All Star Wars can be identified by a few key things.
Starships. Massive superweapons. Droids. Quality acting. Intelligent writing. Lightsabers.
Okay, so maybe not all of these elements are present in every Star Wars movie. They’ve not all been winners when it came to acting and storytelling (Thanks, Rick McCallum), but it’s hard to have a movie that’s set in this universe without a few funky Jedi running around, slicing off limbs with magic glowing laser swords.
Of course, Rogue One doesn’t have a Jedi—at least, not in the traditional sense. It’s got Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, but as George Lucas has proven time and again, unless you can do a hundred CGI backflips while waving your lightsaber around, you’re not really a Jedi.
A hundred CGI backflips might have been on the cards for Rogue One at one point, though. Apparently, in an early version of the script, Jyn Erso’s mother was going to be a Jedi in hiding.
Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that Lucasfilm rethought this.
We’ve all seen Jedi. We’ve seen old, mostly pacifist Jedi like Obi Wan in A New Hope, who claims that “there are alternatives to fighting”, but who has a very different attitude when someone gets grabby in a bar.
We’ve seen badass “Say What Again” Jedi like Mace Windu, who, let’s face it, is only in the prequels because George Lucas was watching too much Pulp Fiction while developing The Phantom Menace.
We’ve even seen really awful Jedi like Anakin Skywalker, whose attempts to be a hero ended with infanticide and multiple limb loss. Or, alternatively, Luke Skywalker, whose strategy when something goes wrong is to run and hide on a craggy clifftop until his daughter Rey comes to get him.
What we haven’t seen, until Rogue One at least, is a movie without Jedi. It was beginning to seem as if nothing interesting happens in the Galaxy Far, Far Away unless a lightsaber is nearby.
Not including a Jedi in Rogue One was a pretty daring move. It was one of the many risks that Rogue One took, and it definitely pays off.
Having a story without Jedi has expanded the Star Wars universe. It’s reinforced the idea that life goes on throughout the galaxy, even when magic space knights aren’t having one of their frequent political squabbles.
Here’s hoping that future Star Wars movies manage to expand upon this by taking things further away from the beaten track. Let’s get movies that focus on non-humans, or that take place outside of the Republic or the Empire.
Well, you know. Apart from this one.