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Star Wars 101: What’s the Deal With Rogue Squadron and Star Wars: Rogue One?

Star Wars Rogue Squadron Pilots

After reading our introduction, maybe you’ve had a chance to dip your toe into the Star Wars Legends EU. Even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard about this other Star Wars movie that’s coming outmaybe while reading the comments section, maybe while watching the Force Awakens trailer for the fourth or fifth time.

Well, put on your flight suit and strap in, because today, we’re going to look at the Rogue Squadron phenomenon, and its possible connections to the first Star Wars Anthology film, Rogue One.

What is Rogue One?

Rogue One is a Star Wars spin-off scheduled for release in 2016. According to the official summary, Rogue One focuses on a group of rebels who stole the plans for the first Death Star—i.e. the event that kicked off the original films. Rogue One is directed by Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards, and stars Felicity Jones, the Oscar-nominated actress from Everything is Illuminated.

Why are people freaking out about it?

Remember when we talked about the new sandbox that Lucasfilm created by setting the old continuity, now called the Legends EU, aside? Rogue One is the first real glimpse into the specifics of that new universe. As far as continuity is concerned, Rogue One features brand new (or new incarnations of old) characters, and tells a brand new story.

Still, there’s a link to the past. The characters and the title of the movie suggest a connection to a piece of the old Legends EU, Rogue Squadron.

Rogue Squadron? That sounds familiar.

In the Star Wars films, Rogue Squadron is the evolution of Red Squadron, aka all those guys who died blowing up the first Death Star (“Red Five standing by.”). In the Legends EU, the remaining members of Red Squadron—Luke Skywalker and fan-favorite character Wedge Antilles—come together to form Rogue Squadron.

The call sign “Rogue” is first used at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back, during the Battle of Hoth. In Empire Strikes Back, Rogue Squadron flew triangular, land-based ships called snowspeeders, but the craft that they’re most commonly associated with is the X-wing.  After Luke ran off to Dagobah (Yoda’s planet), Wedge took over as Rogue Squadron leader. Soon, he became a legend among fans.

Why do people love Wedge Antilles so much?

If you’ve seen Band of Brothers (and if you haven’t, you should), he’s sort of like Dick Winters: he’s a remarkable pilot, a good friend, a fantastic strategist, and he has the innate ability to inspire his troops to follow him to the end of the galaxy. And yet, somehow, Wedge never falls into that boring, “too much of a boyscout” trap that often dooms these types of characters.

Fun fact: Wedge is also from the planet Corellia, just like Han Solo. Based on its reputation for corrupt bureaucracy and the number of smugglers who hail from the planet, I like to think of Corellia as the Star Wars Universe’s prohibition-era Chicago.

Wait. Why do I care about Rogue Squadron again?

Rogue Squadron pilots are like Navy Seals who also fly fighter jets. They are the best of the best. Unlike other starfighter units, Rogue Squadron has no standing orders. It goes where it’s needed, and takes care of the jobs that no one else wants to do. In most of Rogue Squadron’s missions, the members act like spies in addition to fighter pilots.

At one point, all Rogue Squadron pilots resign from their posts (going rogue, if you will) and fight an unsanctioned mini-war, simply because it’s the right thing to do. That act of rebellion endeared Rogue Squadron to the people of the galaxy, and cemented its place in fans’ hearts.

Story-wise, Rogue Squadron provides a different point of view into the Star Wars universe, and (mostly) stays away from the ongoing Jedi drama. These are the everyday men, women, and aliens fighting in the skies and on the ground and kicking butt.

Are you sure that Rogue One and Rogue Squadron are related?

We don’t know for certain that Rogue One will involve Rogue Squadron’s precursors, but the title can’t be a coincidence. My guess is that Rogue One is our first chance to see a Jedi-less (or Jedi-lite) Star Wars story on the big screen, showcasing the best soldiers that the Rebellion has to offer. Since Rogue One is also the first film that won’t revolve around the Skywalker clan, the film will be Lucasfilm’s first chance to establish a Marvel-style expansion of the Star Wars universe.

This sounds cool! Where do I go for more Rogue Squadron?

Michael A. Stackpole is the name to remember, as he created the Rogue Squadron comics and book series that most fans know and love. Along with Timothy Zahn, Stackpole is considered one of the most influential—and best—authors of the Legends EU. Stackpole also created a character named Corran Horn, who became quite a big deal in his own right.

Stackpole’s comic series is called X-Wing: Rogue Squadron and ran for 35 issues. If you can, start with his X-Wing novels, the first installment of which is also called X-Wing: Rogue Squadron.

If you’re more interested in jumping into the cockpit of an X-wing yourself, there are three video games revolving around Rogue Squadron. Unfortunately, you’ll need a Nintendo 64 or a Nintendo GameCube to play them.

The upcoming multiplayer shooter, Star Wars Battlefront, does feature X-Wing combat (and has many levels that take place during the Battle of Hoth), but so far, none of that looks Rogue Squadron-specific, and the focus of Battlefront is really on ground-based infantry battles. Hopefully, if Rogue One is a success, there will be plenty of new Rogue Squadron tie-ins headed our way around December 16, 2016, when the movie (finally) premieres.

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