Why You Should Include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in Your Star Wars Rewatch

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I have my problems with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but through my rewatch of the whole Star Wars saga leading up to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, I realized that it is an important part of the Star Wars canon that adds something valuable to the other movies. “I rebel,” a phrase cut from the movie but present in its marketing, is the true underlying tone of the entire film and reminds us of the importance of Star Wars outside of the big battles and love stories. (It’s also tattooed on my body, so I have a soft spot for it.)

Watching Rogue One and then going straight into A New Hope is fun because you realize, while reading the opening crawl, that it is a perfect prequel of sorts. It tells us the story of what was once just a line of backstory and gives the rebellion a depth that we only see briefly in Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo’s battles. Sure, it’s always there in the world of Star Wars that they are fighting against a tyrant, but what Rogue One does is lend weight to the fight that doesn’t otherwise exist.

We see death and destruction through characters we have no attachment to during the original trilogy, but to see Rogue One and to become connected with Jyn, Cassian, Bodhi, Chirrut Îmwe, and Baze over the course of the movie, and then watch as they all are wiped out by the very device they were trying to destroy, sets a harrowing tone for the original trilogy that wasn’t really there before.

Alderaan was blown up in the early stages of A New Hope, but other than Leia, who we hadn’t really gotten to know at that point, we didn’t know anyone from there. We saw Leia’s pain, but there was no connection for us. To me, watching as these characters we’ve rooted for sacrificed themselves in order to save the rebellion shows us how dire the world was and how the rebellion, with their lack of resources and their struggles, found ways to succeed because taking down Darth Vader and the Empire was the right thing to do.

All this being said, I think watching it before you see A New Hope for the first time doesn’t have to happen, but adding it to your rewatch does bring a weight to those movies that, without it, they do not have. The stakes are all there, but we only have just met the trio and their friends so we care about them. Imagine Kylo Ren’s father wasn’t Han Solo, and he just killed a random man on that bridge in The Force Awakens. It wouldn’t really hit that hard, but we cared about Han.

It’s the same principle with the original trilogy and those characters we watch randomly die in battle. They could have been Jyn or Bodhi, but it took Rogue One to give them that significance, and so, in the discussion of whether or not to watch Rogue One in your Star Wars preparation, I’m on the side of including it.

(image: Lucasfilm)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.