Rogue One opened last year to rave reviews and a massive box office intake. It’s set in the same Star Wars universe we have come to love, but its dark ending made it much different than earlier movies. We’ve heard rumors that the ending wasn’t planned when the original script was penned, and writer Gary Whitta confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the original ending was a lot more cheery.
Note there are spoilers ahead
When Whitta first wrote the script, he allowed Jyn Erso and Cassian to live. The original ending had a Rebel ship dropping into the beach in Scarif and picking up Jyn and Cassian. When they made their way to space, they transferred the files to Princess Leia’s ship just before Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer begins its pursuit of Leia, but not before Jyn and Cassian’s Rebel ship is destroyed. Amidst the rubble, however, an escape pod randomly fires, hinting at the survival of Jyn and Cassian.
This just didn’t fit in with the rest of the story and it was changed later for the nuclear deaths on the beach.
“The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult,” revealed Whitta, “We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif], and that was the way it ended. We were constantly trying to make all the pieces fit together. We tried every single idea. Eventually, through endless development you get through an evolutionary process where the best version rises to the top.”
This was the best move
The decision to kill off Jyn and Cassian feels like the right move. Both of these characters don’t have roles in the Star Wars universe outside of Rogue One, so containing the story in this single movie was probably the best move. It also made the horrors of war that much more poignant by highlighting not everybody survives.