Pointing out continuity errors is something of a sport among science fiction fans, and over the years, Star Wars has created enough of those errors to fill a space cruiser. As if contradicting itself across seven films wasn’t enough, the franchise has set itself up for even more scrutiny with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. By making a movie about a largely overlooked, unseen moment in Star Wars — the capture of the Death Star Plans — Rogue One is putting front and center a narrative MacGuffin that was never designed to be the subject of a feature film. And that can only mean awkward retrofitting.
The success of Rogue One as a film probably relies on the general emotional response people have to it; the larger themes matter more, as opposed to the middling space minutiae of previously established lore. But then again, Rogue One is also about those details. With that in mind, here are the five things Rogue One needs to cover to keep it safe from the wrath of nitpicking Star Wars fans.
5. The Status of the ‘Rogue One’ Team
The newest Star Wars adventure presents a team of Rebels who decide to steal the Death Star plans. But where are all these characters in subsequent installments? And if the vast majority of the characters are deceased, it seems strange that no one has mentioned them. To be fair, Rogue One is practically the poster-child for retroactive continuity, and they couldn’t exactly have predicted them when the original Star Wars script was written 40 years ago, but if these characters are simply unsung heroes of the Rebel Alliance, a credibility gap is already widening. Plus, there’s the weirdness of Rogue Squadron already existing in Star Wars. In old continuity, Luke Skywalker reformed Red Squadron into Rogue Squadron after the Battle of Yavin. But now, are we supposed to believe the Rogue Squadron in The Empire Strikes Back is in honor of the heroes of Rogue One?
4. The Original Plan for Stealing Death Star Plans and Who Gets Credit
If you’ve just watched the original Star Wars before going into Rogue One, you’d probably assume the endgame for stealing the Death Star plans went something like this: Somebody gets the plans, gives them to Princess Leia to eventually bring to her father “safely on Alderaan.” The idea for Princess Leia to be a courier of the plans happened because of her diplomatic immunity as a member of the Imperial Senate (which got tossed out the window because the Emperor gets rid of the political obstacle of a legit government). They never mention “stealing” the plans. And yet, when Leia shows up on Yavin IV with the plans, General Dodonna credits her exclusively when he says, “An analysis of the plans provided by Princess Leia …” To be fair, he does mispronounce her name as LEE-AH, but if this guy is aware of what Jyn Erso is up to in Rogue One, why doesn’t he even mention her? Surely, smart Rebel generals know Leia is not the only one responsible for this operation.
3. The “First Victory” for the Rebels is What Exactly?
This problem isn’t even something Rogue One will mess up, since the Disney XD show, Star Wars Rebels, has already created a minor continuity error in tallying the supposed victories for the Rebel Alliance. The opening text crawl of 1977’s Star Wars proclaims that the Rebels “have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.” But we’ve already seen the Rebels score many victories in the first three seasons of Rebels. So, in Rogue One, we’re dealing with a specific victory, which the film must depict. The crawl also says that “During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans …” This presents one hurdles for Rogue One: How do you define “victory?” Presumably, if the Rebels meet all their goals — which seems to just be to steal the plans — then the battle is classified as a “victory.” Does that discount the value of what happened in Rebels?
2. The Empire’s Power Structure
Grand Moff Tarkin is clearly in charge of the Death Star in A New Hope, but Orson Krennic is the primary Imperial villain in Rogue One. A quick guess has lead most fans to conclude that Orson Krennic will be taken down a few notches during the events of Rogue One, possibly even killed for making various mistakes if he doesn’t die in some other way. But, there’s a bit of chain-of-command murkiness in the way the Empire works. Granted, the ill-defined job descriptions of people in the Empire are hardly unique to Rogue One, but if Krennic is glorified space-architect, how does he legitimately fit into the command structure of the Empire? Why would somebody who decides the shape of the windows on a battle station also be allowed to command people called Death Troopers?
1. Why is There an Exhaust Port in the Death Star?
This is the big one. Because Rogue One is 100% about the Death Star, then it follows that the “design flaw” in the Death Star must be explained. The good money on is on Galen Erso — Jyn’s father — being directly responsible for this design flaw. This begs a huge question: If someone sympathetic to the Rebellion designed a small little hole, which he later hoped would be occupied by a bomb, why are the plans even necessary? A New Hope makes the exhaust port seem like new information. If Galen Erso designed it on purpose, the plans become a little bit superfluous. Wouldn’t he just send his daughter an e-mail that says, “Hey, look for holes on this thing, I promise.”
Rogue One opens this Friday, December 16.