Admiral Ackbar, Star Wars’ fish-headed Rebel military leader whose squidish race (Mon Calamari) is only matched in silly brilliance by his beloved line of dialogue (“It’s a trap!”), is a fan favorite for a reason. He’s a perfect example of the original trilogy’s weird, imaginative charm. It’s no wonder those continuing the story of the Skywalkers wanted to include him in all their narratives. As it turns out, two Star Wars writers — The Force Awakens’ J.J. Abrams and Rogue One’s Gary Whitta — both wanted Ackbar in their films, but Abrams won out because he got there first.
Whitta explained his idea for Ackbar’s involvement in Rogue One, a film which is set even before the first Star Wars, on Twitter — along with the reasons it didn’t come to fruition.
Take a look:
Why no Ackbar? Well, Abrams had the leader (now of the Resistance) hanging out at HQ as the squad prepared to take out Starkiller Base. Disney decided that was enough Ackbar for the time being:
Until, of course, he died in The Last Jedi’s explosive prelude to Leia’s Force-driven spaceflight. But even in this scene, Whitta fought for his boy Ackbar. Whitta wrote the TLJ comic, in which Ackbar gets some final words (something omitted from his on-screen death): "Torpedoes inbound! It's been an honor serving with you all."
Whitta shared a few other behind-the-scenes details about Rogue One’s journey from script to screen, including the fact that — up until footage had been shot and trailer had been cut—the vault where the Death Star plans were kept was at a separate facility from the place Jyn needed to transmit them from:
Another, much earlier change involved a character that already got a defining moment in Rogue One: Darth Vader. Apparently, Whitta wanted Vader down on the planet’s surface, tearing through Rebel scum on his way to stop Jyn. It sounds awesome:
Thankfully, as Whitta says, fans got to see Vader at his most brutal in the film in any case — but just thinking about the possibilities that didn’t work out for the first Star Wars Story make future entries into the nooks and crannies of the canon even more exciting.