If you haven’t yet seen Rogue One and you don’t want to know anything about it or how it ends before you see it, you probably should stop reading. This has been your one and only spoiler warning.
A few days ago, the original Star Wars (sorry, I will never refer to it as A New Hope) was playing on TBS. Actually, the first six Star Wars movies have been playing on TBS a lot lately. (I suppose if you pay a lot of money to have the exclusive basic cable rights for a group of movies, you’re going to show those movies all the time.) Anyway, I hadn’t watched the original Star Wars in awhile (which, for me, means like “a year”) and thought it might be interesting to see it again before I saw Rogue One. (Yes, I own many copies of Star Wars, but for some reason I decided to watch it on TBS with commercials. I will never be able to explain this.)
Rogue One ends literally minutes before the start of the original Star Wars, which can’t help but reframe the original film. So, below, here are a few ways the original Star Wars is now, strangely, different.
Han and Luke are knuckleheads who ruin everything
It’s very weird to watch two hours and fifteen minutes of the intense Rogue One, all centered on this team taking on a suicide mission in an effort to capture the plans to the Death Star, only to watch numbskulls Han Solo and Luke Skywalker literally return those plans (hidden in R2-D2) right back to the Death Star. I now picture Jyn and Cassian, embracing on the Scarif beach, as the world crumbles around them, taking solace in the fact that the Death Star plans are safe and sound in the hands of the Rebel Alliance – having no clue dummies Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are out there, ready to take the plans right back. This aspect of Star Wars now plays like an Abbott and Costello routine.
It’s remarkable how loose the original Star Wars looks now
I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue One (except for when cartoon man, CGI Tarkin showed up and took me out of the movie), but it’s a very modern, non-stop action movie. It looks like the original Star Wars, but its filmmaking core is very much 2016. It’s not just intense because of the action and destruction, it’s intense because the pace is intense. These people are on a mission and they must succeed! Then we get back to the 1977 film and no one seems to have much of a plan at all and are taking their own damn sweet time figuring it all out. Everyone seems to be winging it, “Eh, we’ll figure it out I guess.” Not to mention we spend 15 minutes watching C-3PO and R2-D2 walking around Tatooine and bickering. (I have a friend who tried to watch Star Wars once and quit because, her words, “It was just two robots walking around in the desert.”) There’s no sense of urgency in Star Wars, at least comparatively, and it’s kind of refreshing. But when people start watching these two movies back to back, the change in tone will be startling.
We have to rethink the whole opening scene
In the last minutes of Rogue One, brave Rebel soldiers reenact a relay race, only instead of a baton, it’s the Death Star plans, and instead of competing against other runners, it’s Darth Vader slicing them up and down. (This scene is legit scary.) Finally, the Rebels enter the hidden Tantive IV (which is hidden in another larger ship), hand the plans to Princess Leia, and the Tantive IV escapes off into space as Vader looks on.
As we know, in the next film the Empire soon catches up with the Tantive IV and Leia. The dialogue is now, retroactively, very odd. It’s funny the Leia’s excuse is basically, “What? That wasn’t us.” And Vader is like, “No, I literally just saw you.” Leia swears they are on a diplomatic mission, which seems farfetched because there are Rebel troops littered all over the Tantive IV, dressed the same way they were just minutes before.
Anyway, what used to play as the Empire commandeering a Rebel ship based on a hunch or some sort of intelligence now plays like the end of a boring car chase. It would be like Sherriff Buford T. Justice catching The Bandit only to have the The Bandit say, “Nah, wasn’t me. And you have some nerve wasting my time.” Maybe this is why Vader gets so mad so quickly, “You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor!” Like, what is this nonsense? Enough with this. I hope in a future special edition, Vader now says, “If this is a consular ship, then where is the ambassador? Also, I literally just saw all of you people take the plans.”
Where is all the new tech?
This has been a running joke on my Twitter feed, but I assumed there’d be some explanation. I mean, maybe there is? Are we to assume every TIE Striker and U-Wing was on Scarif when it was destroyed? Maybe! But probably not? And what happened to all the Death Troopers? In subsequent films, I now imagining Vader giving the order to find young Skywalker and being told, “Yes, my lord. We will send out our best Death Troopers to scour the galaxy. We will find him, my lord.” And to have Vader respond, “No, it’s fine, the normal Stormtroopers will do.”
It’s just kind of funny there seems to be more new tech introduced in the days leading up to the original Star Wars than there was in The Force Awakens.
In the original Star Wars, Tarkin now looks great!
After society collapses, then rebuilds, then discovers Star Wars and watches them in order, future societies will remark how much better Peter Cushing looks in Episode IV than he does in Rogue One. I imagine most post-viewing discussions would go something like,
“I have to say, I was worried about this actor in Rogue One playing Tarkin, he looked like at any time his atomic structure might collapse and he’d dissipate into nothingness. Was this a common ailment in that time period? Anyway, by the time the next film came he must have received treatment, because he looks so full of life again.”
“Oh, yes, Globual 7, I was thinking the same thing about that young woman at the end of Rogue One. The ‘atomic structure might collapse’ disease was probably going around on set. But in the next movie she looked fine, too. I’m glad they found the antidote.”
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.