The finale of Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” saw Darth Vader cutting through a swath of Rebel Alliance soldiers with his lightsaber on his hunt for the stolen Death Star plans. The film ends with a shot of a young Princess Leia about to send two droids off with said plans, but an early script treatment imagined a much darker conclusion.
Entertainment Weekly recently sat down with Garry Whitta, one of the earliest screenwriters for “Rogue One.” Whitta’s script would eventually go on to be revised by Chris Weitz and later Tony Gilroy, but the early draft imagined a conclusion in which the film’s primary antagonist Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) was slain by Darth Vader himself.
The two characters share an uneasy alliance in the film. While both are members of the Galactic Empire, advancement through the Imperial ranks has always been fueled by subversion. It’s clear Krennic, cunning as he may be, is always getting the short end of the stick in “Rogue One.” Wilhuff Tarkin steals credit for all the work he’s done on the Death Star, and — at one point — Vader Force-chokes him. Though he was left to die on Scarif in the theatrical cut of the film, Whitta’s version would have seen Krennic survive the un-survivable, only to be thrust into Vader’s vengeful clutches.
“He survived the blast and they pulled him up and brought him to the Star Destroyer to report to Vader,” Whitta recalled. “He’s all beat up, his cape’s all torn up and stuff, and he thinks he has survived.”
Unfortunately for Krennic, things are not always as they seem in the Galactic Empire. The Director of Advanced Weapons Research would have been Force-choked by Darth Vader for a second time, though this time for good. The film would have ended with Krennic’s realization that he had been betrayed as he choked to death.
“Vader kills him for his failure,” Whitta concluded.
In the end, the finale just didn’t work. Aside from the fact that Vader murdering a member of his own rank is supremely dark, especially for a “Star Wars” movie, there’s also a matter of how Krennic was able to survive a blast from his own planet-annihilating creation. According to Whitta, it was “a bit of a reach,” and that’s why it isn’t in the final cut of the film.
Directed by Gareth Edwards from a script by Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker and arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD April 4.