Other Pieces of Pop Culture That Will Expand How You See 'Rogue One'

The plot of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" centers around an effort to steal the plans of the Death Star space station, and provides backstory for the events leading up to the first "Star Wars" film. Star Wars/YouTube

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," the newest film in the iconic galactic saga, stands on its own well enough. But there are many bits of "Star Wars" lore that can greatly enhance the viewing experience, whether you're seeing it for the first time or you're already a seasoned "Rogue One" vet. Engaging with these five other pieces of pop culture will make watching that movie even better, and you can easily visit these before you've seen the film or after.

1. "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" and "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope"

It might seem obvious to go back and watch the films in the "Star Wars" saga that take place directly before and directly after "Rogue One," but there are more links in "Rogue One" to those films than you might think. In fact, the entire plot of "Rogue One" is contained in the first two paragraphs of the opening crawl of "A New Hope," albeit in much-abbreviated form. And there are definitely Easter eggs hidden inside of "Rogue One" that will make a lot more sense with these movies fresh in your mind. We won't spoil them for you here, but keep an eye out.

2. "Catalyst: A Rogue One Story" by James Luceno

This novel came out in November and takes place in the years leading up to "Rogue One." It features two prominent characters from the film, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson). Erso is a brilliant scientist on the verge of a solution for clean, cheap energy for everyone in the galaxy and Krennic, an Imperial officer, is determined to use that research to develop a super-laser for the Death Star. The way the book brings their relationship together made the opening to "Rogue One" that much more emotional and powerful.

3. "The Clone Wars" - The Onderon Arc - Season 5, Episodes 2-5

In "Rogue One," Forest Whitaker plays a character named Saw Gerrera and he figures prominently in the story, as does the training given to him by the Jedi. This arc of "The Clone Wars" animated TV show gives a window into a rebel who is called a freedom fighter or a terrorist, depending on who's doing the talking. These episodes document his training by Darth Vader-to-be Anakin Skywalker and Anakin's padawan apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. He's been fighting for freedom for a long time and "Rogue One" shows that even tangential characters in the "Star Wars" universe can have rich stories.

4. Classic war movies

This is the first "Star Wars" film that is unabashedly a war film. There are many films to go to, but the influence of a certain few is most prominent. "The Dirty Dozen" might be the most front-and-center; it's a 1967 film where a group of misfits are given what seems like a suicide mission to help turn the tide of the war. There are hints of "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "The Guns of Navarone" in "Rogue One," and even accents of "Full Metal Jacket." The war-movie influence is no surprise; at the press conference for the film, director Gareth Edwards said his initial pitches for this film involved images of various wars, from Vietnam to Iraq, with "Star Wars" iconography photoshopped onto it.

5. "Blade Runner"

Blended with the war movie vibe, there are aesthetic choices in the early moments of the film that nod to the dystopian sci-fi classic "Blade Runner." "Blade Runner" and "Star Wars" have always been closely tied, and not just in their use of Harrison Ford. Han Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, appears in "Blade Runner," and some of the ships from "Blade Runner" appear in the prequels. But "Rogue One" manages to take that vibe a step further in a setting for early scenes.