Why Star Wars: Rogue One Can't Possibly Live Up To The Hype

The Force Awakens has once again blown the lid off the Star Wars world, having surpassed the excitement, box office, and fan frenzy of the unspeakable prequels. And the franchise's new shepherd, Disney, isn't wasting any time basking in its success. Instead, the company is churning out anthology installments between the main story sequels, which means there's a new Star Wars-related movie scheduled for every year until 2019. But is the Force strong enough with these so-called "anthology" films—which are origin stories for the characters and plot lines from the original trilogy—or has the Dark Side already seduced Disney into just cranking these things out in a shameless grab for all of the nerd bucks?

And if you're already waving your money at this movie, check out what happens when a casual Star Wars fan reads Dark Empire to try to figure out what the Expanded Universe even is—and why Disney tossed it aside.

They're already marketing it

With a release date of December 16, 2016, the marketing for Rogue One is already in the works, with a trailer planned to air in front of Captain America: Civil War, another Disney property. Granted, the first The Force Awakens teaser hit over a year before the movie actually released, but that was the reinvigoration of the entire franchise. Rogue One is about the group that steals the plans for the Death Star that the Rebel Alliance eventually uses to destroy it. That's like an entire movie based on the labor dispute Casey Affleck's character organizes in that Mexican dice factory in Ocean's Thirteen instead of that just being a funny subplot. So, on second thought, go ahead and market this movie for a year, Disney. You might actually need it to generate enough buzz.

Its box office won't get close to The Force Awakens

While The Force Awakens is probably going to single-handedly recoup Disney's $4 billion investment in the franchise once the receipts for the international box office, merchandising, and licensing are tallied, that's not to say the Mouse is done milking cash from this cow. That's why we can probably expect smaller budgets and lower scales on all of the anthology films. That translates to smaller box office returns, which invariably points to lower success. Of course, the diehards and fanboys are going to flock to Rogue One with the same level of anticipation they exude for the release of each new Lego set. But, the general public might take a look at this and see that the fanfare and record-shattering numbers usually associated with anything Star Wars aren't there, which could spell trouble for these spin-off flicks.

The coolest Star Wars stuff won't be in it

If we get to see any Jedi, lightsabers, or use of the Force at all in Rogue One, it's probably going to be in brief cameos or slick nods. Remember, this is about some rebels breaking into the blueprint room at the Death Star architect's office. But there's a good chance Darth Vader will be in it, so that's a definite plus. As for Han Solo's quips, Chewy's roar, Leia holograms, R2D2, Luke, Yoda, and everything else from the Star Wars universe that general audiences love, don't worry. We're sure a few of those will be peppered into what ultimately might just be some sort of interstellar stakeout where rebel pilots wait in their X-Wings for hours until the Stormtrooper guarding the file cabinets goes for a cigarette. 

Just more X-Wing battles

Speaking of X-Wings, The Force Awakens was full of them. The filmmakers even made it a point to throw some shade at them when Poe Dameron jumps into a TIE Fighter for the first time and remarks how he's been dying to fly one instead of his usual X-Wing. So, what, do X-Wings suck now? Either way, we've seen X-Wings battle in space, in forests, on ice planets, in deserts, over water, and in canyons. And what's crazy is that we were only ever made to care about what the X-Wings were doing when Luke was piloting one, using the Force to basically make him impervious to getting unceremoniously blasted out of the sky like almost everyone else around him. So, this time around, we're following the pilots who were previously just cannon fodder and collateral damage used to get our hero to the goal line. Imagine you're watching the Super Bowl and the first kickoff is sailing through the air and suddenly they cut to the sideline and the camera stays there for the rest of the game. That's what the plot of Rogue One sounds like it's going to be.

The director of 2014's Godzilla is in charge

The hiring trend for directors of these new Star Wars films has been to look to young guns with successful sci-fi cred under their belt. J.J. Abrams started out strong. Fans also have plenty of confidence for Looper-director Rian Johnson's Episode VIII. So a significant amount of pressure lands on Gareth Edwards' shoulders for Rogue One to perform. This will only be Edwards' third time in the director's chair and second time with any kind of budget after his big break with 2014's Godzilla. So, the guy whose only expectation from his first big job was, "Don't do whatever that crap was with Matthew Broderick," got handed a Star Wars film. Granted, his Godzilla reboot was pretty badass, but he doesn't have a radioactive lizard the size of the Chrysler Building to unleash in this movie (probably). But we'll remain cautiously optimistic as long as he doesn't give us Bryan Cranston for 20 minutes and then crush him with scaffolding. That was a cruel tease. 

We already know the ending

Drama is built on anticipation of the unknown, emotional investment in the characters, and the level of the stakes involved in the event of failure. With Rogue One, we already know our heroes succeed, because the plans they're attempting to steal are the ones used in the original Star Wars to destroy the Death Star. We're almost positive that none of the characters in Rogue One are the key players in the main Star Wars saga, despite constant rumors that Felicity Jones is Leia, which is about as reliable a rumor as Kylo Ren being Luke Skywalker at this point. So in other words, who are these people, and why should we care? No beloved character could possibly die, the Rebels have to win to make sense for continuity, and as we've seen in seven other Star Wars movies, huge numbers of Rebel Alliance soldiers can die with little to no consequence to the main story. Rogue One is going to have to either be high octane action, continuously funny, or a Guardians of the Galaxy-level combination of both to make it seem like anything more than a placeholder for Episode VIII.

Ever wonder what happens in the Star Wars universe between sequels? Well, those stories appear in the Expanded Universe, and I—under the guidance of a savvy friend—decided to wade into those deep, nerdy waters by reading Dark Empire. Here's how that worked out for us.