Here's how Rogue One's happier alternate ending would have played out
Spoilers ahead for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
It's been reported for awhile now that Rogue One nearly ended without everyone, you know, dying, but now, thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we know exactly how that much happier conclusion would have played out.
According to screenwriter Gary Whitta, filmmakers knew pretty early on that they wanted everyone to die at the end, but they were worried that Disney would nix the idea, which meant that, in the original treatment from John Knoll, a few of the film's heroes survived the final battle. In this early version of the script, Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe, and Baze Malbus didn't exist, and Jyn was an enlisted sergeant in the Rebel army. She commanded a strike force which included K-2SO and an early version of a Cassian Andor-type, and, although K-2SO and many others still perished, Jyn and Cassian made it out alive.
In the alternate ending, the Death Star still came to destroy Scarif, but Jyn and Cassian escaped the planet via a rebel ship carrying the data tapes. As the Rebels rushed to transfer the information to Leia, Darth Vader followed and attacked Jyn's shuttle, eventually succeeding in destroying the ship and leading viewers to believe that Jyn had died. However, the camera would remain on the shuttle fragments, eventually showing that one of them was actually an escape pod carrying the heroes in an ending reminiscent of Han Solo's moves in The Empire Strikes Back.
As much as they reworked it, the escape always seemed just a little bit too convenient to the writers, so they decided to pitch the deadly ending to Disney, eventually getting the greenlight. "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 difficult," Whitta said. "We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif] and that was the way it ended. We were constantly trying to make all the pieces fit together. We tried every single idea. Eventually, through endless development you get through an evolutionary process where the best version rises to the top."
"You have the darkness that's in the undercurrent of the story at that point, but you still have the rightness of why they're doing it," added director Gareth Edwards. "It doesn't feel depressing. It feels like you want them to succeed at any cost. It's a sport where the clock is ticking, and they need to just dive across the finish line. You do whatever you need to do to get there. It's a gauntlet that they're handing to Princess Leia. You get that moment where the crowd feels like it can cheer at the end."
Rogue One's alternate ending may have left people happier leaving the theater, but it would have left open a lot of plot holes in the Star Wars universe, making people question where all of these fighters were during the events of A New Hope. Whether or not you're a fan of the Rogue One ending, read up on the key pieces of the ending that you may have missed and see how the Star Wars universe may have changed had the Rogue One fighters survived.