The first Disney-made Star Wars film outside the new and upcoming main trilogy will be titled Rogue One, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said on March 12.
Disney gave out a few details about the new film: It’s being directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz, Felicity Jones has been cast for the film, and it’s set for release on December 16, 2016, after Star Wars: The Force Awakens but before Star Wars: Episode VIII, which also had its release date announced.
Disney also said the idea for Rogue One’s storyline came from John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light & Magic, the production company George Lucas started in 1975 to work on the first Star Wars. Knoll has worked on visual effects for a host of sci-fi favorites, including the Star Wars prequels and Star Trek TV episodes and films.
That’s all Disney is saying for sure about Rogue One for now. So what will it actually be about? The film’s title betrays one big clue.
In Star Wars lore, several top Rebel Alliance fighter pilots (they’re the good guys of the films) formed up an elite unit after the destruction of the first Death Star, seen at the end of A New Hope. The group isn’t mentioned much in the movies, but a series of video games in the late 1990s and early 2000s cemented their status in Star Wars canon.
The unit’s name? Rogue Squadron, headed up by “Rogue Leader.” Or, alternatively, “Rogue One.”
Does that mean we’re getting a Rogue Squadron spinoff movie? Maybe! In the first trailer for Force Awakens, we get a glimpse of an X-wing pilot who very well could be a member of Rouge Squadron. In Star Wars history, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles have both served as Rogue Leader, but that doesn’t mean a Rogue Squadron film would be about them. It could easily be set more in the future—long after those two had hung up their flight jackets.