Part of Disney’s master plan to annualize Star Wars is releasing standalone anthology films in the years between the numbered episodes of the Skywalker family saga. This initiative begins with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which details the Rebel Alliance’s dangerous mission to steal the original Death Star plans. A key selling point of these spinoffs is the fact that they can blend multiple genres and bring in some fresh perspectives for the franchise. For instance, Rogue One has long been established as a gritty war drama in space, while Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s young Han Solo film is going to break some rules in its own right.
Fans of the galaxy far, far away are no doubt excited to see their favorite universe fleshed out in (hopefully) exciting ways, but Lucasfilm also has to market these projects to casual audiences, some of whom may be unaware how an anthology movie is different from an episode. Despite there being three trailers online, certain viewers still don’t know where in the timeline Rogue One fits, so Lucasfilm has to do everything they can to separate their two main series of films in an effort to make things as clear as possible. There’s been much discussion about whether or not Rogue One will include a text crawl at the beginning, and all signs are pointing to “no” right now.
Star Wars News Net is hearing from a source of theirs that Rogue One will open “way different than the classic Star Wars films.” This is just the latest piece of evidence that the movie will not feature an opening crawl, which of course was the standard practice for the previous seven installments. While this will be disappointing for some who enjoy hearing the classic fanfare and watching the famous yellow text fly up the screen, it does make a great deal of sense for the studio. Given that any Star Wars film is going to be a big-budget blockbuster, eliminating the crawl is perhaps the easiest way to let moviegoers know that this is a new kind of Star Wars movie with little connections to the main storyline.
As for how Rogue One director Gareth Edwards plans to mix up the approach remains to be seen. Much of Star Wars media typically starts with some kind of context for the main narrative; episodes of The Clone Wars series began with old fashioned news reels that filled viewers in, whereas the novels kick things off with three paragraphs to ease readers in. Those two would be viable options for Rogue One, so it will interesting to see what Edwards and his team ultimately decided on. Additionally, many will be curious to learn if the film’s opening will set a template that future spinoffs will follow or if each one can be unique.
No doubt, some longtime fans are going to be upset by the news, since opening text crawls have been part of Star Wars‘ DNA since 1977. However, it’s more important for Rogue One‘s actual plot to offer a rewarding experience, as opposed to the film sticking to long-established tropes for the sake of familiarity. As long as the movie is considered good by fans and/or critics, few will ultimately care that the spinoff was the first live-action entry to bypass the opening crawl. If the whole point of the standalones is to show that the galaxy is bigger than the story of a single family, then they should be able to do their own thing.