Disney and Lucasfilm have billed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the first stand-alone Star Wars film. But don’t let that mislead you into thinking that you don’t have to know anything about Star Wars before seeing you see it. True, you shouldn’t have to read a whole library full of books or sit through hours and hours of television to understand what’s going on, but it will help.
By the way, there are no comic books directly related to Rogue One at this time. Earlier this year, Marvel did announce a prequel mini-series that would have run three issues. However, on May 17, ComicBook.com confirmed that the series would not be released. The comics adaptation of Rogue One finally began in early April 2017.
Here’s a look at what you need to know about the Star Wars timeline before you see Rogue One. In addition, this post includes a timeline of the Star Wars canon as it stands now.
Where Does ‘Rogue One’ Fit in ‘Star Wars’?
First off, it’s important to know just when Rogue One takes place in the Star Wars canon. The film tells the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and a group of Rebels who steal the Death Star plans in order to learn how the Galactic Empire’s superweapon works. It will end with those plans getting in the hands of the Rebel Alliance, because that’s where they are at the start of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. So, Rogue One takes place just before the events of the first Star Wars movie. (Well… the first one released.)
SPOILER: Skip the following paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie yet
Now that we know that none of the main cast survives the events in the movie, we will definitely never see them again on film. It’s possible we could hear from them again in novels or comics to flesh out their backstories, though.
WATCH: The 1 That Started it All – ‘A New Hope’
If you don’t have time to watch all seven Star Wars films before seeing Rogue One, you have to at least see the film that started it all. To many, it’s still just Star Wars, but it’s also known by its episode title, A New Hope. The opening crawl of the film references “Rebel spies” who “managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.” Rogue One explains how those spies accomplished the mission.
A New Hope takes place approximately 19 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Rogue One is set within the year before Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) tried to reach Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine.
Oddly enough, Rogue One shows just how hard it was to find the Death Star plans, but A New Hope shows just how close the Empire got to stopping the Rebels from using them. In the film, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) take the plans inside R2-D2 back to the Death Star without even knowing how important that little droid is. Between Rogue One and A New Hope, no one in the Rebellion thought of making a copy.
READ: ‘Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel’ Acts as a Prequel to the Movie
Star Wars fans were given a month to read Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno before Roge One hit theaters. The book is a prequel to the film and explores the relationship between scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).
It turns out that Erso and Krennic knew each other during the Clone Wars. Krennic saved Erso, his wife Lyra and their daughter Jyn from the Separatists, who were trying to build a new massive weapon to stop the Republic. After the Empire came into being, Erso and Krennic went their separate ways.
During the Empire, Krennic is a member of the Death Star project and believes Erso holds the information the Empire needs to make the Death Star the ultimate superweapon. Erso wants his research used for good, but Krennic plans on using him for other purposes.
As trailers showed, we saw flashbacks to Jyn’s past in the film, so if you don’t finish the book before you see the movie, you won’t be lost at all.
WATCH: Saw Gerrera Makes his Debut in the Battle of Onderon Episodes of ‘The Clone Wars’
Rogue One will include the first Star Wars animated character to make the jump from animation to live action since Boba Fett jumped from the Star Wars Holiday Special to The Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, it’s not Ahsoka Tano. It’s Saw Gerrera, who appeared in The Clone Wars, which takes place between Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
Gerrera was a key figure during the Battle of Onderon between the Republic and Separatists in the Clone Wars. The battle was spread over four episodes of The Clone Wars series: “A War on Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” “The Soft War” and “Tipping Points.” Gerrera’s rebels were trained by Ahsoka, Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. During their fighting, he saw his sister killed.
All episodes of The Clone Wars can be found on Netflix, including the ones with Gerrera.
During the age of the Empire, Gerrera created a group called the Partisans and they were seen as terrorists. Gerrera also appeared in Catalyst and was mentioned in the Rebels episode “The Honorable Ones.”
In Rogue One, Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker plays Gerrera.
READ: For a Look at the Empire’s Oppression, Read ‘Bloodline’
At first, Claudia Gray’s excellent Star Wars: Bloodline doesn’t sound like it should be related to Rogue One at all. After all, it takes place six years before Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, or about 30 years after Rogue One. However, the Lucasfilm story group has done a good job of using novels to flesh out details of the newly established canon timeline though character descriptions and flashbacks.
The main goal of Bloodline is to establish what drove Princess Leia to create the Resistance we see in The Force Awakens and how the New Republic learned that Leia is the daughter of Darth Vader. The galaxy also learns that Anakin Skywalker, a hero of the Clone Wars, became Vader.
The book gives insight into what the Rebellion was up against before A New Hope. We learn from the background of Senator Ransolm Casterfo that his planet, Riosa, was where parts of the Death Star was built. Both of his parents were exposed to toxic gases and died shortly after the New Republic was created. He saw his father personally punished because other laborers were not meeting quotas. Casterfo saw Vader personally visit Riosa.
So, while Bloodline isn’t directly linked to Rogue One, it will help you understand just how strong the Empire’s grip on the galaxy was during the “Dark Times.”
WATCH: ‘Rebels’ Gives a Look at Another Rebel Cell
Star Wars Rebels is the current Disney XD animated series. It began five years before A New Hope and focuses on Ezra Bridger, a kid from Lothal who has a connection to the Force and is being trained by Kanan Jarrus.
Kanan and Ezra are part of Phoenix Squadron, a group of Rebels who originated from Lothal. They are just one Rebel cell and throughout the series, we have seen how the Rebel Alliance began to group other cells together to form a large organization with the common goal of toppling the Empire.
The latest TV spot for Rogue One, seen above, reveals that we will see the Ghost in the major space battle sequence. The Ghost is the ship Kanan, Ezra, Hera, Zeb, Sabine and Chopper use.
A source for Star Wars News Net report that special effects wizard John Knoll came up with the idea of the Ghost making a brief cameo in the film. Knoll is credited with coming up with the idea for Rogue One.
The ‘Star Wars’ Canon Under Disney
Here is a list of what’s canon under Disney, including most of the main novels and comics between the movies. The company has yet to produce anything prior to the events of The Phantom Menace, so that’s where the current timeline begins. For an even more complete timeline, click here to go to AllTimelines.com.
PREQUEL ERA (32 years – 19 years before A New Hope)
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
- Obi-Wan & Anakin (comic)
- Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
- The Clone Wars (TV Series)
- Dark Disciple (Novel)
- Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
THE DARK TIMES (19 years – 0 years before A New Hope)
- Lords of the Sith (Novel)
- Tarkin (Novel)
- Catalyst: A Rogue One Story (Novel)
- Thrawn (Novel)
- A New Dawn (Novel)
- Kanan: The Last Padawan (Comics)
- Ahsoka (Novel)
- Rebels (TV Series)
- Lando Calrissian (Comics)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY (0 years – 3 years after A New Hope)
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
- Heir to the Jedi (Novel)
- Star Wars (Comics)
- Darth Vader (Comics)
- Doctor Aphra (Comics)
- Princess Leia (Comics)
- Chewbacca (Comics)
- Han Solo (Comics)
- Battlefront: Twilight Company (Novel)
- Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
THE NEW REPUBLIC ERA (3 years – 30+ years after A New Hope)
- Aftermath (Novel)
- Aftermath: Life Debt (Novel)
- Aftermath: Empire’s End (Novel)
- Bloodline (Novel)
- Poe Dameron (Comics)
- Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi – December 15, 2017
- Star Wars: Episode IX – May 25, 2019