Updated Dec. 19: to reflect the Rogue One Visual Dictionary showing that Saw Gerrera will be in Star Wars Rebels. Apparently Lucasfilm read this, decided they agreed, and used a time machine to go back and put Saw in Rebels. 😀 Head to the bottom for photos.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has now been released and I’m sure we’ve all made it to the theaters multiple times to take in all the new Star Wars goodness. I greatly enjoyed the film, but I do have to wonder if Lucasfilm missed an opportunity to connect the film to the Star Wars Rebels TV show.
The idea of an interconnected film and television universe is not a new one, but it has become the next big thing recently in filmmaking and storytelling. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has pushed this idea to a level we have never seen before with films regularly in theaters and more than one television series airing in the same connected universe. We have seen characters from the big screen show up on the small screen, and to a much lesser extent the TV characters have shown up on the big screen. Marvel has even begun putting their new TV characters into their comic books as well. You can follow the adventures of Agent Phil Coulson through the first phase of Marvel movies into the Agents of SHIELD TV series and then in the monthly comics. Again, this is not a new idea, but Marvel is executing to a degree that no one else has quite done before.
I loved seeing that Saw Gerrera, a character from the Clone Wars animated series, was coming to the big screen in Rogue One and seeing elements from Star Wars Rebels show up in the final film just made me ecstatic. It’s clear that the Lucasfilm Story Group has put a lot of time and care into making sure that these elements are connected and that every story serves the larger purpose. However, even with all that being said I was hoping for more.
I wonder if the level of interconnectedness of Marvel has spoiled us to the point where we expect other franchises to do it to the same degree. I remember when Captain America: Winter Soldier came out. The Tuesday following the film’s release Agents of SHIELD directly referenced the events of that film. Meaning that you had better be up on both the TV series and the movies to follow the full story. Later, the TV show introduced an idea that became a lead in for Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s very much a comic book thing, and that could be why Marvel has done so well with it in their properties.
I was slightly disappointed when I saw that Rebels was not going to be doing anything similar. This is the first time that we have had a weekly Star Wars TV show on that is taking place in the same time frame as the movie being released. Obviously, they could not have done a tie-in with last year’s The Force Awakens because there is a nearly 40-year gap between the two. However, this time we have Rebels and Rogue One within 2 years of each other. There are plenty of story ideas and concepts that could be introduced, but sadly we didn’t see anything this season.
Looking at it objectively, there does appear to be two main blocks preventing this kind of crossover. First, is the time frame for the release of the film. December is usually when most shows go on hiatus, and that means either air an episode to possible lower ratings during the holidays or wait until the show comes back in the new year to connect. Second, is the ever evolving and changing production schedules between the two. It’s possible that Rebels may have introduced something this season, but that concept or character was removed from the final cut of Rogue One. Movies have such a long post-production process and animated series need to have so much locked in place early that it may not have been realistic to orchestrate a connection prior to the film’s release.
In the Rebels Recon episode for the final episode before their winter break, Pablo Hidalgo did mention that the show will have Rogue One connections in the second half of this season, and I am very excited to see what they have in store for us. I guess I’m just like Anakin in that I want more, even though I know I shouldn’t expect it.
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— Yancy Evans (@gallandro1) December 17, 2016