If stealing the blueprints for the Death Star turns out to be more dangerous than attacking the Death Star itself, then there’s every reason to believe that Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, Baze Malbus, Chirrut Îmwe, K-2SO, and the rest of the brave Rebel squad in Rogue One won’t make it out of this operation alive.
In all the existing Star Wars movies — particularly that pesky original film which is all about the Death Star — none of these characters are referenced. Were they just not given credit the same way Chewie was bizarrely not given a medal at the end of A New Hope? Sure, this could be a sloppy oversight on the part of the Rebellion, or it could be worse. The fate of this brave band of Rebels could be sealed. Maybe Rogue One is planning on killing two womp rats with one laser blast: Keep its Star Wars continuity clean and tug on everyone’s heartstrings at the same time.
A lot of fans have already postulated that Rogue One’s big-bad Orson Krennic will probably be killed by Darth Vader. This makes good sense: Krennic is trying to gain favor with the Emperor by dressing in snazzy capes and being evil. We know he’s not around in the other movies and that Darth Vader’s capes are snazzier. So, it stands to reason Vader doesn’t defeat Krennic in a Zoolander-style runway walk-off, but instead, stabs Krennic with his ligthsaber. And even if Vader doesn’t kill Krennic, then Jyn and her buddies will instead.
But what if none of the good guys survive either? Since early marketing, Rogue One has been touted as a true “war movie,” like a sci-fi version of Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line. If this is true, then we’re dealing with a platoon’s worth of Rebel soldiers who all might become one with the Force in their effort to steal the Death Star plans. Has a Star Wars movie ever done something so dark as to have all of its protagonists die in the end? Well, if you were watching these films in the order in which the events happen, then the movie right before this one would be Revenge of the Sith, in which the film’s hero kills little children. Having an entire group of scrappy good guys sacrifice themselves for a good cause would be tame by comparison.
Okay, so maybe the powers that be at Lucasfilm/Disney won’t allow for all of their newly minted Star Wars heroes to die. Perhaps Jyn, the film’s main protagonist, will live. But, the real question isn’t how many of the Rogue Oners die, but instead, how many of them will survive? In the time of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi, we know many Bothan spies died to get those plans. But was this first round of plan-stealing without any casualties? Not even one?
If we’re going to be afraid of the Empire again, we need some stakes. In A New Hope, Vader threw some guy against a wall after choking him to death with his hand. That’s pretty hardcore. If Rogue One is going to be even more hardcore than that, then we need to prepare ourselves for some serious grieving over a small band or Rebels, struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy…