
How did the Rebels discover the Death Star in the old EU?
In The Force Unleashed, Vader’s apprentice Galen Marek rounds up the Rebel leaders, who are brought to the unfinished first Death Star where the Emperor reveals the station’s name and purpose. Marek, having had a change of heart and embraced the light side of the Force, sacrifices himself to rescue the leaders.
Any chance Rogue One will use that material from The Force Unleashed?
If there is a chance, it’s incredibly slim. Gareth Edwards himself said that the film will have no Jedi in it, which would serve as a major theme in the story. Suddenly hinging the story on the actions of a major Force user like Galen Marek (even if he isn’t technically a Jedi), would go against those themes in a big way.
Are there any other stories about the Rebels discovering the existence of the Death Star?
Two. The first involves a young Han Solo being coerced by the Rebels to put a tracking device on a cargo container bound for a secret Imperial research station. When the Rebels raided the station, they found information that confirmed the existence of the first Death Star.
In another operation on the world Ralltiir at about the same time, a Rebel spy named Basso also found information that confirmed the station’s existence and that the station would be moved via convoy to the world of Toprawa from Tarkin’s headquarters on Eriadu.
Could any of this be used in Rogue One?
Perhaps in the set up. If the Death Star plans are the plot device that drives the film, then the existence of the Death Star will need to be confirmed in the first fifteen minutes or before the film even begins. At the latest, the Rebel Covert Ops team will need to be formed and going out to take on their mission by minute thirty if the film is a standard two hours. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense spending much time discovering if the Death Star exists or not. If any of these details will be used, it will most likely be in a briefing or the first scenes of the film.
So, how were the actual Death Star plans stolen?
Asking that question is asking for a Rube Goldberg machine of events that have been hastily stitched together with old fishing wire and elbow grease… but we’ll give it a shot.
The first recorded incident involves the jailbreak of Rebel prisoners inside the nearly completed Death Star, who managed to find and transmit the plans to a secret Rebel base before being put down.
At nearly the same time, the Rebels tapped into Imperial communication satellites, found the schematics for the Death Star, then gave them to Biggs Darklighter, who delivered them to the Mon Calamari Cruiser Independence… and from there they were delivered to Princess Leia’s corvette the Tantive IV via shuttlecraft.
But how do those two events —
Shh! We’re not done yet.
Meanwhile, on an Imperial outpost on Danuta, mercenary Kyle Katarn stole Death Star plans containing the Death Star’s engineering schematics and weapon emplacements.
What about the rest of the plans?
Other schematics, including information on the planet destroying super laser, were obtained by a Rebel group attacking an Imperial convoy and stole the plans (the event the scroll in A New Hope describes as the Rebel’s first major victory against the Empire), but became trapped on the planet Toprawa when the Imperials blockaded the planet. Princess Leia volunteered to take the Tantive IV to the planet and intercept a transmission from the Rebels there.
The Rebels attacked an Imperial comm station and held off stormtroopers just long enough to transmit the plans to the Tantive IV.
That sounds like the most likely story Rogue One would use for inspiration.
Yes. The Rebel cell on Toprawa fits the bill as nicely as it can. If anything, the overall structure of the operation, with the Rebels pulling off a successful initial raid to recover the plans but then being cornered by the Empire’s swift reprisal, would make a great structure for a feature film. The Rebels having to capture an Imperial communication tower and then hold it while they send off the plans to Princess Leia could make a great third act. It would also explain why Darth Vader is pursuing them at the start of A New Hope.
What about all the other stories?
Best we don’t worry about them. One of the blessings of the Star Wars canon reset is that all the convoluted stories are gone and can now be simplified. Hopefully, Rogue One will be the definitive story of how the Death Star plans were stolen.