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The Gruesome Twosome

The Gruesome Twosome

**SPOILERS** for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The release of Rogue One has the world buzzing. The first ever live-action standalone Star Wars film has proved to be a hit. While the film doesn’t tie directly to the Skywalker Story that permeates the main saga films, it isn’t without some connections to those films. Most notably being Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. With the film’s obvious lead up to A New Hope it makes logical sense for these two baddies to have appeared. What Rogue One is able to accomplish, beyond giving us an impactful story about hope, is it fundamentally changes the way we now look at Darth Vader and Tarkin in A New Hope. Spoiler alert: I like it.

First things first: what ILM and the VFX crew was able to do to recreate Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin was nothing short of miraculous. That achievement alone is going to change the future of film-making.

Getting into the story and why Tarkin was needed in Rogue One can be answered just from viewing A New Hope. In the original Star Wars film, Tarkin was in charge of the Death Star. We had no idea why or how but he was the boss. One of the best things George accomplished was drop us in the middle of this story with little to no backstory and allowed our imaginations to take us the rest of the way. Since the Canon continuity and Legends shift we’ve begun to get more and more details about Tarkin and his involvement with the Death Star. In James Luceno’s novel Tarkin, the governor is in charge of an Outer Rim base tasked with monitoring supply acquisition for the Death Star. In Luceno’s latest novel Catalyst, which serves as an immediate prequel to Rogue One, Tarkin is shown at obvious ends with Director Krennic on who will be in control of the battle station. The events in Catalyst have important correlations to what happens in Rogue One as we see first hand the combative relationship between Tarkin and Krennic over the battle station.

On multiple occasions the conversations between the two get extremely heated. Tarkin’s ultimate goal is to undermine Krennic to the point where he falls so far out of favor with the Emperor that he would have no other choice than give Tarkin full control. With the help of the Rebel Alliance and the crew of Rogue One this does come to pass even with the dangers of the Rebel’s escaping with the plans to the Death Star. In A New Hope Tarkin is a confident and arrogant commander and after his machinations throughout Rogue One it’s obvious to see why he is in that position. Rogue One is able to do so much to add to Tarkin’s character that it completely changes how we look at him in relation to the rest of the saga.

Moving on to the elephant in the room, Darth Vader. If you were wondering why Vader is often referred to as the best movie villain of all time look no further than what he was in Rogue One. Vader featured in only two scenes in the film but they were arguably two of the most impactful scenes in the film. His first involves a conversation in his castle on Mustafar with Director Krennic. Yes, a castle on Mustafar. The ramifications of that alone says so much about him as a character. His scene with Krennic is extremely poignant as Vader still has yet to come around to the idea of the Death Star being a worthwhile endeavor and Krennic’s continued mishaps with the station cause nothing but problems for the Empire. Vader is no-nonsense and would just as much kill Krennic than have to deal with issues going on with the Death Star. He has other things on his mind. No wonder why he still doesn’t think much of the “technological terror you’ve constructed” in A New Hope.

Vader’s second and final scene in the film is what really changes his appearance in A New Hope. After the Rogue One crew beams the plans to the Death Star to the Rebel fleet and the Death Star fires on Scarif, Vader goes into action. In a sequence that is absolutely horrifying, we see Vader hacking and butchering his way through a group of Rebel soldiers as they desperately try to get the plans to Captain Antilles. We’ve never seen anything like this from Vader much less in any Star Wars film before.The inclusion of this scene shows just the kind of pure power Vader possesses and why he is so feared. It is truly jaw-dropping.

What really changes our perceptions of A New Hope here is just how blatant the lie Princess Leia tells Vader when he boards the Tantive IV, when she says she is on a “diplomatic mission to Alderaan.” Literally ten minutes earlier Vader was hunting down those plans while murdering soldiers left and right and he witnessed the ship launch into hyperspace. I was able to watch A New Hope last weekend and seeing the opening crawl and that opening sequence have so much more weight after Rogue One.

It’s pretty incredible how this film was able to just change our perceptions about another film that has been out for nearly forty years. I absolutely love what Rogue One was able to introduce into the greater Star Wars story and mythos even without directly featuring the main heroes we’ve always known.

Were you able to watch A New Hope after seeing Rogue One? Did anything that happened in the film with Tarkin and Darth Vader change at how you look at them now? Leave a comment below or send in an email!

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1 Comment

  1. Melinda
    December 28, 2016 at 07:56 Reply

    Fun read, Mike. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Tarkin’s and Vader’s inclusion in “Rogue One”. I thought they added a lot to the film … although I must admit that anything that happened in RO really doesn’t change how I look at “A New Hope”. However, I love how the end of “Rogue One” segues right into “A New Hope”. Wow!

    I thought it was incredible how the special effects crew went through the painstakingly time-consuming endeavor to include Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin in “Rogue One”. On one hand, I couldn’t see anyone else playing that role … but on the other hand, I would have accepted whoever stepped into that iconic role. Let’s face it — different actors/actresses play the same role often enough, and audiences accept that fact. Look at how many incarnations of Batman there have been over the decades. I, for one, would not like to see the industry “jump on the bandwagon” and over employ such executions of technology. I’d rather see what someone new can bring to a role. But that’s just me.

    Happy New Year!

    MTFBWY 🙂

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