Who are the heroes of Star Wars? Luke Skywalker? Leia Organa? Han Solo? Yes, but Rogue One (contains spoilers) shows us that there are more heroes than we could imagine—some named and most unnamed—who play critical roles in the successful recovery of the Death Star plans and, consequently, its destruction. As they press on with no guarantee of success or survival, they model for us how we can persevere in hope, faith, and love.
At first, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story centers on Jyn Erso, the daughter of Galen, a key engineer for the Death Star. Given her family history, the Rebel Alliance recruits her to learn about the Empire’s new weapon. As the movie proceeds, it becomes apparent that she is only one link in the long chain for the rebels to destroy the Death Star:
- Galen Erso places a flaw in the Death Star design such that a single torpedo could destroy the station.
- He sends Bodhi Rook, an Imperial defector, to Saw Gerrara with this information.
- Saw gives this message to Jyn, which contains the location of the Death Star plans.
- Captain Cassian Andor rallies troops, and they proceed to steal the plans together.
- On the ground, the troops create a distraction, and many give their lives to facilitate transmission of the plans to the rebel fleet.
- Meanwhile, the fleet destroys the planetary shield so the message can get through.
- Cassian and Jyn find and transmit the plans, not knowing if someone can even receive them.
- Admiral Raddus downloads the plans in the rebel flagship.
- When the Empire disables the ship, an unnamed rebel saves the plans to a disc and dies at the hands of Darth Vader as he passes them to another unnamed rebel, allowing the disc to reach Princess Leia.
- Leia downloads the plans to R2-D2, and when rescued, finally delivers the droid to the Alliance leadership.
- Finding Galen’s intended flaw, the rebels launch an attack.
- Luke destroys the Death Star with the help of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
So, who is the hero? While only two receive medals in the closing shot of Star Wars: A New Hope, each person—each link in the chain—above was just as crucial, just as needed to destroy the Death Star. With the exception of Leia1 and some in the rebel fleet, everyone in steps 1 through 9 died, not knowing if their efforts would succeed.
These Three Remain2
How does one press on, even sacrifice themselves, if they have no idea whether or not their efforts will make a difference? The rebels did so because they have hope, faith, and love.
One of clearest messages of Rogue One is hope. Facing insurmountable odds, characters twice say, “Rebellions are built on hope.” This stands in contrast with those who only look at statistics like K-2SO and many Alliance council members. Without hope, people would only do what is likely to succeed. But when we need the improbable to occur, we can only break free from a fatalism of the likely with hope, taking every chance given to us.
Literally blind, Chirrut Imwe embodies faith in Rouge One. When he proclaims, “I fear nothing, for all is as the Force wills it”, he essentially places trust in divine providence. Note that he attributes a will to the Force, which is otherwise impersonal in the Star Wars universe. Nevertheless, it most closely resembles Biblical theism when he (and Qui-Gon in Episode I) acknowledge and trust the will of the Force, (for what has a will other than a person?) In this way, we see that faith is not just believing a doctrine, but trusting the will of another.
Chirrut also exemplifies how to find strength in his spirituality. He continually reminds himself, “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me.” This is not religious brainwashing, but purposefully holding on to the truth that he has previously learned when present circumstances would cause doubt and fear.
Later in the film, after Jyn and Cassian transmit the plans to the rebel fleet, Jyn’s remarks also exhort the audience to faith:
Cassian: Do you think anyone’s listening?
Jyn: I do… Someone’s out there.
“Someone’s out there”? Why would she say that? They know the fleet is there. They don’t know if the shield had been taken down or if the rebels expect the transmission. Her comment signifies a change in attitude. At the beginning of the movie, she would not look up, not wanting to see the Empire’s flags, believing that the Empire and evil have the final word. Her comment, reminiscent of Chirrut’s faith, signifies a new found optimism that good triumphs.3
As we can see from these examples, faith is synonymous with trust.4 The rebels need to trust one another, but many also trust in Something greater than themselves to orchestrate the events so that their contributions matter. Jyn, Chirrut, and many others found that the Force ensured success. (In actuality, it was the writers of Rogue One that guaranteed all the events worked out.) For us, it is God who is sovereign over all things, who writes the story, who we can trust to fit our contributions into His larger plan.5
Lastly, the heroes of Rogue One have love. They sacrifice because they care about other individuals as well as the cause. Galen tells his young daughter that everything he does is to protect her, which includes placing the flaw in the Death Star. In turn, Jyn’s love for her father inspires her to complete his act of defiance. Most others rebel out of their general love for the galaxy, to see it freed from tyranny.
Since they do not focus on themselves, they can persevere even if they never see the results. On the other hand, director Orsen Krennic serves as the foil, obsessed with his personal achievement. Caring foremost about his prestige, he could not let go of the Death Star project, but insists that he remain in control. Ironically, he sees the results firsthand and dies by the weapon he created.
Not only does Rogue One highlight the rebels’ hope, faith, and love, we see how they catch these contagions from one another. Jyn quotes Cassian about hope. Baze regains his faith seeing Chirrut’s successful bravery. Jyn planned to mind her own business, but her father’s love motivates her to continue his efforts to oppose the Empire.
In the same way, the Rebel Alliance can inspire us as we aim to make the world a better place. Allow me to provide a personal example. While my wife and I blog about movies, TV, and literature, we hope to benefit others by highlighting the spirituality of Jesus. Just as most rebels could not see the end result of relaying their message, I usually cannot see how a blog post affects a reader.
But I have hope that this website benefits people. I must trust God that the right person stumbles on the right article at the right time. And I need love, as the hardest part is reminding myself that the goal is helping others, not having a popular blog.
Enough about me. What mission are you on? Can you persevere, even when you do not see the results? How can you learn from the Rebel Alliance and emulate their examples of hope, faith, and love?
- Last week, Carrie Fisher passed on. A true hero, she will be remembered for the role she played in challenging gender stereotypes on and off screen and advocated for those struggling with mental health. ↩
- The Apostle Paul writes, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) ↩
- As though it is spoken through the fourth wall, Jyn’s choice of words makes more sense to the audience in our universe than Cassian in the Star Wars universe, as we do not have the impersonal Force, but the personal God who listens as we call out to him. ↩
- The film starts with Jyn’s mother exhorting her, “Trust in the Force.” ↩
- As the film points out, a sovereign writer does not mean that there will not be setbacks. Cables are too short, antennae need to be re-aligned, and doors don’t open. Murphy’s Law and miraculous events are not mutually exclusive. ↩