Even before most fans got a chance to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, they had a sneaking suspicion that the main cast wouldn't be making it out alive. And for the most part, they were right. What some may have not expected is that a lot of the characters who perish during the two hour length of the movie are not finished with this universe by a long shot. It's already well known that Forest Whitaker will return to voice Saw Gerrera in Star Wars Rebels as early as this January. And that Felicity Jones is under contract for one more Star Wars movie, which many believe will be announced as a Luke Skywalker standalone before he was whisked off Tatooine and became part of the Rebel Alliance. Now comes word that Lucasfilm has more planned for international superstar Donnie Yen, who plays Chirrut. But where will this blind monk who is friendly with the force wind up next?
Chirrut is in interesting character in the Star Wars universe in that he's not a Jedi, but he believes in the force and its principles. He also keeps a Kyber crystal in his fighting staff. These crystals more commonly give a Jedi's lightsaber its power. While Chirrut and his best mate Baze could fuel their own spin-off, many are expected that Donnie Yen will be the secret weapon unleashed in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, which takes place roughly ten years before the epic Battle of Scarif.
Chirrut introduces fans to an original concept that has been part of Star Wars lore since George Lucas created this universe way back in the 70s. He is one of the mystical order known as the Guardians of the Whills. We don't get a ton of information about the Whills in Rogue One, but there is enough background in existing Star Wars material that it could make for an interesting standalone movie on its own. And that would even make way for a younger version of Lar San Tekka to play more of a role in the expanding universe. Tekka was portrayed by Max von Sydow in The Force Awakens and is also a Guardian of the Whills.
Donnie Yen has revealed that he worked closely with the Star Wars creative team at Lucasfilm to develop Chirrut as more than just a one-off character. And it was Yen's idea to make Chirrut blind in ode to Zatoichi, the iconic blind Samurai of Japanese cinema. There is an extensive backstory for Chirrut Imwe already in place. Though, Yen is not allowed to discuss what that is, or what it means for future movies at this time. He does say this however.
"That's a backstory actually, we did a lot of back and forth discussions and research between actors, producers, and directors so that is something...it's probably (motions a large book) this thick of materials and research, but I'm not allowed to talk about it."
At the time of Rogue One, the Guardians of the Whills are believed to be mostly extinct, and the spin-off doesn't have much time to explain the greater picture when it comes to this part of the universe. Any further exploration of The Whills in a movie or TV show will surely include Chirrut. The Ancient Order of the Whills was a higher order of beings deeply connected with the Force. They had holy men known as Shamans. It's possible that these Shaman could get hooked up with Han Solo and Chewbacca in their first standalone movie, but that hasn't been discussed at this point in public terms. With Han Solo being the next spin-off, LucasFilm is probably looking for a way to tie in Rogue One, and help further flesh out this part of the galaxy that has been established, with fans eager to learn more about it. There is a familiarity that is being bred between projects, and it gives the overall plan some connective tissue.
Not much is known about Han Solo: A Star Wars Story at the moment. Except that it will star Alden Ehrenreich as the iconic space pirate and smuggle, with Donald Glover portraying a young Lando Calrissian. Emilia Clarke has been cast as the female lead, but her role hasn't been revealed, with some speculating that she may even be playing a female Wookie. As MoviePilot speculates, It's possible that Han Solo's interactions with Chirrut and Baze could lead Solo down the path to calling the Force a 'hokey religion' in A New Hope.