First off, I have not seen some early showing of Rogue One. These are just my thoughts about the idea of the movie. I do plan to see it, someday, but I’m really looking forward to its release because then I’ll stop seeing ads for it.
Back in the pre-prequel days when I still cared for Star Wars, if you had asked me my thoughts on the how someone stole the plans to the Death Star, my response would probably have been: “Someone stole the plans.” If you pressed me further, I’d probably have said that there was likely a novel about it, but it was probably on shaky – at best – canon ground. If you pressed even further and asked what I thought likely happened, I’m not sure what I would have come up with. Now that I’m older with more writing experience, this is what I would have come up with for the story behind stealing the Death Star plans.
The Empire would not be above using slave labor. So there would be a band of humans and aliens, some are criminals while others are there for whatever trumped up charges the Empire came up with to get rid of certain elements of society. Only a few would be full blown rebels. There would be occasional acts of sabotage, but these would be dealt with by mass executions. During these, Darth Vader might be seen in the distance, but he’d probably not have much interaction with the prisoners being the boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.
What would happen is a small group would be working on escaping with the plans. For added emotion, there would probably be a group that stayed behind to cause some sort of distraction, knowing that the result would be their executions.
That would be my idea, so you can imagine me sighing when the first trailers for Rogue One came out and I realized that instead of something akin to The Great Escape set in the Star Wars Universe we’re getting a generic action movie set in the Star Wars Universe. Don’t get me wrong, explosions, gun fights, and action can be great, it’s just not every movie has to have them. It’s like my biggest issue with The Force Awakens is that – if they were going to shove another Star Wars movie down my throat – I wanted something new, but instead I got a rehashing of previous plot elements. In theory, these side Star Wars movies are a chance to do something different.