Screenplays frequently have multiple drafts before they're cemented to celluloid, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is no exception. Our bittersweet ending was once more sweet than bitter.
As we know, at the end of Rogue One, our heroes die, one by one, as the battle on Scarif progresses, and in the end, Jyn and Cassian sit on a beach and hold each other as the world ends. But screenwriter Gary Whitta was afraid that the ending was too dark for Disney. An earlier draft was far more optimistic:
According to Whitta, who spoke to Entertainment Weekly, Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor don't transmit the Death Star schematics to the Rebellion. Instead, they bring it themselves in a shuttle — with Vader hot on their heels.
After a fight, during which Jyn and Cassian are transferring information from the data tapes to the Tantive IV, Vader ultimately breaches the shuttle's shields. He destroys the craft and everyone in it ... or so we think. Vader leaves to pursue the Tantive IV. The camera would then focus on what's left of their shuttle.
Jyn and Cassian survive in their escape pod, which floats away like debris, just the Millennium Falcon did in The Empire Strikes Back.
Whitta said, "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."
This wasn't the only change. The only characters from the first drafts to make it into the final were different versions of Jyn (originally a rebel sergeant who commanded a strike force), Cassian (who had a different name), and K-2SO. Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus did not exist.
I think the version we saw on screen was the superior version. It was the adult version of Star Wars that I've always wanted to see, the one where the good guys don't always win (or at least live). I'm glad Whitta, Lucasfilm and Disney agreed that are heroes are better off dead, which serves the story.
So what do you think?