The trailer for the new Star Wars movie Rogue One is out, and I gather it has caused a lot of fuss, both the happy clamour of excited fans and (apparently) the gnashing of teeth by people who are (for very stupid reasons that I’m not getting into here) Very Upset by what they’ve seen. There’s probably a lot of indifferent people in the middle of those extremes as well.
Since I was roughly the last sapient being known to science to give my thoughts on The Force Awakens, I thought I would do a snap reaction to the Rogue One trailer. I may or may not be procrastinating doing something else. Hush.
What I think is this – there’s not a lot of meat on the bones but it looks pretty cool. I mean there’s AT-ATs and stormtroopers getting beaten up with a stick (does that armour, in fact, protect them from anything at all?) and Mon Mothma and what looks to be a good heaping helping of Star Wars action. Which should be fun, although as Phantom Menace taught me, best not to get too excited yet. Heck, there have been plenty of bad movies with good looking trailers.
The main thing that I feel like I can say something more meaningful about is our main character, Jyn Erso. She seems like she’s going to be pretty interesting. They’re at least sowing the seeds that she may be a less than lily-white character who may not be perfectly idealistically aligned with the Rebellion and is closer to being an actual criminal.
Obviously this sets up a fairly standard SFF (and, well, other genres too) redemption story arc for the character with A Troubled Past, and if I was placing any bets that would be where my money would go. On the other hand, it would be potentially interesting to have the main character of Rogue One be genuinely a difficult person with some shady parts to their past and personality.
For one thing, her line ‘This is a rebellion, isn’t it?’ from the trailer works well with this; if you were really running a shoestring revolt against an overwhelming power, you wouldn’t really get to pick and choose who all the people you’d need to work with would be. You’d probably end up having to make some difficult choices and difficult alliances if you wanted to accomplish your overall goal, and maybe end up wondering exactly how far you could go in that direction without ending up badly compromised. That might be intriguing territory for a Star Wars movie to look at, and it would be easier to do with one that doesn’t have all our thoroughly heroic heroes in it.
Because look, most of the Star Wars heroes and heroines are more or less thoroughly good people (and don’t give me any crap about Han Solo, I’m not even sure he gets ‘redeemed’ as much as stops pretending that he’s not a huge softie) and it would be interesting to have one who might honestly not be. Maybe Jyn Erso is thoroughly competent, very good at what she’s asked to do, but also kind of an unprincipled jerk. (Again, no, that’s not Han Solo.) That would be a neat, and unique, addition to the Star Wars pantheon.
This all sits a bit uneasily with my feeling that one of the things I like about Star Wars is that you have Good vs. Evil and not a lot of the shades of grey stuff that is immensely popular at the moment. (Look if you’re waiting for me to adopt entirely consistent positions on things, you’re gonna be waiting a while) I think there’s room to still do that and still tell a story that would still be Star Wars – Good vs. Evil. I think it is worthwhile recognizing that in the pursuit of good goals, sometimes things happen that are less than good. I think it’s definitely worth recognizing that even people who do very good things are unlikely to be perfect. Even if we decide, ‘yes, this is a good person’ in the end, there are probably some parts of them that are less than ideal. Except Galahad, and Galahad is no fun.
Now again, I don’t think that’s actually what we’re gonna get and what will happen is we’ll get a movie about Jyn who comes from a rough background and doesn’t trust anyone and looks out only for herself learning to be a part of a team and commit to a cause that’s larger than she is in that fairly standard Becoming a Hero way, and that will probably be a perfectly entertaining movie. It would just be a little more interesting, to me, if we got a character who (say) doesn’t like the Empire, but also doesn’t really like this whole Republic thing either, because governments in general can’t be trusted or just rip you off, but she’ll work with the Rebels for now because they’re helping her blow up Imperial stuff.
Anyway. Those are my quick-draw thoughts. December seems a long way off, although I’m sure we’ll get lots more teasers tossed our way before then.