Star Wars: Rogue One originally featured Jedi… and it would have sucked

It’s official – ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ dodged a bullet.

And no, it didn’t use a lightsaber to deflect it.

Thankfully, the only Jedi we know of was in hiding - Credit: Lucasfilm
Thankfully, the only Jedi we know of was in hiding – Credit: Lucasfilm

It’s no secret that ‘Rogue One’ takes us to a very different corner of the galaxy far, far away – where it’s all about the plight of the everyman to stand up against the Empire. But it looks as though it could have been very different… with the inclusion of the Jedi.

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During an interview for the new book ‘The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, scriptwriter Chris Weitz revealed that an early version of ‘Rogue One’ featured the Jedi… and that would have been a real shame.

“For a long time in the story, there were Jedi around, even if only in the background,” he revealed. “Jyn’s mother was a Jedi.”

Lyra Erso - Not quite a Jedi - Credit: Lucasfilm
Lyra Erso – Not quite a Jedi – Credit: Lucasfilm

Of course, that crept into ‘Rogue One’ in a very subtle way. Lyra Erso was definitely dedicated to the Force, and a strong believer in it… but she seemingly had no Force sensitivity herself.

“We thought that it would be more interesting to have a story without Force powers, without lightsabers,” he explained. “We could explore a period of broken faith, a galaxy without hope.”

As it stands, the closes we get to a Jedi is Donnie Yen’s character, Chirrut Îmwe.

Chirrut was born on the planet Jedha, and became a spiritual warrior-monk and Guardian of the Whills. Although clearly blind, he used spirituality and belief in the Force to overcome his disability… and kicked plenty of Stormtrooper ass in ‘Rogue One’.

Chirrut kicked ass, but not as a Jedi - Credit: Lucasfilm
Chirrut kicked ass, but not as a Jedi – Credit: Lucasfilm

Even then, he’s not quite the lightsaber-wielding Force-using badass that we’ve come to expect. There’s a little more subtlety to his character. Clearly, he’s on the fringes of the Force – presumably using its power to heighten his own senses in the absence of vision. But that’s not quite the same as being able to mind-control Stormtroopers and break open steel doors with a massive laser sword.

Sure, he’s got plenty of merits. He’s just not a Jedi… and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the Jedi. Ever since the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, I’ve been enthralled by the hokey religion that lets a young teenage farmhand become a kick-ass hero overnight. But there’s just no place for it in ‘Rogue One’.

Why do I say that? Well, the thing ‘Rogue One’ does best is show us the real cost of the ‘war’ in ‘Star Wars’. It’s very human, very relatable and the stakes (and costs) are high.

Sure, we’re still in the galaxy far, far away… but the galaxy has lost its faith in the Jedi. They’re long gone. And it’s all about the very real struggles of ordinary people to fight back against the Empire. Adding a Jedi into the mix would just take away from that.

“There’s despair because the Jedi are gone – and with them, for many, even the memory of the Force,” explained Weitz. “That meant our story could be about normal people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Of course, it’s not long after the events of ‘Rogue One; that the Jedi return.

And we’ve got the entire original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy to celebrate that.

But ‘Rogue One’ keeps the story where it needs to be – down and dirty with the real heroes of the Rebel Alliance. And it’s an absolute marvel for doing so.

‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ is in cinemas now.

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