There’s been a breakthrough in the case of Jyn Erso vs. TIE fighter: the chief suspect has admitted the incident in question never took place.
You may remember the scene from multiple trailers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Jyn walks along an aerial platform on Scarif, blaster in hand, when a TIE fighter pops up at point-blank range.
It’s a profoundly arresting image that indicated a “how does she get out of that?” showdown.
But in the movie, the TIE was effectively airbrushed out; Jyn was simply walking towards a control panel that would help her upload the Death Star plans to the Rebel fleet. So fans naturally wondered: was the TIE showdown part of one of the movie’s many alternative endings?
Now Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has finally come clean: It was never meant to be.
“We knew it would not be in the film,” Edwards admitted for the first time Friday in an interview with EW. “It was something the marketing team fell in love with … it wasn’t a specific part of the story.”
All of which raises the question: When is it fair to tease fans with the entertainment equivalent of fake news?
To be sure, a lot of trailers do this sort of thing; they have done for years. Usually the insertions are pretty benign. For example, nobody resented it when the Monsters Inc. trailer gave us a not-in-the-movie line to introduce Mike Wazowski: “Oh sure, blame the little guy! With one eye!” Comedies such as Superbad and Black Christmas were particularly egregious offenders; nobody minded.
When it comes to Star Wars, as you may have noticed, people mind.
No trailer for a previous movie in the franchise has offered scenes that weren’t in the film; fans have a reasonable expectation that what they see is what they’re going to get. (Given that there have been TIE-vs.-human face-offs in the animated series Rebels, there was also a reasonable expectation that the same feat could be repeated in a live-action movie.)
And yes, the kind of Star Wars fan who gets excited about an up close and personal encounter with a TIE fighter will likely be going to see Rogue One anyway. But if that’s the case, why risk creating disappointment among your hardest core fanbase?
In an epic that is all about doing the right thing when you’re tempted to go to the Dark Side, the TIE lie seems particularly ironic.
To offer up a scene you know will cause excitement, in the full knowledge it will never be seen? That’s a deception worthy of Emperor Palpatine.