How Michael Stackpole's 'Rogue Squadron' Novel Could Influence The Movie
What Do You Hope To See?
When anthology films set in the Star Wars universe were announced, the list of stories fans hoped would end up in theaters seemed to be as long as a Star Destroyer. After Rogue One and Solo, many called for movies centering around Obi-Wan Kenobi or Boba Fett. Among this wish list of stand-alone movies was a film delving into Rogue Squadron, the elite Rebel X-Wing fighter squadron first named in The Empire Strikes Back. The devotion to this squadron felt by the fanbase stems not only from the original trilogy films, where they were front and center for many of the most climactic dogfights, but also from the Nintendo 64 game of the same name as well as Michael Stackpole's thrilling series of novels following the squad post-Endor. After a recent re-read of the first novel, X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, I got to thinking about how this exceptional book series could influence Patty Jenkins' upcoming Rogue Squadron film, which is set to release December 22, 2023.
Rogue Squadron is in rarified air when it comes to factions of the Star Wars universe. Few military units have gotten the deep backstory and variety of characters in both Legends and canon material. For those unfamiliar, Rogue Squadron was founded by the surviving X-Wing pilots of the Battle of Yavin, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, Rogue Group quickly became one of the most highly decorated and dangerous fighter squadrons in the rebel military. Named in canon for Jyn Erso's group of fighters who stole the Death Star plans from Scarif, the Rogues were known for their daring, high-flying antics, and their short life expectancy. These hotshot pilots undertook missions that the rest of the rebellion deemed as "suicide." They would go on to cover the retreat at Hoth and assault the Death Star II over Endor. In Legends, after the end of the Galactic Civil War and the rise of the New Republic, as Luke began rebuilding the Jedi Order, Wedge Antilles took the reigns of the squadron. Commander Antilles recruited the most talented pilots from across the galaxy, including fellow Coreillian Corran Horn, his Gand wingmate Ooryl Qrygg, and the arrogant and bombastic Bror Jace.
Here is where we come to the first question regarding Jenkins upcoming film. When will it be set? Many have called for her to push past The Rise of Skywalker into the years post-Skywalker Saga. Will Rogue Squadron become a wing of peacekeepers, scouring the Unknown Regions for Sith Cultists or an otherwise unheard of threat? As someone who was not a fan of the Ssi-ruuk or Yuuzhan Vong as the new threat after the fall of the Empire, I find this proposition dubious. Bringing in a "previously unknown" threat who just happened to show up to be cannon fodder for the heroes never seemed to carry the same weight of threat posed by the Empire, Separatists, Sith, or litany of other villains encountered in Star Wars. Especially with a movie that seems to be fashioning itself as "Star Wars Top Gun," Rogue Squadron hardly seems to be the time or place to introduce a new Big Bad 40 years after the events of A New Hope. For my money, the ideal setting would be the same as Stackpole's stories, set shortly after the fall of the Empire. Certainly an argument can be made for expanding beyond the well worn road of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, but it seems borderline Star Wars heresy to name a movie Rogue Squadron and not have at least one TIE vaporized by Rebels.
While new and exciting characters are undoubtedly already in the works at Lucasfilm, getting set to hop into the cockpit of their X-Wing, there is more than one character from previous films and novels both who could very well make an appearance. The cornerstone of Rogue Squadron has, up until this point, always been Wedge Antilles. The legendary pilot who survived the Battle of Hoth as well as two Death Star runs is easily the best non-Force sensitive pilot in the rebellion (eat your heart out Solo). While Dennis Lawson is getting up there in years, he and his character are certainly still in the fight, as evidenced by his underwhelming, but still appreciated, cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. This may be the most convincing argument in favor of post-Rise setting for the film. The team-up of Lawson's Antilles and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron would be a boon to the next generation of X-Wing pilots, which will hopefully include at least Lieutenant Horn.
Written By Weston Erickson
Syndicated From Culture Slate