Which paths through the galaxy weren’t taken? That’s a question Star Wars fans still have about Rogue One, and EW will be providing answers this week leading up to the movie’s digital debut on Friday. (It’s out on Blu-ray April 4.) Next up in our Rogue One Revelations series:
A bonus Vader scene – and his murder of a major character …
Tuesday’s subject is the much grimmer ending that almost faced another important character.
Darth Vader was always going to be used sparingly in Rogue One, but “spare” isn’t exactly in the Dark Lord’s personal lexicon.
In early drafts of the story, his merciless nature would have been highlighted not in a brutal lightsaber melee against a corridor full of Rebel soldiers, but in the cruel and unusual execution of a member of the Imperial high command.
“Vader is in the movie as much as he always was. He only had two things in the film. He was on Mustafar and then in the battle at the end,” says Gary Whitta, who wrote a version of the script that was then redrafted by Chris Weitz and later Tony Gilroy.
“The rampage where [Vader] murdered everybody wasn’t me. That got added later,” said Whitta, although he had considered a different battlefield confrontation between a large group of opponents and the Sith Lord. “I had pictured early on Vader murdering all these Rebel soldiers but I never wrote it into the script. It was an idea that stuck around after I left and they ended up finding a cool way to use it. It’s actually my favorite thing in the film.”
He did have a bonus Vader scene near the end that ended up being dropped from the storyline.
At the top of this post, you’ll see an exclusive featurette from the new in-home release of Rogue One, where Vader is literally and figuratively dusted off and brought back to life in the Star Wars universe.
But here’s how he would have ended a major character in an abandoned sequence considered for the film’s finale.
Picture this: the Death Star shows up on the horizon of Scarif and does the same partial blast that we see in the finished movie — scorching the surface of the tropical world and demolishing the Rebel uprising along with the Empire’s weapons facility.
Back in this version of the story, Jyn Erso and the character we came to know as Cassian Andor escaped with both the data tapes and their lives. The villain of the story, Director Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn) also survived the battle, although barely.
Instead of lying wounded on a transmission platform while the green beam of the Death Star literally incinerates him on its trajectory into the planet, Krennic found shelter from the blast. In what sounds like a type of epilogue to the story, we would have seen his rescue by Imperial forces.
“They tore him out of the rubble and they brought him back,” Whitta says. “When they’re going over the ruins, he somehow survived.”
If this seems unlikely … yeah. It really was. The writer had to concoct a reason that Krennic was able to find safety from the planet-punching laser and explain in reasonable terms how he could survive even the blistering aftermath. “It’s a bit of a reach,” Whitta says, “which is why it isn’t in the finished film.”
Had the filmmakers continued pursuing this storyline, Krennic would have been recovered along with presumably other valuable artifacts belonging to the Empire’s special weapons division.
“He survived the blast and they pulled him up and brought him to the Star Destroyer to report to Vader,” Whitta says. “He’s all beat up, his cape’s all torn up and stuff, and he thinks he has survived.”
Except this time, Vader isn’t just wielding deadly puns.
Krennic thinks he has endured. He thinks he has served valiantly for the Emperor. He thinks he has done everything right, everything within his power … right up until an unseen force squeezes off the air in his throat.
“Vader kills him for his failure,” Whitta says.
Check back to EW.com on Wednesday for Day Three of Rogue One Revelations week: An abandoned opening scene that would have tied directly into the prequels…
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released digitally this Friday and will be available April 4 on Blu-ray.