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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was like no other Star Wars movie we've ever seen. Gareth Edwards's remarkable film was the first ever Star Wars spinoff movie, and a war film that actually dared to kill its heroes. But Star Wars is more than just a series of blockbuster movies; the wider Star Wars universe incorporates a range of animated series, comics, novels, and games. So what impact has Rogue One had on this wider universe?
The Rogue One Novels
There's a strange sense in which our story begins with the Prequel Trilogy, when Lucasfilm first began to coordinate the release of blockbuster films with New York Times bestselling novels. Back then, they hit upon a winning strategy; they'd hire one author to write a prequel novel, setting the scene for the film, and another to write a novelization that released alongside the movie.
This time round, Lucasfilm wisely chose continuity king James Luceno for the prequel. Luceno is a detail-oriented writer whose knowledge of Star Wars minutia is unparalleled, and he'd already been responsible for a number of canon novels set between the trilogies. Luceno crafted a careful, intelligent story that fleshed out the backstories of Galen Erso and his wife, whilst exploiting the backdrop of a galaxy on the verge of rebellion. One important subplot showed the beginning of Saw Gerrera's campaign against the Empire, and established his relationship with the Erso family. And yet, what was remarkable about Catalyst was how little it revealed about the film. The story was focused on the characters of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic, and ended years before #RogueOne.
Alexander Freed's novelization, of course, told the same story as the film. Freed is no stranger to the Galaxy Far, Far Away; he'd already demonstrated his skill with Battlefront: Twilight Company, the tie-in novel to the first Battlefront game. Again, Lucasfilm chose wisely; Freed was perfectly suited to writing a Star Wars story that was pretty much stripped of its mysticism, and he perfectly captured the sense of hope that was the lifeblood of Gareth Edwards's movie. The synergy between the novel and the film was all the more impressive when you consider the scale of the Rogue One reshoots.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a gamble, but it paid off. Surprised at the film's success, Lucasfilm wasted little time in announcing further tie-ins, Greg Rucka's Guardians of the Whills and Beth Revis's Rebel Rising. Both were ostensibly aimed at young adults, and both added further detail to the worlds and characters of Rogue One. Beth Revis added a new layer of character to Jyn Erso, telling the story of her upbringing and giving us an intriguing account of Saw Gerrera's Partisans. Meanwhile, Rucka — an experienced writer in the world of Star Wars — enjoyed developing the Holy City of Jedha as a location, and reveled in the opportunity to develop some new mystical themes.
The final tie-in novel, Inferno Squad, saw the return of Christie Golden. Another experienced writer in Star Wars, Golden was heavily involved in the pre-Disney Star Wars universe, and penned the canon novel Dark Journey. This latest novel was a unique one, set in the shadow of Rogue One and showing the final end of Saw Gerrera's surviving Partisans. At the same time, though, it was intended as an introduction to the stars of the upcoming #BattlefrontII campaign mode. It achieved both goals perfectly; Golden penned a fascinating story, developed new characters, and at the same time carefully tied up plot threads from the previous books.
The Tie-In Comics
Although the Rogue One novels seem to have developed organically, the story of the tie-in comics is an intriguing one. Marvel announced an official tie-in comic for Rogue One back in April 2016, at the C2E2 Convention in Chicago. Less than a month later, though, the comics were quietly dropped. Retailer subscriptions were canceled, and Amazon sent out notice that pre-orders could not be fulfilled. No explanation has ever been given.
In the aftermath of Rogue One's theatrical release, though, Marvel signed up Jody Houser and Emilio Laiso to adapt the film for a comic. Recognizing fan interest in the reshoots, they carefully arranged for some deleted scenes — not included on the DVD / Blu-Ray release — to be added to the tie-in. Again, comic book adaptations like this are a tradition for Marvel when it comes to Star Wars, but the addition of the deleted scenes was a smart move.
Where the novels seem to be closing off their Rogue One tie-ins, there's no sign that this is the case in the comics. Over the weekend, Marvel announced that Kieron Gillen would be taking over their flagship Star Wars comic, replacing Jason Aaron, who had written the ongoing series since January 2015. Gillen is an experienced hand in Star Wars comics, writing the popular first series of Darth Vader and the current Doctor Aphra series, and his Star Wars run will continue to be set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. First stop? A return to the ravaged world of Jedha, with Luke, Leia and Han heading to a planet whose very crust has been cracked by the Death Star's superlaser.
Star Wars: Rebels
The novels and the comics are focused on the story continuing on from Rogue One, but the animated series #StarWarsRebels is still set before the Original Trilogy. That means it's setting up both Rogue One and A New Hope, and seeing the success of Rogue One, the creators of Rebels didn't waste a chance. They arranged for Forest Whitaker to return to Star Wars as the voice of Saw Gerrera, and introduced the character as a rebel leader whose methods were anathema to the Rebel Alliance. The next season is set to continue that arc, showing how Saw Gerrera finally parted ways with the Rebel Alliance, and setting him up for his role in novels like Guardians of the Whills.
As you can see, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has completely changed the shape of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away. It's exerted a powerful influence on Lucasfilm's ongoing range of novels, while it continues to transform the comics and animated series. The first Star Wars spinoff movie has itself sired a whole range of tie-ins, proving just how successful the film was in developing the Star Wars narrative. It's going to be interesting to see what tie-ins and spinoffs we get for next year's as-yet-untitled Han Solo movie...