Ok, if you haven’t seen Rogue One, stop right here. First, what are you doing with your life, go out and see it, it’s amazing! Second, don’t read any further unless you don’t care about some pretty major spoilers.
Ok, you’re still here? Moving on.
The ending that made it to the theatrical release of Rogue One was, in my opinion, the only one that made sense. The entire central cast dies. Even Jyn Erso, the main character meets her end via the Death Star’s destructive super weapon. But according to an interview Directer Gareth Edwards did with Empire , That wasn’t always the plan. When asked about the ending that mad the final movie, here was his response:
The very first version, they didn’t. In the screenplay. And it was just assumed by us that we couldn’t do that. ‘They’re not going to let us do that.’ So I was trying to figure out how this ends where that doesn’t happen. And then everyone read that and there was this feeling of like, ‘They’ve got to die, right?’ And everyone was like, ‘Yeah, can we?’
We thought we weren’t going to be allowed to but Kathy [Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm] and everyone at Disney were like ‘Yeah it makes sense/ I guess they have to because they’re not in A New Hope.’ And so from that point on we had the license.
I kept waiting for someone to go, ‘You know what? Could we just film an extra scene where we see Jyn and Cassian, they’re okay and they’re on another planet?’ And it never came. No one ever gave us that note, so we got to do it.
Personally, I feel this was for the best. Chaim Gartenberg wrote a great piece at The Verge about how one of Rogue One‘s strengths is that it ends. I agree with that assessment. With everyone dying for the cause and setting up the events of A New Hope the film has closure, and the reference to them as the team of rebel spies works. Had they survived and had Disney / Lucasfilm tried to make a sequel that ran parallel to the original trilogy, it would have been harder to explain why they weren’t in the main saga, or even mentioned again.
I already felt like Disney would be a good steward of the Star Wars universe. Marvel was a great example to me for how Disney would likely approach the Lucasfilm properties. Hands-off, let the people that know the property best chart the course forward. This act of restraint, choosing the story, and by extension, the fans, over the potential to make more money off of a sequels makes me all the more certain that the future is bright for the Star War franchise.
Note: The podcast containing the interview with Empire has since been taken down, but should be back up next week according to Empire