With the success of The Mandalorian and the announcement of countless other series in the works, the future of Star Wars is streaming. Yet a couple of those old-fashioned motion pictures they used to have in the olden days are also being developed, starting with Rogue Squadron in 2023. If indeed cinemas still exist in 2023. The film is inspired by the books and video games of the same name released in the 1990’s but will tell its own tale, according to director Patty Jenkins. The press release reads, “The story will introduce a new generation of starfighter pilots as they earn their wings and risk their lives in a boundary-pushing, high-speed thrill-ride, and move the saga into the future era of the galaxy.”
It’s this tantalising line about “the future era of the galaxy” that births my first hope for the upcoming film. I want Rogue Squadron to be set post Rise of Skywalker. The time period has yet to be confirmed and semantics loom large over the quote, but I do believe we will be going further into the Star Wars timeline than we’ve ever gone before. I know the sequels are divisive but I think pushing forward is something Star Wars desperately needs right now. We have so many series, books and comics currently exploring the events soon after Return of the Jedi that another movie set during that time period is going to be severely limited. Instead of mopping up the Imperial Remnant after the original trilogy, it should feature pilots of the newly reformed New Republic ridding the galaxy of any First Order holdouts.
As with Return of the Jedi before it, Rise of Skywalker ends with galaxy-wide celebrations and lots of hugging, but revolution doesn’t happen overnight. I think the peace will remain longer after the sequels than it did after the originals, which saw the First Order rise, because the actual galaxy struck back at the end of the sequels with a civilian fleet rather than just a small group of rebels. Yet no amount of N1 Starfighters and Holdo manoeuvres are going to completely eliminate every Star Destroyer or First Order base. With a smaller scope than the saga films, Rogue Squadron could focus on a singular team against a more personal foe, without the galactic repercussions. Or maybe the film could even be set between The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, or begin at the invasion of Exogol.
While I anticipate the film is set later than the novels and games it takes inspiration from, one element I hope remains is Wedge Antilles as a founding member and mentor to the squadron. While this could be done with de-aging technology if the film is set closer to the original films, Denis Lawson could easily play the character again without any CGI if it were set in the sequel era. Lawson had been notoriously grumpy about Star Wars for years but, surprisingly, made a brief cameo in Rise of Skywalker and attended Star Wars Celebration. If he were given a meatier role in Rogue Squadron then I think he would return for it. And, after the production standstills of 2020, I’m sure he could use the cash. In the canon, Wedge has been retired with his wife Nora, but is coaxed from his humble farm by his stepson Snap Wexley. After Snap’s death, Wedge could have a renewed purpose and seek to train a new squadron of ace pilots.
There’s always a question of legacy characters in any new Star Wars spin-off and I hope Rogue Squadron shows restraint in this aspect. While part of me wants to see Rey and Finn again, I think the ending of the saga should remain somewhat definitive and their Jedi journeys are better left unseen – for now at least. But how can you have a pilot movie without Poe Dameron. It’d be cool to see Poe in a limited capacity, with the best pilot in the Resistance now finding himself having more responsibilities in the New Republic. Maybe he only escapes the world of politics for a brief flight on occasion. He could be a confidant of Wedge and the two could exchange advice after Poe himself learn so much about leadership and responsibility from Lando, Leia and Holdo.
If a sequel trilogy character is to appear in a major way when I would like it to be Rose. I loved the character in The Last Jedi. She’s goes from being a fan girl to Finn, believing him to be a hero and she a lowly mechanic, to discovering that she has to show him how to truly be a hero while becoming a pivotal character herself. It’s the path you choose for yourself, not the one chosen for you. Rose shows that anyone can be a hero in Star Wars. And then The Rise of Skywalker was released and Rose was completely shafted. Both the character of Rose and actress Kelly Marie Tran deserve better and Rogue Squadron could, as Lor San Tekka puts it, “begin to make things right”. Oh, and more Connix would also be appreciated.
Probably the biggest complaint about the sequel trilogy is that the three films weren’t planned out beforehand, yet this is exactly what I want from Rogue Squadron. I don’t want a trilogy planned out because I don’t necessarily want a trilogy. Just focus on making one great film with a complete story and satisfying character development and then, if it’s a success and there is another story to tell with these characters, greenlight a sequel. I’m content without any new Star Wars trilogies, and prefer the idea of reaching out to directors to make a singular film in the galaxy far far away that they’re passionate about. Once Jenkins’ film is done then Waititi’s should be next, rather than six years devoted to a Rogue Squadron trilogy. Although, hypocritically, if Rian Johnson still wants to make his trilogy than move him straight to the front of the queue. But I think his project is dead.
With legacy characters limited, Rogue Squadron should place most of its focus on its new generation of starfighter pilots. Who should make up the ranks of this new crew? I have no idea, other than I hope at least one of them isn’t human. It does frustrate me that we see so many cool alien designs in the background of every Star Wars movie but the lead characters are always human. There are a few good reasons for this, from actor recognition to struggling to emote through a mask, but with an ensemble cast I think an alien should make up the ranks. With the right actor – just look at what Doug Jones can do beneath a mask – and modern animatronics, I think it would work. The video game Star Wars: Squadrons had a Trandoshan pilot, and we’ve seen other alien pilots such as Nien Nunb and Ello Asty take minor roles, but the time has come for a major alien character.
I have to admit that pilot stories in Star Wars are not always my favourite. I gravitate more towards the Jedi, or soldiers on the ground, so I guess my biggest hope is that Rogue Squadron makes me appreciate the lives and world of Starfighter pilots more. The film has to live up to the title ‘Rogue Squadron‘ and I hope characters within the film also understand the reverence and weight those words hold. That’s one more reason why setting the movie later in the timeline is the right call. The old Rogue Squadron missions could have happened and be hinted at during the film but, much like the filmmakers, a new generation have to come in and live up to the name.
What are your hopes for Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron film? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.