Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the evolution of the story for the first non-Skywalker Star Wars film. "I didn't say everyone made it off", Whitta clarified.
"We told them, we feel they all need to die, ' Whitta said. There were a lot of casualties on both sides, in both versions of the scripts", Whitta said.
In fact the mission to steal the Death Star plans are briefly mentioned in the latter film's opening crawl.
But the filmmakers lobbied for what they believed would be a stronger finish, and they ended up getting the conclusion that we saw in theaters - with all of the rebel fighters tasked with stealing plans for the Death Star superweapon perishing in battle. The two rebels would jettison in an escape pod - just like C-3PO and R2-D2 in the original Star Wars. For example, Whitta's draft made some plans for an opening crawl, but didn't include characters like Chirrut Imwe or Baze Malbus.
I've got to admit, the collector in me wishes director Gareth Edwards has filmed that ending, if for no other reason that to have it on the Blu-Ray when it is released on April 4.
"I think you've already seen us get 90 percent of the way there with "Rogue One". "If you're going to give your life for anything, give your life for this, to destroy a weapon that going to kill you all anyway".
But then we discover that Jyn and Cassian were able to get away in an escape pod just before Vader destroyed the ship they were on. "One of the thing things we really want to do at Lucasfilm is create a universe and not keep relying on old legacy characters", he continued. Both Whitta and his successor as writer on the project, Chris Weitz, felt the team needed to die - and that the "writing gods" were making it hard for them to survive. Personally, I'm still holding out hope that there was at least a discussion to have Darth Vader cut down the Rogue One heroes in the same manner that he did the nameless Rebel Soldiers at the tail end of the movie, but that day may never come. "The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif".
"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 hard", Whitta said.
Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the alternate ending in the comments!