What does the name of the film ‘Rogue One’ actually mean?
When Rogue One was officially announced we pondered what the title meant as all the Star Wars movie names have some kind of thematic expression of what the movie is about. 'A New Hope' for instance is a reference to Luke Skywalker being the one that could perhaps bring down the Empire.
So what does it mean for this fourth Star Wars prequel?
Is it a military call sign?
Rogue One could easily be first considered as a military call sign that echoes Luke’s Rogue Squadron which was first shown in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke leads Rogue Squadron during the Battle of Hoth. In the wider Star Wars universe, Wedge Antilles featured heavily as the leader of the squad which proved popular and so the legacy of the name has stayed with Star Wars fans.
So at first glance, Rogue One is part reference to that the past legacy of Star Wars and perhaps more so, the Squadron’s attitude of bravery and fearlessness.
A reference to Jyn Erso?
But, if you frame the film's meaning in the light of Jyn Erso as one can for Luke in ANH, Jyn is in fact a rogue one.
The word rogue can be used to describe someone as being a scoundrel or a rascal or a dishonest person or a rebel or a thing out of place from the expected system. We know that Jyn Erso has been under arrest (Hey! Jyn, rebels!) and is only granted her freedom by the Rebel Alliance so that she can do her mission of stealing the Death Star plans.
This concept is very similar to the famous war movie, The Dirty Dozen where the rogues of that movie were sent on a suicide mission in return for their freedom (This is why we think a lot of the characters will die during the movie). So the meaning of Rogue One is that it is a reference to the character of Jyn Erso.
A description of the movie's place in the franchise?
But, as Yoda might say, there is another meaning.
The film’s director Gareth Edward’s offered this meaning of the title which suggests it is descriptive of what kind of movie Rogue One is when compared to the 7 other movies. Edward’s said:
“…this is the first film that’s gone off-piste and is not part of the saga – or the Anakin story – so it’s the ‘rogue’ one, you know?”In reality we think the movie's title is deliberately meant to evoke all three meanings. In that sense, it's really clever - it says nothing, yet everything about the movie.