It’s a sequel to the prequels to the originals … and some are saying it’s the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit theaters with a Death Star sized bang last week. Mission one accomplished. Forget the plot of the movie – and rest assured this is a spoiler free zone – the real challenge was to add to the Star Wars universe without upsetting the legions of sometimes prickly fans.
General consensus is that the movies have been better since Disney got involved more and George Lucas was involved less, but this was a spinoff movie, not one of the vaunted triple trilogy fans were promised way back in the 80s. And this wasn’t a TV cartoon or a Christmas special or yet another line of toys. This was a full-fledged Hollywood movie, and it would star none of the heroes that made Star Wars famous. No Skywalkers in a Star Wars movie? Well, there could be one … but only from a certain point of view. Disney hit big with Episode 7, but they needed more. After all, the company shelled out $4 billion for Lucasfilm and the rights to the Star Wars franchise. That’s a lot of Star Destroyers. So that means Disney has a lot of ground to make up, and their charge is a real hit or miss proposition. The prequel trilogy was not well-received by most fans, and the franchise really couldn’t afford another mess like the revamped original trilogy or the slapstick, wooden-dialogued kid-cinema of Episodes 1 and 2.
In an interview with CNN, Disney’s executive VP of distribution said Rogue One would be a “great litmus test for storytelling outside the saga” … “This will give a great sense of how big these standalone stories can be and how they will be able to satisfy expanding the universe.”
He’s not wrong. Disney needs to hit big multiple times, and Rogue One will not only determine the market’s appetite for such offerings, it will set the stage for others to come. They only need to look at Marvel’s success with The Avengers to see a successful model. If Iron Man hadn’t hit so big, you can bet the Marvel Cinematic Universe would not have been so vast and optimistic. It’s safe to assume there would be no Doctor Strange and no Guardians of the Galaxy if there were no Captain America or the original Avengers film. This, even more than The Force Awakens, is Disney’s “Iron Man” moment. So far so good … but the full force of fandom has yet to weigh in.