SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” in theaters now.
If you’ve seen “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” then odds are you felt a strong urge to watch the original 1977 “Star Wars” film immediately after that final scene. No surprise there, as “Rogue One” completely changes the way “A New Hope” plays out by showing us all of the insane action that immediately preceded the first “Star Wars” film. We now know the names and faces of the Rebel soldiers that stole the Death Star plans, and we know how they ended up in Princess Leia Organa’s hands — literally. If you thought that the finale of 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith” synced up nicely with “A New Hope” with it’s concluding scene on the Tantive IV, then “Rogue One’s” final moments on that same ship probably blew your mind.
So what changes when you rewatch “A New Hope” having just seen “Rogue One”? Plenty. If you’ve seen the latest Star Wars film and haven’t followed it up with another viewing of “Episode IV,” do yourself a favor and make that happen. As we’re about to explain, it’s a whole new experience.
10. The opening crawl resonates
“A New Hope” is a changed experience right from the opening crawl. Unless you’re actively thinking about this text while watching “Rogue One,” you’ll be surprised at how well it syncs up. This text is how viewers were first thrown into “Star Wars” back in 1977, and it resonates even more now. Here’s the text:
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….
“Rogue One” serves as the opening salvo in the civil war between the Empire and the Rebellion. The assault on the Imperial outpost on Scarif was the Rebellion’s first major battle. While the alliance lost a ton of soldiers in that battle, they did score a victory against the Empire — one that included the destruction of two Star Destroyers and the broadcast of the Death Star plans. The phrase “Rebel spies” now has resonance, because we know that phrase now refers to Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and K-2SO — three rebels that went undercover in the outpost. And the last block of text introduces Princess Leia into the mythology, a character that we literally just saw in the final shot of “Rogue One.”
9. “A New Hope’s” title has a new meaning.
Throughout “Rogue One,” characters state that rebellions are built on hope. It’s what Cassian Andor tells a disbelieving Jyn Erso, and it’s later what Erso says to rally a small faction of Rebel troops to her cause. That word is echoed again in the very last scene of the film, after Leia is handed the Death Star plans. A Rebel officer asks Leia Organa what they’ve been given, and Leia tells him that the Rebellion has been given hope. The Death Star plans symbolize the hope the Rebellion has following a costly battle, hope that they can win the war.
This totally reframes the name of “Star Wars: Episode IV.” For decades, fans have assumed that the titular hope in the film was Ben Kenobi, who Leia calls her “only hope,” or Luke Skywalker. In the film, the son of Anakin Skywalker decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Jedi; unlike his father, there’s a new hope that he won’t succumb to the Dark Side and will be able to redeem his father’s legacy and save the galaxy from the Empire. The “new hope” was always assumed to be Luke.
The “new hope” can still be Luke, sure, but it now has another meaning. Leia’s final line in “Rogue One” is referring specifically to the Death Star plans and the hope they bring to the Rebellion. Considering the fact that “A New Hope” begins with Leia planting those plans into Artoo and ends with the destruction of the Death Star, it makes sense that the film’s title would directly refer to a major part of the film.
8. The Tantive IV crew is beyond stressed.
The first ship you see in “Star Wars” is the Tantive IV, the corvette cruiser and Leia Organa’s consular ship, as it flees from a massive Imperial Star Destroyer. When the film cuts to inside the Tantive IV, you see Rebel officers running frantically — obviously because they’re being chased by a Star Destroyer. But before “Rogue One,” we didn’t really have an idea of the context for all that hubbub. Were they previously flying through space, minding their own business, perhaps on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan, before suddenly being chased by the Empire? We now know that no, the crew of the Tantive IV has probably been terrified and running around frantically for the entire brief period of time in-between “Rogue One” and “A New Hope.” They know the Empire knows they have the plans, and they know they’re being chased. They’re also coming off a major space battle, one that saw a lot of loss of life. When the stormtroopers board the Tantive IV, they’re facing off against Rebels whose adrenaline has been pumping for a good long while.
7. Vader is at a 10 for good reason.
In the last moments of “Rogue One,” Darth Vader boards a Rebel flagship and just goes to town on a squad of Rebel fighters. He uses the Force to throw, choke and crush a dozen soldiers all in his quest to secure the stole Death Star plans. He fails, just barely, and the Tantive IV undocks and flies away. We see Vader see this happen, too; he watches the ship fly away, and he knows the plans are on board.
Now when you watch “A New Hope,” you understand why Vader isn’t messing around when he boards the Tantive IV. Off screen, he orders his stormtroopers to blast open the door and kill everyone in sight — and they do. He then enters the ship amidst a cloud of smoke, Rebel bodies littering his path. The next time we see him, he’s just straight up choking the ship’s captain to death. He’s immediately accusatory, asking about the transmissions he knows they intercepted. In 1977, this made Vader seem merciless and downright evil; it still reads that exact way in 2016, but this time you know exactly why Vader’s at a 10 on the anger scale. He’s at a 10 not only because he knows the plans are on board, he’s at a 10 because he knows they’re on board and he literally watched the ship get away. Now when he barks an order to tear the ship apart, you have an even better understanding of why he’s so intense.
6. The gaslighting of Darth Vader
On that same point, we now know that everyone on the Tantive IV has agreed to feed Vader the exact same story to make him — hopefully? — question his own point of view. Both Captain Antilles and Princess Leia tell Vader to his face-mask that they are a consular ship on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan. The Rebels are keeping their story straight. Vader, on the other hand, isn’t having any of it (remember, he’s at a 10): “If this is a consular ship, then where is the ambassador?!”
Prior to “Rogue One’s” release, we weren’t really sure what Vader knew. Did he board the Tantive IV assuming they had the plans? Was Leia also on a diplomatic mission? Who was really lying? The opening text points out that Leia has the plans, but it didn’t let us know what information Vader was working with when he boarded the ship. Now this entire sequence plays out with more clarity: the Tantive IV was at Scarif, Vader literally saw Rebel soldiers physically hand the plans off, and Vader watched the ship fly away. And despite all that, every Rebel officer is holding fast to their “we’re on a diplomatic mission” cover story. It actually makes Leia seem even braver knowing that she knows that Vader knows the truth, yet she sticks to their defiant plan.
5. Princess Leia is having the worst day.
When you first see Leia Organa in “Star Wars,” she’s cloaked in white, crouched down as she installs the Death Star plans in Artoo. The next time we see her, she’s standing tall and defiant against the imposing Darth Vader. You know right away that Leia is made of steel. “Rogue One” just reinforces that idea, making Leia seem somehow even stronger. We now know that Leia just survived the Battle of Scarif, watching as countless allies exploded in the space around her ship. We know that she immediately went on the run from Darth Vader himself, and their first meeting in “A New Hope” no doubt comes after a frenetic chase. Then “A New Hope” kicks off and she gets tortured by the Empire and watches her home planet get blown up. Leia has no time to stop and rest — and the first chance she gets, she spends comforting a farm boy moping about the death of a space wizard that he just met.
4. Threepio legitimately has no idea what’s going on.
For a protocol droid C-3PO is surprisingly dense when it comes to subtext and social cues. It’s no surprise that people just wouldn’t tell Threepio what’s going on at times. The guy never shuts up! In his brief cameo in “Rogue One,” we see Threepio turn to Artoo with surprise and say that he didn’t know the Rebellion was flying to Scarif. Surprise, Threepio, you’re going to Sarif too! We know from the opening of “A New Hope” that R2-D2 and C-3PO are both on the Tantive IV, meaning they also survived the battle above Scarif and the frenetic Imperial chase that followed.
Later in “A New Hope,” Threepio offhandedly mentions the Rebellion and tells his excited owner that “That’s how we came to be in your service.” When Luke asks Threepio if they’ve seen many battles, the protocol droid replies, “Several, I think. Actually there’s not much to tell.” There’s plenty to tell, but not from Threepio’s point of view. You get the impression now that Threepio was on board the Tantive IV, completely unaware of the battle unfolding around him; after all, the consular ship was docked in the Rebel flagship and not actually engaged in the firefight. Threepio’s “not much to tell” line is totally true…from a certain point of view.
3. The Death Star’s design flaw was intentional.
Ever since “Star Wars” was first released, fans have lovingly rolled their eyes at the Death Star having an exhaust port connected directly to the space station’s main reactor. The fact that one small starfighter’s proton torpedoes could destroy the massive planet-killer seemed like a bit of a stretch. Of course “A New Hope” tried to sell the design flaw as an impossible target; it was only two meters wide and protected against laser blasts (but not torpedoes). The Death Star’s weakness was sold as part of the Empire’s hubris and their belief that one small ship could never pose a threat.
“Rogue One” establishes that the Death Star’s flaw was intentional, built into it by weapons designer Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen). Galen defected from the Empire, only to be forced back on board by Director Orson Krennic — at the cost of his wife’s life. But Galen went along with the plan, knowing that the Empire would build a Death Star with or without him. If the Empire trusted Galen, though, he knew he’d be able to build it with a flaw that would easily destroy it; Galen couldn’t trust any other weapons engineer to take that risk. “Rogue One” kicks off when Galen alerts the Rebels — via a defecting Imperial pilot named Bodhi Rook — to the space station’s existence and it’s flaw. Galen’s long lost daughter Jyn eventually comes across a holographic message from Galen essentially explaining the flaw to her in the very words used by General Jan Dodonna in “A New Hope.” The Death Star’s unlikely flaw was intentional.
2. Luke Skywalker seems even goofier.
“Rogue One” stars a ragtag crew of Rebels that do not mess around. Jyn Erso is a street fighter and expert in hand-to-hand combat. Cassian Andor just shoots people that get in the Rebellion’s way. K-2SO is a straight-talking ex-Imperial droid that loves pounding people on the head. Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe are specially trained warriors, and Bodhi Rook is a frazzled Imperial defector. You spend two hours with these rough around the edges leads — and then you meet 19-year-old Luke Skywalker, a kid that just wants to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters. Luke’s a great character and embarks on a transformative journey over the course of the original trilogy; after all, he’s the entry point character and he grows as the story progresses. But it’s still a bit jarring going from the rough and tumble “Rogue One” cast to following a plucky and kinda whiny teenager as he stumbles into the Rebellion and finishes the ob of blowing up the Death Star. By contrast, Princess Leia fits right in with the “Rogue One” cast. The way she stands up to Vader and Tarkin and the maturity she conveys makes her feel right in line with the no-nonsense Rebels we just saw in “Rogue One.”
1. Ponda Baba and Doctor Evazan are having a crazy day.
A pair of spice smugglers originally seen in the cantina scene in “A New Hope,” these two misfits also pop up on the crowded streets of Jedha when they bump into Jyn Erso. They try to pick a fight with her, but they move on before things can get serious. These two must have bumped into Jyn on their way off-world, as the capital city of Jedha was annihilated by the Death Star just a few hours after their scuffle. Ponda and Evazan must have been so relieved to learn that they got out of Jedha just in time — so relieved that they wanted to get trashed in a cantina on Tatooine!
We next see the duo in “A New Hope” hanging out at the Mos Eisley cantina, where they get a little — okay, a lot — too close to Luke Skywalker. Baba shoves Luke because he “doesn’t like” him, and Evazan backs him up and says he doesn’t like Luke either. Unfortunately Luke has a Jedi backing him up, and Obi-Wan Kenobi slices off Ponda Baba’s arm and into Doctor Evazan’s chest to keep them away from Luke. They survived the total destruction of Jedha, but couldn’t make it through happy hour in Mos Eisley.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is now playing in theaters.
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