Did Lucasfilm Make the Right Call by Changing the ‘Rogue One’ Ending?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Lucasfilm)

It’s no secret that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had a tumultuous production period.

The movie was reshot extensively, with as much as 40% of the finished film coming from the last minute reshoots. As such, the special effects, editing, and even music scoring were all rushed out a lot faster than is typically the standard for Hollywood movies.

With so much footage on the cutting room floor, and rumors that the movie was heavily changed in the eleventh hour, fans have wondered how the final cut of the movie differs from what we were originally intended to receive.

Now, we have another insight into what was lost, as a new image that’s been released by Lucasfilm shows a very different final act for the movie (beware of full spoilers from this point onwards).

The image in questions shows Jyn and Cassian rather casually checking their equipment, with Jyn carrying the Death Star plans in her left hand.

Source: Lucasfilm

This image matches up with footage from the movie’s trailers, which show Jyn running across the beach, data tape in hand.

It seems that, at one point in production, Jyn and Cassian were required to get the Death Star plans back onto the beach, presumably in an attempt to transmit the plans from a second location.

What’s more, several key characters were intended to survive to at least this point in the movie – Baze Malbus can be seen alive and well in the photo alongside Jyn and Cassian, while a second image showing Alan Tudyk on the beach suggests that Kaytoo was also intended to survive the Imperial facility.

Source: Lucasfilm

So how would this ending have played out? Rumor has it that only very early drafts of the script would have seen any of the key characters in the movie survive the Death Star’s destruction of the Imperial records facility, so it was always the plan while filming to have Jyn and friends die at the end of the movie.

Instead of being picked off one by one, though, it seems that several key characters would have survived to transmit the Death Star plans before being killed by the space station’s giant laser instead.

Perhaps Disney thought this ending was a bit too abrupt – that after surviving the chaos of an intense battle, it wasn’t fair to audiences to kill off everyone after they’d already saved the day. It made more sense to prepare viewers by showing them each death one by one, instead of lumping all together in a final explosion.

This certainly adds additional pathos to each death scene, and makes the final battle all the more tense and nerve-wracking.

Plus, it gives every character their own little moment as they all get killed off one by one, giving us the chance to mourn for them.

Direct Gareth Edwards certainly went for a risky choice in murdering every single character in his film. It’s a refreshing decision to make with such a big budget franchise, particularly considering that other Disney properties like Marvel seem incapable of killing any main character, for fear of losing toy sales for future movies.

Source: Lucasfilm

Considering how popular Rogue One has proven, there’s every probability that a sequel would have been well received, and fans are no doubt eager to see more adventures with some of their favorite characters.

Considering the deliberate one-and-done nature of the story, and its very final ending, it’s probably for the best that Lucasfilm decided to kill off Rogue One’s characters gradually, rather than in one big go right at the end.

But who knows? Perhaps a deleted scene or scrapped storyboard exists somewhere that sees Jyn Erso surviving the movie’s climax, before heading off into the sunset to go make friends with a group of Bothans.

Longtime Star Wars fans know there’s no possible way that such a fate could end badly.

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