1. When is the Darth Vader film happening?
If the audience reaction to Darth Vader in my theater was any indication, the studio is going to be awfully tempted to do a Darth Vader film of some kind that takes places around the time period of Rogue One. He received by far the biggest reactions throughout the film compared to everyone (besides the last second cameo discussed in question #2), and the scene where he tears through a rebel crew was just stunning and brutal in the best way possible.
I’m not sure what story they could tell (perhaps something about a rebel conspiracy to assassinate him or something – the rebel’s version of CIA seemed very intriguing in Rogue One), but it’s clear there is a TON of demand for more Vader.
After watching Rogue One, the question of a Vader film seemed like merely a question of “when” as opposed to “if.” I would not be surprised if it becomes the third or fourth anthology film at this point. His presence made that big of an impact.
2. How far will they push the CG characters?
As someone who went into the film actively attempting to know as little as possible about it (I nearly jumped out of my seat when Jimmy fucking Smits showed up), it was shocking to see Governor Tarkin appear in the film. Even more shocking was that he appeared to be played by the VERY dead person, Peter Cushing. The technological advancements that allowed for a genuinely realistic CG portrayal of Cushing was absolutely remarkable. He was a legitimate character in the film, and the only distracting part was that I knew the actor was dead.
Still though, it was one thing to do it with Cushing. A beloved actor to be sure, but he was not playing an iconic character or anything. When they repeated the same feat with Princess Leia to close out the film, it was even more impressive. Leia is one of the most legendary characters in cinema history, and here she was resurrected (which received an audience reaction greater than even anything Vader got).
Where will they take this going forward? It’s important to ask because now that they CAN do such realistic portrayals of human beings, there is theoretically nothing stopping them from doing it with Luke, Han, etc. The fear will be that this technological advancement will prevent them from pushing forward with new characters. Let’s hope for the best.
3. When will the studio feel more comfortable not constantly referencing the original films?
A nod here and there is fine, but the first two new Star Wars films from Disney have felt like they have been constantly referencing the older films. In The Force Awakens, the issue was that the story seemed to reflect the older films time and time again. With Rogue One, they tried to shove as many direct references to older characters as possible. Bail Organa, Governor Tarkin, Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Princess Leia all pop up in this film. For the most part, they all had genuine roles to actually play in the film (with Tarkin playing a shockingly major role).
However, there was one genuine questionable addition. The scene with the pig-faced man and his buddy who Luke got into a scuffle with mere days later on a completely different planet popping up here was completely unnecessary. This film already has so much hero-worship issues with the older films that there is truly no need to go THAT far with the callbacks. Moving forward, the films really have to do a better job of just leaving the old behind (without disrespecting them of course). Invest more in the new, and the Star Wars films will be all the richer for it.
4. How will the studio respond to the success of this film?
This film has already been a critical hit and will sure to be a major commercial success. How will the studio respond to that? Will they decide to go back further with the characters in this film? Will this convince them that they need the anthology films to stick very closely to the original saga?
It is a crucial time for the future of Star Wars obviously. Given the sheer amount of references to the old films and the expected audience reactions to the older characters in Rogue One, the studio will be sorely temped to use that as the key components for the blueprints of future films.
In the ideal world, the studio will recognize that they came dearly close to producing a great film in its own right if they just invested a little bit more in the original characters for this film. The freedom of telling stories away from the central conflicts of previous Star Wars films would possibly allow them to do just that.
5. Can we get some black women in fucking Star Wars already?!?
Sorry, I’m still grieving over the fact that Tessa Thompson was not cast in the Han Solo prequel film.