– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Disclaimer: This article may contain spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

When Mads Mikkelsen was first cast in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first of hopefully many standalone anthology films set in the Star Wars universe, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that the man would be a bad guy. He’d already conformed to the role in many projects such as Casino Royale and Hannibal, and it’s a role that he’s been typecast in quite well.

However, some time ago, it was revealed he would actually be Galen Erso, the father of Felicity Jones’ character, Jyn Erso. I still wasn’t convinced that he’d be a good character, as there are plenty of stories where the fathers actually turn out to the be the bad guy (hello, Empire Strikes Back), but the odds were increasingly against me, as the character seemed to be something of a scientists whose knowledge could potentially be used for bad (I’m certainly getting a Manhattan Project vibe here). 

Now, based on the synopsis from upcoming Rogue One prequel book, Catalyst, it sounds like the Manhattan Project feeling I got was correct. 

Check it out (note that Ben Mendelsen’s character is named Orson Krennic):

“War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

“Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.”

This definitely sounds like a story worth telling, and a dynamic worth exploring.

If we piece together that Galen Erso is a bit of a reluctant weapons developer, then that line in the international trailer for Rogue One makes sense. If you don’t recall, Mon Mothma says the following to Jyn Erso:

“We have intercepted a coded Imperial transmission. It indicates that a major weapons test is iminent.”

And then Cassian Andor states, “The message was sent by your father,” which is Galen Erso.

Of course, it’s possible that the trailer is misrepresenting those lines, but if we are to piece it together, it sounds like Jyn’s own father is trying his best to get destroy the Death Star before it causes any damage.

In short, it sounds like I was dead wrong about Mikkelsen’s character being a baddie. I guess we aren’t all perfect (I’m pretty close, though). But it still sounds like pretty darn interesting stuff. What do you think of this new development? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.