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The first-ever Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One, is a standalone movie that — uniquely — features not even a trace of the Jedi! There are no lightsaber duels and, with the exception of Darth Vader's rampage at the end of the film, you don't see explicit Force-usage, and the idea of the Light Side and the Dark Side isn't even touched upon.

Now, thanks to Abrams's book The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we know that wasn't always the case!

Jyn's Mother, Lyra, Was Almost A Jedi!

A young Jyn Erso watches her mother's death in 'Rogue One'. [Credit: Lucasfilm]
A young Jyn Erso watches her mother's death in 'Rogue One'. [Credit: Lucasfilm]

Screenwriter Chris Weitz revealed that the Jedi were originally planned to be in the background and that, in early versions of Rogue One, Jyn's mother, Lyra Erso, was actually a Jedi. This is a pretty major departure from the finished film, but it would have thrown some uncomfortable wrinkles into the canon.

First of all, remember that — because Jyn is in her twenties — the relationship between Lyra and Galen had to have begun during the Prequel Trilogy (it's no coincidence that the official prelude novel, Catalyst, starts off well before the fall of the Empire). As fans of #StarWars know all too well, the Old Jedi Order prohibited marriage; one of the key problems for Anakin Skywalker was that his relationship with Padme Amidala was forbidden.

Secondly, though, this would mean that Lyra Erso survived Order 66, Palpatine's order to kill the Jedi. We know that other Jedi escaped; we're seeing the adventures of Kanan in #StarWarsRebels. But the more Jedi who survive the purge and continue to play a part in galactic history, the less significant Luke Skywalker becomes. Far from being the first beacon of light in a dark galaxy, he becomes just one of many Light Siders who are still fighting for good.

Why did Lucasfilm Change Their Minds?

Jyn Erso in 'Rogue One'. [Credit: Lucasfilm]
Jyn Erso in 'Rogue One'. [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In the end, Lucasfilm took a different direction. As Weitz explained:

"We thought that it would be more interesting to have a story without Force powers, without lightsabers. We could explore a period of broken faith, a galaxy without hope... There's despair because the Jedi are gone - and with them, for many, even the memory of the Force. That meant our story could be about normal people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps."

Instead of the overt Jedi/Sith dichotomy, Rogue One presents an intriguing world of spiritualism and mysticism. The Jedi might be gone, but faith in the Force remains; a fact that's most visible when Lyra tells Jyn to "trust the Force." What's more, in the character of Chirrut Imwe the movie introduces us to a whole new branch of Force-based superstition: the Guardians of the Whills.

Chirrut in 'Rogue One'. [Credit: Lucasfilm]
Chirrut in 'Rogue One'. [Credit: Lucasfilm]

There are subtle hints that Jyn herself may be Force-sensitive though (and indeed, the prelude novel Catalyst hints that her mother possessed wisdom and insight that the Jedi would find most intriguing). My fellow Creator Katie wrote a fascinating piece honing in on one specific moment in Rogue One, which just might be a gentle nod to Jyn's Force-potential. But if Jyn is Force-sensitive, it's done in such a subtle way as to make it almost unnoticeable. Personally, I think that's a wiser course.

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In the end, then, it's pretty clear that Rogue One changed massively as different versions of the scripts were prepared. The Jedi, who were originally a pretty major element in the film, faded out of sight completely; instead, we got the adventures of Jyn Erso, a normal human who became a key player in the Rebellion. Instead of seeing the Jedi struggling to make a difference, we saw that ordinary men and women still have the potential to rail against the Dark. And, by choosing this course, we truly come to see Luke Skywalker as a new hope for our beloved galaxy far, far away.

Poll

Do you think there should have been Jedi in 'Rogue One'?

(Source: ComicBook.com, Poll Image Credit: Disney)