Unlike the previous Star Wars movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story didn't feature any Jedi, which made sense. Thanks to Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, most of them were wiped out, and the few that did survive, like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, are in hiding. However, earlier drafts of Rogue One did feature these mystical wielders of the Force directly.
According to the book The Art of Rogue One A Star Wars Story (via ComicBook.com), Jedi were originally supposed to be wandering around in Rogue One mainly in the background, although screenwriter Chris Weitz also mentioned that Jyn Erso's mother, Lyra, was supposed to be a Jedi. However, the production later decided that the movie would be more interesting if it told a story without any Force powers or lightsabers and depicted a "period of broken faith, a galaxy without hope." Weitz continued:
There's despair because the Jedi are gone - and with them, for many, even the memory of the Force. That meant our story could be about normal people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.
Warning: spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are ahead!
Besides Darth Vader's fury at the end, the closest Rogue One came to touching on Jedi and the Force in its finalized form was through two characters: Lyra Erso and Chirrut Îmwe. Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel goes more in-depth with Lyra's belief in the Force, but at the beginning of the movie, she gives the young Jyn a kyber crystal and tells her daughter to trust the Force. Sadly, Lyra was soon killed by Orson Krennic's Imperial goons. Later on in Rogue One, we met Chirrut Îmwe, one of the last Guardians of the Whills. Although Chirrup seemed to be able to sense the Force, he couldn't manipulate it in the same as the Jedi, and his warrior prowess was primarily due honing his senses to compensate for being blind. Towards the end of the movie, Baze also became a Force believer again upon seeing his friend killed, but that renewed faith was short lived, as he was soon gunned down and caught in an explosion on Scairf.
Rogue One designer Doug Chiang echoed Chris Weitz's thoughts later in the book, saying how the movie did enough to tie back into the Force, yet also stand on his own. In his words:
The fact that there's no Jedi is what makes Rogue One so unique. There's beauty in empowering people and in not relying on magic or superpowers. And yet, there's the underlying mythology of the Force that's still pervasive throughout our story. We needed to find those things that could root Rogue One in the middle, because spirituality is such a huge part of Star Wars.
While the main saga Star Wars will continue to follow along with the Jedi (even though their numbers are still small), Rogue One made a refreshing change of pace by focusing on the regular Rebels and other resistance fighters battling the Empire. The next Anthology movie on the way is the Han Solo spinoff, and judging by the smuggler's comments in A New Hope, it doesn't sound like he had any run-ins with the Force in his younger years.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is currently playing in theaters, and click here to read our review of the movie.