Earlier today we got word that the first Star Wars “standalone” movie would be called Rogue One. The word “rogue” has some pretty huge connotations in Star Wars lore, so let’s speculate a little bit on what it could be referring to.
Okay, so let’s get the obvious out of the way. Dropping the term “rogue” anywhere near the title of anything Star Wars is going to immediately make me think of Rogue Squadron, an elite group of Rebel Alliance pilots. But first, a bit of history.
The Rogues debuted in The Empire Strikes Back, with Luke Skywalker leading a squadron of snowspeeder pilots during the Battle of Hoth, using “Rogue” as his call-sign. The script further identifies Luke as “Rogue Leader,” and the official 1984 Guide to the Star Wars Universe refers to the entire group as “Rogue Flight.”
The term “Rogue Squadron” was officially coined by Timothy Zahn in his 1991 Expanded Universe novel, Heir to the Empire. This got expanded upon in a supplementary book for the Star Wars tabletop RPG, wherein it was revealed that this squadron was commanded by Wedge Antilles after Hoth, and was later renamed Rogue Squadron just prior to the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi (although they weren’t called that in the movie).
Following their two movie appearances, the Rogues have participated in just about every major conflict in the Expanded Universe lore, including a starring role in their own series of video games.
What about the canon dump?
All of that being said, not much of it really applies anymore. Disney has officially de-canonized all of the Expanded Universe material, and anything that isn’t in the six movies, two animated TV series, or the recently released comic books are no longer considered to be “official” parts of the larger Star Wars story.
Still, Lucasfilm creatives have mentioned in the past that they’re still looking at the Expanded Universe for inspiration, and Rogue Squadron is sort of a part of at least one of the Star Wars movies. That makes it hard for me to believe that Rogue One could be referring to anything but some sort of Rogue Squadron-inspired story. It would honestly be like naming a Marvel movie “Spider-Man,” then going, oh no, we meant this other guy who is like a giant spider or something.
So what could “Rogue One” specifically be referring to?
Well in Star Wars lore, members of Rebel Alliance fighter squadrons each had a call-sign. These call-signs had two parts: the squadron name, followed by a number.
In other words, the leader of Red Squadron is Red Leader, aka Red One, and its members are Red Two, Red Three, Red Four, etc.
Rogue One then seems to imply the leadership position in a Rogue Squadron. My guess would be that this standalone film will follow one of Rogue Squadron’s adventures, with the group’s leader (Rogue One) in the lead role.
Adding to this hunch is the fact that the idea for the film apparently came from John Knoll, a VFX supervisor and CCO at Industrial Light & Magic. A big, action spectacle with a ton of spaceship dogfighting seems like an idea that would come straight out of ILM.
How does Felicity Jones fit into this?
Considering she was the only member of the cast to be announced along with the title, I’m prone to guessing that she’ll be the titular Rogue One. That being said, who knows, maybe she’s a supporting character. Lucasfilm only states that she’s the “first actress cast” for the film. It says nothing about a starring role.
Still, I think Jones would make an awesome X-Wing pilot, and giving her the lead role would do a lot to off-set Marvel’s general reluctance to put its female characters front and center.
Will it be set in between Episode VII and VIII?
Possibly, but not necessarily. These standalone installments are meant to explore the larger Star Wars universe outside of the core films. With rumors still swirling about potential Boba Fett and Yoda-centric movies, my guess is that any point in the timeline is open for business. There are after all, a lot of gaps in the story to fill now that all of the Expanded Universe is out the window.
That being said, if Disney wants to stick with this new era of Star Wars, I can certainly imagine a story of a new Rogue Squadron that’s formed after the war ends, perhaps led by Felicity Jones’ character. And perhaps one that doesn’t quite play by the rules? That could offer a nice little play on words with the title.
However… there is the matter of those previous rumors…
Late last year we heard a juicy rumor that the movie would revolve around a group of bounty hunters hired to retrieve the plans for the first Death Star. You know, the plans the Rebels eventually used to blow the thing up in Episode VII. Sources described it as Suicide Squad meets Ocean’s Eleven, with a Star Wars spin of course.
That’s an incredibly cool idea, and while it never got past the unverified rumor stage, it still feels like a possibility to me, even with the official title. A ragtag group of rebels and mercenaries banding together to pull off the ultimate heist? I can 100% get behind that idea, especially if they can toss in a few starfighter battles.
That being said, we literally don’t know anything for sure right now beyond the title and one of the actresses involved. Filming will begin as early as this summer though, so we have to imagine that the story is already in place. It’s just a matter of time before we know more.