Star Wars: Rogue One - What You Need to Know About Rogue Squadron
Last week, Disney announced that the title of the first standalone Star Wars movie would be Star Wars: Rogue One, sparking the understandable rumors that Gareth Edwards' movie would follow a rebel pilot using that now-famous call sign. But if you're left wondering what all the fuss is about, let this guide to Rogue One and Rogue Squadron enlighten you. Full disclosure, I am in no way saying that this is what Rogue One's story will explore, but it can't hurt to be prepared.
The Rogue Squadron
(Credit: Star Wars Atlas)
If you're not a gamer or avid reader of the old Star Wars expanded universe, you may be unaware of the Rogue Squadron's existence. In the old Star Wars canon, the Rogue Squadron was a team of top pilots who, at different times in Star Wars history, served a number of organizations including the Rebel Alliance, the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances and the New Republic. Formed in 0 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin in Episode IV), the Rogue Squadron was initially called Red Squadron and was formed with some of the alliance's best pilots with the express purpose of taking down the Empire's Death Star Battle Station.
The Battle of Yavin came at a high price for Red Squadron, with only Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles surviving the climactic battle from Star Wars: A New Hope. As the rebellion looked to regroup after their victory, two new elite squadrons were formed. Renegade Flight and Rogue Flight, the latter of which was led by Luke Skywalker, with Wedge Antilles second in command. The time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back is when Rogue Flight - which would eventually become Rogue Squadron- began to make a name for themselves, taking on a series of daring missions to shore up assets and deal further blows to the Imperial fleet. It was during this time that the Rogue Squadron went mainstream in Star Wars fandom, with the release of the first Rogue Squadron game on PC and Nintendo 64. So popular was the 1998 game that it eventually spawned an entire series, which included Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, and Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (we don't count those Naboo missions).
Beyond that, more than 150 years of Rogue Squadron's exploits have been documented in what is now a non-canon Star Wars expanded universe. Their exploits became a favorite of fans, and a few of those who commanded them, known as Rogue Leaders or Rogue One, became legendary.
Who is Rogue One?
Rogue One is much more than the title of Gareth Edwards' Star Wars spin-off movie, it's also the call sign traditionally used by Rogue Squadron's commander, Rogue Leader. Throughout the Rogue Squadron's history, Rogue Leaders were regarded as the best pilots a fleet had to offer, whether that be in the Rebel Alliance, the New Republic or the Galactic Alliance Starfighter Group. While Luke Skywalker may well be the most famous to hold the title, it was actually Wedge Antilles who was the first, and often most prominent, pilot to use the Rogue One call sign. See below for a full list of Rogue Ones, but please not, these titles are no longer canon.
- Wedge Antilles (0 ABY, 4 ABY, 6.5–7 ABY, 7.5–9 ABY, and 18–19 ABY)
- Luke Skywalker (3–4 ABY)
- (4 ABY, 6.5–7 ABY)
- Derek Klivian (7 ABY)
- Tycho Celchu (7 ABY, 10–18 ABY, and 19 ABY)
- Gavin Darklighter (19–28 ABY, and 28–30 ABY)
- Corran Horn (28 ABY)
- Jaina Solo (40 ABY)
- Lensi (40 ABY)
- Jhoram Bey (137 ABY)
- Anj Dahl (137 ABY)
There are two names that stand out on this list in the context of the Star Wars: Rogue One movie. Jaina Solo and Anj Dahl are the only two females ever to use the call sign Rogue One, and while that may not seem significant outside of the realm of galactic equality, consider the fact that we already know Star Wars: Rogue One has a female lead in the form of the remarkably talented, Felicity Jones. Again, it's worth reminding you (and myself) that since the Disney purchase, the old expanded universe has essentially been thrown out the window, which means the possibilities for Jones's character are infinite. But let's just pretend for a moment, that this movie will chart the exploits of a Rogue Leader and that Disney and Lucasfilm will make Star Wars fans squeal with joy by bringing a character from the old EU to the big screen. Just who are Jaina Solo and Anj Dahl?
In the old EU Jaina Solo is the daughter of Han and Leia, so I'll start out by saying that given we know both of her parents will feature in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it's unlikely the spawn of the Solos will star of Rogue One. That being said, Jaina Solo's character is the perfect prototype for a Rogue One movie; she's a force sensitive flying ace who at times treads dangerously close to the Dark Side. Jaina's flirtation with the Dark Side came when her brother, Anakin Solo, was killed in battle, but she ultimately went on to become a legendary Jedi, gaining the title of 'Sword of the Jedi' from her uncle, Luke Skywalker. Though it's incredibly unlikely we'll see her in Rogue One, it could just be that we see a character who is very much inspired by Jaina's innumerable exploits.
Anj Dahl came into play around 100 years after the original Star Wars trilogy concluded. As per all Rogue Leaders, Dahl was an incredibly talented pilot with a strong sense of what is right. But despite a strong moral compass, Dahl had a mischievous side, regularly playing pranks on her fellow Rogue Squadron pilots and always seeking the next source of fun with which to balance out the stresses of her job. Dahl's work hard play hard attitude was always entertaining, but she also had a strong sense of modesty which was incredibly endearing. It's unlikely that Dahl's appearances in Dark Horse's Star Wars Legacy comics will score her a named role in the new Star Wars cinematic universe, but like Jaina solo, this is a character who would make a fantastic blueprint for a leading movie role.
X-Wing Books (Credit: Del Rey)
(Credit: Del Rey)
The Rogue Squadron's exploits have been popular wherever they are portrayed, whether it be in the movies, comics or video games, but none of those aforementioned series has come close to matching the popularity of Michael Stackpole's X-Wing novels. Though there are 11 X-Wing titles in all, it was the original series of 4 novels, known as the Rogue Squadron series, that really captured fans' imaginations. Speak to any hardcore Star Wars fans and the chances are they'll go dreamy-eyed at the mention of the adventures of Wedge Antilles and his daring band of pilots. When Star Wars: Rogue One was announced, it was largely because of Stackpole's (and Aaron Allston's) X-Wing books that there was such a huge roar of excitement from various corners of Star Wars fandom. Throughout the series, both Allston and Stackpole were able to successfully portray a thrilling sci-fi adventure with the camaraderie and banter of a movie like Top Gun. It was the perfect combo, and if you haven't read any of the X-Wing novels, do so now and you'll see why so many people are convinced they'll make the great movies.
Just because everybody wants Rogue One to be a Rogue Squadron movie, that certainly doesn't mean that's what we'll get. In reality, the options for Rogue One's plot remain limitless, because..well, that's pretty much the whole reason Disney did away with the old Star Wars expanded universe. Starting fresh enabled Disney and LucasFilm to control their own destiny again, it allowed them to create new Star Wars tales without the burden of decades of character and story creation (and fan expectation) weighing them down. The fact remains that the careful wording in Bob Iger's statement gives us no indication that Rogue One will touch on the beloved characters and adventures described above:
"Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga." said Iger
One thing's for sure, though, the team Disney has assembled for this movie is already shaping up to be top-notch. Gareth Edwards is a talented director with brilliant ideas, while John Knoll has already more than proven his writing chops. If that's not enough to convince you, I'll leave you with these words....Felicity Jones!