The Rogue Squadron movie is dead — here’s why that’s a good thing
Maybe Rogue Squadron was never meant to be a movie at all.
Lock S-Foils in attack position! It looks like the Patty Jenkins-directed Rogue Squadron Star Wars standalone movie won’t make the jump to hyperspace anytime soon. According to Variety, Disney has pulled Rogue Squadron from its upcoming release schedule. But what if Rogue Squadron was never destined to be a movie?
Here’s why Rogue Squadron should be reimagined as a Disney+ show and make the dreams of Star Wars fans everywhere come true.
It makes sense that Lucasfilm originally wanted to depict epic starfighter battles on the big screen. But from a storytelling perspective, adventures focused on the exploits of starfighter pilots in the Star Wars universe would also make wonderful material for a TV series.
Case in point? Arguably the most successful and interesting Star Wars novel series that wasn’t focused on a main character from the movies is the Rogue Squadron/X-Wing novels and comic books published between 1999 and 2012. In both the novels and the Dark Horse Comics, the development of individual squadron members created a wonderfully diverse ensemble that is arguably unparalleled in other self-contained Star Wars stories. And while at least one pilot from these Legends stories (Coran Horn) became a Jedi, the Force never overpowers the other story elements in the Rogue Squadron tales.
The setting of a hypothetical Rogue Squadron TV series could dovetail nicely with the timeline of other, Mandalorian-era shows. Because Luke Skywalker formed the squadron following the Battle of Yavin, and the founding members were basically just him and Wedge Antilles, it might be tricky to do a TV show centered on a classic-trilogy-era Luke. (Do we really want to see a digitally de-aged Mark Hamill every week?) Instead, a Rogue Squadron series centered on Wedge but set in the Mando era could be perfect. We’ve already had glimpses of Republic X-wing pilots in both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett — why not commit to an entire series featuring the pilots?
While the Patty Jenkins movie was supposedly going to be set in the sequel era and would have featured a new version of Rogue Squadron, the continuity of the post-Return of the Jedi/Mando era feels more narratively interesting. And, for what it’s worth, it’s also close to where the original books and novels were set in the timeline anyway. (Give or take a few years.)
The 2003-2009 Battlestar Galactica proved you could a TV series that featured starfighter pilots and make the effects look amazing for the small screen. Prior to that, the cult series Space: Above and Beyond (1995) also made a good case for a fighter pilot TV show set in space. Because Star Wars has pretty much the best spaceships when it comes to sci-fi dogfights, it feels nuts that there’s never even been an attempt to try a Rogue Squadron show before, even in animated form. The fandom has been long-primed for a series like this, so much so that, when the title for Rogue One was announced in 2015, many fans and even Rogue Squadron author Michael Stackpole assumed that movie was also about Rogue Squadron.
A Rogue Squadron TV series set in 9 ABY would already have canonical precedent for recasting Wedge Antilles. Wedge was played by current 74-year-old Denis Lawson in all three films in the classic trilogy — but he wasn’t just played by Lawson. Colin Higgins was originally cast to play the role in A New Hope but, when he couldn’t learn his lines, he was fired and replaced by Lawson. This led to many fans labeling Colin Higgins as “Fake Wedge.”
On top of that, neither Higgins nor Lawson recorded Wedge’s dialogue for A New Hope — both were dubbed by David Ankrum. Higgins’ character was later retconned as “Col Takbright,” but because he was hired to play Wedge and then replaced by Lawson, that’s still a Wedge recasting. So, any way you slice it, three people played Wedge in A New Hope. And it wasn’t until The Empire Strikes Back that we heard Lawson’s real voice matching up as Wedge. (David Ankrum even recorded new Wedge voiceover dialogue for Rogue One in 2016.) On top of all this, Wedge was also voiced by Nathan Kress in Rebels.
So, if there was a Rogue Squadron TV series focused on Wedge, it feels like recasting the character wouldn't be a big deal (though it would be nice to see Lawson, who cameoed in The Rise of Skywalker, appear in the hypothetical project). From there, this series practically produces itself!