The highly anticipated film Rogue One, coming out in December 2016, released a 2nd trailer on August 11. The end of the trailer interestingly reflects what the film needs to adopt: a heroic rise of the Rebels being completely quieted by the Emperor’s servants. There are 3 reasons the film should conclude in a similar darkness, with Lord Vader and his warriors killing all those who oppose them:
Rogue One could make itself unique among the rest of the Star Wars films by ending the protagonists’ stories with death at the hands of their enemies. The majority of other characters—from Leia Organa to Anakin Skywalker—finished the Original Trilogy with success and happiness, and even The Force Awakens had most of its heroes survive. If the majority of the heroes in Rogue One were murdered, however, this unique ending would fully illustrate the personal level of destruction that the Empire creates. The most vivid consequence of siding with the Rebellion in the Star Wars films so far is the destruction of Alderaan—but while this genocide is awful and enormous, it still doesn’t offer an up-close view of the gall necessary for the Rebels to do what they do.
We already have a taste of the pains some rebels undergo from the 2nd trailer of Rogue One—Baze Malbus explains to someone that “our home” was destroyed—but we could easily get a more complete view of these horrors. If Vader found Jyn Erso’s squadron at the end of the film, perhaps immediately after they transmit the plans to Princess Leia, and if he were to kill them all, the audience would finally get a disillusioning image of what it means to fight the Imperials. No longer could we hold a romanticized vision of Luke, Han and Leia being the unblemished face of the Rebellion, holding off the Empire forever. While their journeys are powerful and varied, all of their stories ended successfully with the Original Trilogy—and these victorious voyages are unfair representations of the experiences of many in the Rebellion. Getting up-close and personal with an entire squadron that is martyred will offer the audience a unique perspective on the true sacrifice required of countless Rebels.
The Empire tends to get a bad rap on the effectiveness of its military. Whether it’s videos showing aimless stormtroopers or a blog post exploring the bad reputation the Empire’s footsoldiers have, we’ve seen the government’s mistakes be a subject of mild ridicule. And the films themselves only show the exploitation of similar weaknesses: the Empire’s overconfidence in both of its Death Stars, in Admiral Ozzel’s attack on Hoth, and in Lord Vader all lead to eventual downfalls. But because we don’t see the reasons for all of this overconfidence, because the Empire only has a few successful strikes against the Rebellion, we can’t appreciate just how strong this faction really was.
Rogue One has a perfect opportunity to show that strength. If the Empire was to decimate all the saboteurs in Rogue One, even after the Death Star plans were transmitted, we’d be able to see on a visceral level just how competent the Imperials really are. We get a glimpse of this strength when the Empire overruns the trenches on Hoth and when it starts gaining ground on the Ewoks on Endor, but the sense of awe and desperation we see in these scenes fade once the heroes escape or conquer danger. Han Solo’s carbon freeze also creates feelings of desolation and hopelessness, but even that scene’s fearmongering dissipates because the rest of the heroes—Luke, Leia, and Lando—are all able to escape Vader by the end of the film. However, Rogue One has the chance to capitalize on the terrifying reactions of doomed protagonists by having the Empire eliminate a highly trained squadron—consequently displaying the feelings of horror, pain, and ultimate defeat the heroes must undergo, so that we truly understand how the Empire has the power to utterly destroy Rebels and foster so much confidence in itself.
Finally, the destruction of the protagonists in Rogue One will fulfil some of Anakin Skywalker’s expectations and beliefs. In Revenge of the Sith, he explains how he joined Palpatine and “brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to [his] new Empire.” In Return of the Jedi, he explains how Luke doesn’t “know the power of the dark side.” And while Vader undoubtedly has his own moments of strength and dominance, his reasons for staying with an Empire that’s supposed to have security and power would be more sound and sensible if we were given a moment where he is undoubtedly the ally of the greatest power in the galaxy and the master of whatever situation he steps into.
Again, if the Empire were to slay all those who oppose it, this would show the Empire’s strength—and that would resultantly bolster the explanation for Vader’s loyalty. However, it would also show how Vader himself has grown to be a true master of power. In Rogue One, if he were to learn that the Rebels transmitted the Death Star plans, and his only goal became destroying those who had sabotaged his Empire, then upon killing each and every hero that stood against him, Vader would give the audience something rarely witnessed—Vader completing a goal for the Empire. The audience has only seen his failures at the end of each film, whether it be when he attempts to eliminate all the Jedi, or remove Obi Wan Kenobi as a threat, or stop the destruction of the Death Star, or eradicate the Rebels on Hoth, or use Han Solo’s capture to convert Luke, or get Luke to join his side on Endor. If we were to finally view Vader’s successful elimination of the threats in Rogue One, and see the pride he takes in doing so, we may get an explanatory glimpse into how Anakin Skywalker was fully convinced of his authority and place in the galaxy—and we may finally see the raw, unlimited power that Darth Vader so desperately desired to wield.