11:25am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Star Wars': Does 'Rogue One' Mean X-Wing Pilots Will Get the Spotlight?
So, we're apparently going to get a movie about Star Wars' X-Wing pilots.
Or, at least, that's the most obvious reading of the title of Gareth Edwards' 2016 stand-alone Star Wars movie, which we now know is Rogue One. For those who remember the original Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's group of X-Wing fighters in the climactic space battle were all numbered Rogues — Luke was Rogue Five — and a spinoff video game featuring X-Wing fighters was titled Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. (There was also a comic book series titled Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron, to underscore the connection.)
Rogue One, going by the internal logic of the original Star Wars movie, is either the leader of that particular group of pilots, or the first pilot in the squadron outside of the leader (The confusion comes from the fact that the movies have established a "Rogue leader," but it's unclear if he's also known as Rogue One). Previously, that role was filled by Wedge Antilles, a character that appeared in the original trilogy, played by Denis Lawson, although that doesn't necessarily mean that he would be the Rogue One in any future movie projects. After all, the 67-year-old Lawson might not be interested in reprising the role, nor might Disney be interested in maintaining such tight continuity with the Star Wars: The Force Awakens timeline for its stand-alone installments in the series.
This doesn't mean that the movie might not focus on the early career of Antilles, and recast the part — or, of course, simply put a new character in the Rogue Squadron pole position altogether. Indeed, the news that Felicity Jones has been the first actor announced for the movie suggests that she might be the title character, giving us — finally! — female pilots in the Star Wars universe after they got cut from Return of the Jedi 30 years ago.
Assuming the speculation is correct, it could be a smart move to focus the first stand-alone project on the X-Wing fighters of the Rebellion; it offers a framework that is familiar to fans of the franchise to date, but one that's been left pretty much unexplored outside of Luke Skywalker's interactions with them in the original trilogy. It also allows the movie to plug in to another element of the war movie genre — who doesn't love a good fighter pilot story? — and play with what it's like to be "just" a soldier in the intergalactic conflict, as opposed to one of the movers and shakers responsible for the major victories.
An X-Wing fighter movie would manage to open out the world(s) of Star Wars in so many ways — introducing new characters, a new way to look at the conflicts and, possibly, a way to explore class structures and rank that were completely ignored in the series until now — that it almost seems too obvious to not have happened already. If this truly is what audiences should expect from Rogue One, then it's time to get excited … and then feel frustrated because it's not being released until Dec. 16, 2016.