Geeks and their fandoms tend to be a traditional bunch. We like things the way they are, rarely accepting of change. Star Wars Rogue One has already become divisive within its fandom, even before its release. Geeks are afraid the film won’t begin with the ubiquitous opening scrawl!
I’ll get right to the point; I don’t think Rogue One will, or should have the opening scrawl. The Episodes have it, yes, but that’s because they’re so special. It’s part of what makes them indelible in the annuls of science fiction.
The opening scrawl is something fans anticipate when an Episode begins, especially when it’s a new movie. The Episodes are distinct chapters in a grand epic. While Rogue One will no doubt be epic, it is technically a side story, as stated in its title. I believe the scrawl should be reserved for the Episodes.
But It Doesn’t Sound Like Star Wars!
Another crucial element reserved for the Episodes is an original John Williams score. The lack thereof in Rogue One has become a topic of some contention within the fandom. The movies, games, and animated series use John Williams’ familiar, gorgeous themes, with modifications as necessary due to Williams not participating in the production. John Williams not scoring Rogue One is more due to practical reasons than anything else. The aged Jedi just doesn’t have the time, or stamina to put out such a volume of work. Rogue One is a side story, let it’s score stand on it’s own.
The score, and the scrawl, make the Episodes even more special than they are already. These two elements are part of what makes the Episodes feel coherent, all part of a grand space opera. Rogue One needs neither to fit into the overall story, and in my opinion, don’t really need either to succeed.
Rogue One will be judged against all other Star Wars films. In the eyes of some fans it already has a leg up on at most, three. It can not be judged on whether or not it has an opening scrawl, or a John Williams score. The score will sound enough like it fits in the same universe as Star Wars, and hopefully the film begins as if it were just any other science fiction movie. Leave the classic score, and opening for the Episodes where they belong.
When John Williams becomes one with the force (hopefully far, far in the future) will we say Episodes X, XI, and XII can’t be made because he didn’t score them? No, we won’t.