‘Star Wars’: How ‘Rogue One’ Connects to ‘A New Hope’

Spoilers ahead for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

As much as the Star Wars saga is beloved by generations and heralded as one of the most popular film franchises of all time, Lucasfilm still took a pretty sizable creative risk when it came to the series’ first standalone entry, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Though the film does offer a self-contained story, it very much ties into the existing mythology. In fact, it actually dovetails into George Lucas’ original vision in more ways than many fans were expecting. Here are some of the biggest ways Rogue One connects to the 1977 film that started it all, Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.

10. Cameos galore

Jimmy Smits in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith

Jimmy Smits in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith | Lucasfilm

Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso may lead a cast of new characters in Rogue One, but director Gareth Edwards was not shy about including some longtime fixtures of the series. Jimmy Smits reprises his role from the prequel trilogy as Bail Organa, setting the stage for his off-screen death in A New Hope. Of course, a certain princess (more on her later) is in the film, as are C-3PO and R2-D2 (the only characters to appear in every installment to date). Even Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba pop up!

9. Bridge from the prequels

Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith | Lucasfilm

Perhaps the best thing that Rogue One does for A New Hope is create a more palpable context. We’ll get into that in more detail shortly, but it offers a strong lead-in to the original film, helping to bridge the gap between the status quo of the prequels and where viewers find themselves during the opening crawl of A New Hope.

8. Imperial power struggle

Director Orson Krennic - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Ben Mendelsohn in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

Much like how A New Hope gave viewers a glimpse into the inner squabbles of Imperial officers and a certain Sith Lord, Rogue One shows Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) trying in vain to rise in the ranks, only to see his project taken over by Grand Moff Tarkin. Darth Vader himself squashes Krennic’s aspirations at one point, demonstrating his indelible Force choke.

7. One enraged Sith Lord

Darth Vader in Rogue One

Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest highlights of Rogue One was the emergence of Darth Vader’s wrath in perhaps the best example of the pure rage fans have always heard he was capable of delivering. In less than one minute, the scene cemented Vader’s status as the consummate on-screen badass, clarifying why he’s so hellbent on getting those pesky plans when A New Hope opens.

6. Implied sacrifice

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

Many have proclaimed that the original trilogy’s allusion that “many Bothans have died” to bring the Rebel Alliance critical information would be explored in Rogue One. In actuality, that statement refers to a plot point in Return of the Jedi. However, there is a real sense of sacrifice on the part of the rebellion that pervades A New Hope, and the deaths of essentially the entire cast of Rogue One finally gives it weight.

5. Red and Gold Leaders

AT-AT walkers in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

One of the coolest surprises in Rogue One is the fact that the film includes unused footage from A New Hope in its climactic battle, allowing actors Angus MacInnes and Drewe Henley to reprise their roles of Gold Leader Dutch Vander and Red Leader Garven Dreis, respectively.

4. A rebellion built on hope

Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope

Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: A New Hope | Lucasfilm

When A New Hope begins, we learn that Princess Leia Organa is on a secret mission to aid the Rebel Alliance in its efforts against the Galactic Empire. Rogue One gives us the story behind that mission, even going so far as to use a CGI model of the late Carrie Fisher to give Leia herself a cameo in the film’s final scene.

3. Keying up the Rebel mission

Felicity Jones in Rogue One | Lucasfilm

Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

In keeping with setting the stage for Leia’s mission, Rogue One also explains how the Alderaan princess got her hands on the Death Star plans in the first place. This makes the Rebel Alliance’s struggle more compelling as a result, adding dimension that previously felt like set dressing to Luke Skywalker’s story.

2. Tarkin resurrected

Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope

Peter Cushing in Star Wars: A New Hope | Lucasfilm

One of the most controversial aspects of Rogue One has been the use of motion-capture technology to bring the late Peter Cushing back as Grand Moff Tarkin. Some have said that the move is an unethical one, while others have praised it for adding to the throwback experience of the film. Regardless, it’s hard to deny that the addition of Tarkin is an impressive way to connect to A New Hope.

1. The Death Star’s weakness

Rogue One - Death Star

The Death Star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

The ultimate rationale for why Rogue One exists at all is that the film helps to smooth over one of the saga’s most egregious plot holes, namely why the Empire allowed such a blatant weakness to make its way into the design of the Death Star. With Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) having implanted it as a fail-safe to defeat the Empire, the story now holds together far more than it ever did before, improving A New Hope in the process.

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