Last December, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story kicked off the new era of anthology films with the darkest ending in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back. There may have been “hope” in the closing moments, but there was definitely a lot of death along the way. That’s not what people expected from Lucasfilm under Disney’s ownership. And apparently, even the screenwriters of Rogue One didn’t believe that Disney or Lucasfilm would allow the story to go there.
There are major spoilers ahead for Rogue One! Stop reading now if you still haven’t seen the movie several months after it came out. You’ve been warned!
As filmed, every major character introduced in Rogue One died by the film’s conclusion, including Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor. According to a report in Entertainment Weekly, Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta indicated that there was always a desire to kill off all of the heroes, but an early draft of the script spared Jyn and Cassian from that fate. “A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface,” said Whitta. “The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.” He went on to reveal that Darth Vader would have been in pursuit of their ship and he would have ultimately destroyed their ship after the transfer. However, Jyn and Cassian would have gotten “away in an escape pod just in time,” noted Whitta. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”
Whitta also went to explain why that ending felt wrong for the film. “The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult,” said Whitta. “We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif,] and that was the way it ended. We were constantly trying to make all the pieces fit together. We tried every single idea. Eventually, through endless development you get through an evolutionary process where the best version rises to the top.”
Ultimately, that was probably the right decision for this story. The entire Rogue One team sacrificed themselves on Scarif for the greater good of the rebellion, and their deaths gave the story an emotional gut punch that it wouldn’t have had if they simply escaped without consequence. It’s also encouraging to know that Disney and Lucasfilm aren’t afraid to let the stories get dark. That’s a good sign for the future of the franchise.
What did you think about Rogue One‘s alternate happy ending? Launch an escape pod and share your thoughts below!
Image Credit: Lucasfilm