It’s long been known that the original ending for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was completely scraped for the ending that we ended up seeing in the film. I was completely happy and satisfied with the ending where the whole team bites the dust, but in the alternate ending the plan was for Jyn and Cassian to live to fight another day.
In an interview with EW, co-writer Gary Whitta talked about coming up with the ending, saying:
“The original instinct was that they should all die. It’s worth it. If you’re going to give your life for anything, give your life for this, to destroy a weapon that going to kill you all anyway. That’s what we always wanted to do. But we never explored it because we were afraid that Disney might not let us do it, that Disney might think it’s too dark for a Star Wars movie or for their brand.”
After the original ending didn’t play out as smoothly as they would have liked, they finally decided to pitch the new ending where everyone dies. They went for it and they got the ending that the whole creative team wanted to do in the first place.
For those of you like myself who are curious to know how the original ending plays out in the story, EW and Whitta offer us the following details:
The Death Star emerges from hyperspace to lay waste to Scarif and protect the Empire’s secrets by destroying the special weapons facility along with the Rebel incursion.
But this time there was no last-second broadcast of the plans from a satellite tower. Jyn and Cassian were to escape the surface of the beach world carrying the data tapes.
“A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface,” Whitta says. “The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”
Darth Vader was still in pursuit and began attacking Jyn’s shuttle as the Rebels tried desperately to transfer the information from the data tapes to Leia’s vessel. Finally, Vader was successful in breaching their shields and destroying the craft.
The audience would have been left fearing the heroes were dead. But as Vader’s Star Destroyer ventures off to chase Leia’s Tantive IV, we would have remained focused on the shuttle fragments floating in the vastness of space.
“They got away in an escape pod just in time,” Whitta said. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”
This echoes a similar trick from The Empire Strikes Back, when Han Solo allows the Millennium Falcon to drift away from a Star Destroy disguised in a plume of garbage – unaware that also camouflaged in that detritus was Boba Fett’s Slave I.
It’s definitely an interesting way to take it, but I liked the ending the ended up giving us way better. No wonder Felicity Jones has a sequel film in her contract! If she would have lived, we may have seen another film featuring the character after these events. Whitta goes on to explain the issues with this ending and why it needed to be changed saying:
“The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult. We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif,] and that was the way it ended. We were constantly trying to make all the pieces fit together. We tried every single idea. Eventually, through endless development you get through an evolutionary process where the best version rises to the top.”
Director Gareth Edwards goes on to defend the ending with the whole Rogue One team dying. Not that it needs any defending because it was the right way to proceed with the ending, but he says:
“You have the darkness that’s in the undercurrent of the story at that point, but you still have the rightness of why they’re doing it. It doesn’t feel depressing. It feels like you want them to succeed at any cost. It’s a sport where the clock is ticking, and they need to just dive across the finish line. You do whatever you need to do to get there. It’s a gauntlet that they’re handing to Princess Leia. You get that moment where the crowd feels like it can cheer at the end.”
What do you all think of the original ending of Rogue One? Do you think they made the right decision to change it up?