The Force is without question one of the most unique and recognizable elements in Star Wars, so it’s understandable why the Rogue One creative team would want to make sure it was a part of their film. There’s fascinating symbolism at play with the Imperial occupation of Jedha, as the Empire is attempting to purge all traces of the Jedi and exploit the moon’s resources for their own purposes. After generations of the Jedi Order serving the Republic, the galaxy has fallen into despair and those committed to fighting for freedom have to find a solution to their problems without overly relying on the Force for aid. At some point in Rogue One, Jyn Erso does say, “May the Force be with us,” so it’s clear that certain members of the Rebellion still trust in it, but it’s easy to see how many would doubt its existence with the rise of the Empire. And with things only getting worse, people have to take matters into their own hands.
Edwards’ implication that Star Wars can’t be Star Wars without the Force is an interesting one, seeing that the next anthology film on the slate is Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s young Han Solo movie. The smuggler, of course, never saw anything that made him believe there was one all-powerful Force controlling everything during his pre-A New Hope travels, which took him from one side of the galaxy to the other. It raises the question of how Lord and Miller will approach this subject in their project, since the Lucasfilm story group strives to ensure all canon materials are consistent with each other. There’s a distinct possibility Han Solo doesn’t feature the Force at all, which would be intriguing.