Star Wars: A New Hope: Continuity Issues with Rogue One

As a result of watching both Rogue One and subsequently Episode IV: A New Hope, a number of continuity issues arises. Naturally given the nature of this article, SPOILER ALERT for Rogue One!!

Before we launch into each of the issues a general note to say that most of these issues exist because Episode IV: A New Hope (ANH) was written and produced first, during a time when the whole Star Wars saga had yet to be realised. Since being released, ANH has been subjected to one remastering/re-release where George Lucas took it upon himself to fix certain issues within the film. The use of CGI and digital effects to make the spaceport of Mos Eisley, Tatooine more crowded, TIE fighters travelling in space, the insertion of Jabba the Hutt’s scene with Han Solo are all part of these edits. Of course, we cannot avoid the biggest and most controversial change made whereby Lucas has resolved the previous fan debate on who shot first – Han Solo or Greedo. Lucas has clearly resolved this issue and edited the infamous scene to make it look like Greedo shot first!

The whole premise and story-line that we know today as Rogue One was not explored or considered to the depth and detail which has since transpired. Therefore, all the issues raised here pertain to quotes from Episode IV and how we can address/reinterpret them in light of the new detail we benefit from now in 2016/2017+ where Rogue One has been released.

Continuity Issue #1: A New Hope Scroll Text

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

This continuity issue exists because of the wording “first victory”. When you take into account the current animation cartoon series known as Star Wars: Rebels it does make one contemplate how to consider all the “victories” that Ezra Bridger and the truly-fledging Rebel Alliance have accomplished. All the missions that the crew of the Ghost could be considered unofficial Rebel missions, just like the mission and call-sign “Rogue One” was unofficially sanctioned by the official leadership council of the Rebel Alliance.

The wording was originally very intentional, so the only way to truly resolve this continuity issue would be to edit the text such that it reads:

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won a major victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

Continuity Issue #2: Darth Vader interrogating Captain Antilles

Where are those transmissions you intercepted?

As we see from the events of Rogue One, the Death Star plans were transmitted to the Rebel flag-ship Profundity, converted into the portable data disc which then made it aboard Captain Antilles’ ship Tantive IV where Princess Leia directly and physically received the plans. This is shown in the closing scene of the movie before the Rebel fleet jump to hyperspace. Captain Antilles’ role in piloting the Tantve IV and all of Rogue One meant that he definitely had no knowledge of the plans.

Without the events of Rogue One, one interpretation could have been that the Empire had been intentionally transmitting data between bases and the transmissions were intercepted. However, as Rogue One shows, there was a deliberate and intentional transmission of the plans off Scarif to any Rebel ship. To resolve this continuity issue, we can interpret Darth Vader’s word “intercepted” in a more liberal sense such that irrespective of whether the initial transmission was intentional or unintentional on the part of the Empire, the Rebels were clearly attempting to intercept the data transmission.

Continuity Issue #3: Darth Vader interrogating Princess Leia

Don’t play games with me, Your Highness. You weren’t on any mercy mission this time. You passed directly through a restricted system. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.

Whilst very similar to #2 above, this in-depth description given by Darth Vader creates even more continuity problems since Rogue One deviates clearly from this script. You passed directly through a restricted system is accurate since Scarif was well and truly in enemy Imperial/Empire territory. However, the term “passed directly through” is not how one would necessarily describe what is recorded in the Wookieepedia details of Tantive IV – where the description of Tantive IVs operations were in the context of the Battle of Scarif. Indeed a battle is not something a spaceship casually passed directly through. So, for Darth Vader, who was present via the Death Star’s showing up towards the end of the battle, to describe it as passing directly through is now no longer correct and requires an update.

The second part to the issue of continuity harkens back to the nature of the transmissions. The wording is quite explicit and contradicts, as explained by #2 above, is simply in need of revision now in light of the events of Rogue One. What we see as a battle with guerilla warefare playing out on the outskirts of Scarif helping to disguise and distract the Imperial forces away from the real target – the databanks and Death Star design plans. To label the services of Jyn Erso, the main protagonist of Rogue One, along with Captain Cassian Andor as Rebel spies is accurate although their technically the tranmissions were beamed to a different ship in the Profundity, instead of the Tantive IV.

Continuity Issue #4: Obiwan Ever Owning a Droid?

Don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid. Very interesting…

If we follow the heroic adventures of Obiwan and Anakin throughout the animation series that is Star Wars: Clone Wars, we learn that R2D2 is owned by Anakin and C-3PO, whilst constructed by Anakin as a kid, becomes Padme’s. The prevalence of astromech droids in the service to the Grand Army of the Republic, as led by the Jedi Council means Obiwan would have been very accustomed to having droids around, even if he personally did not own one.

The main point of contention with the statement uttered by Obiwan here in A New Hope is based on his close proximity to Anakin and R2 throughout the Clone Wars. Surely their common missions where R2 accompanied both of them would have led to recognition.

Continuity Issue #5: Commander Tagge’s View of the Death Star

Until this battle station is fully operational we are vulnerable. The Rebel Alliance is too well equipped. They’re more dangerous than you realize.

Commander Tagge’s comment here contradicts the events of Rogue One. The Death Star and its actions throughout the film in destroying two bases in my opinion constitutes a fully operational battle station. The only way we can justify the statement from A New Hope is that neither test/firing of the Death Star contained the power to destroy the entire planet.

Continuity Issues #6: Moff Admiral Tarkin’s Quotes about the Death Star

I think it is time we demonstrate the full power of this station.


Princess Leia, before your execution I would like you to be my guest at a ceremony that will make this battle station operational. No star system will dare oppose the Emperor now.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way, you have determined the choice of the planet that’ll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station’s destructive power… on your home planet of Alderaan.

The issue of continuity arises here because in Rogue One we clearly see an operational Death Star, unleashed on the capital city of Jedha first and then at the end of the film, on the compromised Imperial base on Scarif. In both these operations of the Death Star, it is interesting that the firepower is contained and limited so that the planets themselves remain intact and the damage is focused on the planet/moon surfaces. Without the opportunity to analyze frames from both scenes within Rogue One and compare them to the equivalent scene in ANH where Alderaan is destroyed, it is hard to know what differences there were in the operations of the Death Star.

In ANH, Tarkin has two quotes, the first where the first one emphasises the “full power of this station”, which is the easier of the two quotes to harmonise given the above explanation in that we did not see a full planet destroyed by the Death Star, only bases whilst the planet itself remained intact. In the second lengthier quote, which is provided with the conversational context, Tarkin no longer makes specific reference to the full power, but generalises his statement into demonstrating the destructive power of the station. We subsequently see the preparation sequences of the officers aboard the Death Star and the total destruction of Alderaan.

Continuity Issues #7: Darth Vader taunting Obi-wan

When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.

At face value, before George Lucas developed the scripts for Episodes I – III, plus the animation series for the Clone Wars was thought of, this quote by Darth Vader would have suggested that Obi-wan and Darth Vader were directly in a Master – padawan/learner relationship.

There is a whole continuity problem in the way that the entire animation series of the Clone Wars is supposed to fit between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The character development of Anakin throughout the Clone Wars is then  trivialised and simplified back to the events of Episode III, where Obi-wan and Anakin spent much time together. Obi-wan was clearly a representation to Anakin of the entire Jedi Order/Jedi Council, who were his master and “holding him back”.

The relationship between Master and palawan is an interesting and complex one given that to be a master means two different things according to the prequel accounts – a Jedi Master is a title and rank earned and bestowed by the Jedi Council alone to individual Jedi who attain the highest level of skill. Anakin was granted a position on the Jedi Council, acting as a representative on behalf of the Chancellor, yet denied the rank:

You are on this Council, but we do not grant you the rank of Master.

What? How can you do this? This is outrageous! It’s unfair!

So, returning to the original quote, the title/rank of Master is not one that can be self-proclaimed, because otherwise, Anakin himself would have adopted the title. Perhaps as Darth Vader, and with the Jedi Order extinguished, he felt entitled to do so. Indeed, the Jedi personality of humility meant that generally, no Jedi would be so arrogant to demand or claim the title for him/herself. This ambition in Anakin was very anti-Jedi in itself and this arrogance was largely fed undoubtedly by his proximity and influence from Chancellor Palpatine, who very successfully corrupted him.

The other aspect to the Master – student/learner/padawan relationship is that even though many Jedi attain the rank of Master, they remain deferential and respectful to their elder Masters, particularly Master Yoda who was the oldest and wisest of them all. As Darth Vader, his claim that now he is the master whereas formerly he was a learner is intentionally disrespectful to Obi-wan. We see this challenge and disrespect in their last battle as depicted in Episode III/ROS, where their epic duel ultimately cost Darth Vader his limbs and Obi-wan claimed victory.


Other Continuity Issues

Other continuity issues exist in ANH due to the other Star Wars movies, particularly the prequels (Episodes I through III). The references Obi-wan Kenobi makes to Anakin Skywalker are intentional though, and are largely true – Anakin Skywalker was a great Jedi and star pilot. The story provided by Ben to Luke explaining Darth Vader killed Anakin we respect as his way of telling the story from a certain point of view, that is intentional to the storyline of Episodes IV – VI. In Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is troubled by the deception that Ben/Obi-wan caused, and because this storyline is pertinent to the events, it can be disregarded as an actual continuity issue.

The nature of the Force is a whole topic on its own given the way it is described differently over the course of all the movies:

  • Episode IV/ANH: Ben/Obi-wan describes it to Luke on Tatooine
  • Episode V/ESB: Master Yoda to Luke during training on Dagobah
  • Episode I/TPM: Qui-Gon Jinn to Anakin explaining midiclorians

In Rogue One, whilst Jedi are absent from the movie, a key memorable quote regarding the Force is by Chirrut Îmwe:

Am I one with the Force. The Force is with me!


Overall, these continuity issues should not be huge stumbling blocks to Star Wars fans. I still enjoy watching the original Star Wars movies of Episode IV – VI, even though the alignment to Episodes I – III, or the other material is not perfect. In fact, it is these imperfections which help to emphasis the fact that our beloved Star Wars characters were human and flawed, if not reading and taking direction from multiple script writers who did not all have the opportunity to synchronise and iron out all these differences.

Separate write-ups for Obi-wan and Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker will no doubt explore their various states of mind throughout the Star Wars saga, to help us further understand these heroes. Rogue One even helped push the understanding of Darth Vader even further given the fan pleasing scene of Darth Vader in a bacta/rejuvenation tank.

Whilst Rogue One is intended to be a stand-alone movie/story within the Star Wars universe, it is clearly tied into the larger narrative:

  • Mentions of the Force
  • Jedi Order extinction bar one “that Jedi” aka Obi-wan Kenobi
  • Senators Bail Organa and Mon Motha – representatives of the former Senate of the Galactic Republic body
  • All the Empire constructs, including the Death Star, Stay Destroyers and Imperial ranks
  • Moff Tarkin
  • Darth Vader
  • Princess Leia, with R2-D2 and C-3PO

In this way, every Star Wars film has included the two droids, some form of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader AND Obi-wan Kenobi. When you consider this statement remains true for Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it remains to be seen how all these characters will continue to be present in 2017’s release of Episode VIII.