The Death Star Destroyed the Empire

The First Death Star, or DS1, was one of the most impressive technological and logistical feats of the Empire. However, for several reasons—some of which took effect before the Death Star was even destroyed—this colossal construction helped weaken and eventually devastate the government it was built to protect. Here’s 3 reasons why:

  1. Shattered Ideology:

Tarkin & Vader

Perhaps the most important problem with the Death Star was that it implemented an ideology that was crucial to the Empire’s survival: the Tarkin Doctrine. This doctrine was summed up by Grand Moff Tarkin himself: “Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.”

Essentially, the principle taught by Tarkin and exercised by the Empire was that, in building a weapon so terrifying, one would rarely have to use it. However, the counterargument is that building such a weapon would terrify citizens to the point of rebellion—that they would rather fight against this space station instead of cowering under it. Princess Leia summarizes the results of this effect when she states, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

However, the Empire removes any debate on this subject by enacting its ideology. It destroys the planet Alderaan and, according to Tarkin, will then destroy the Rebellion in “one, swift stroke.” His assumption is that the demonstration of the DS1 has permanently eliminated any other faction’s resistance against the Empire.

That assumption couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Almost immediately after the Death Star’s display, it’s actually destroyed by the Rebellion—showing to the public that the Tarkin Doctrine clearly did not work. Fear brought about desperation, not conformity, in the Rebels, and this desperation backlashed horribly against the Empire, killing the very man for which the core ideology behind the Death Star was named.

  1. Wasted Resources:

Shooting Alderaan

The Death Star was built on a scale that was absolutely unnecessary, and calculations aren’t even required to understand this. The main purpose of the Death Star was to frighten enemies by destroying any opponents on a planet, but it didn’t just destroy all life on Alderaan in Episode 4—it annihilated the globe. This kind of firepower wasn’t necessary. An asteroid that destroys all major lifeforms on Earth wouldn’t need to make the entire planet explode; it would only need to send a powerful shockwave across the surface. And even if the Empire wanted a superlaser to melt everything on the surface, remove the atmosphere, and ravage the crust, it still wouldn’t need nearly any of the power it took for the Death Star to instantly disintegrate Alderaan.

Because the Death Star was ludicrously overpowered, this space station only served as a public demonstration of the Empire’s tactical redundancy; a much smaller yet equally terrifying station could have been built, yet they attempted to flaunt this gaudy overcompensation as a sign of the Empire’s brilliance—in a way that would only make the galactic population more appalled at their government’s insanity. Then, when the Death Star was destroyed in the Battle of Yavin, its loss of 2 million civilians and hundreds of thousands of pilots and Stormtroopers (along with several Admirals and of course, the highest-ranking Imperial officer, Grand Moff Tarkin) made it appear especially foolish, and showed once again how the Empire was completely misusing valuable resources in this war over the galaxy.

  1. Betrayed Supporters:

Imperial Gunner

The destruction of Alderaan also shows a betrayal against another core ideal of the Empire: the Human High Culture, an idea praising humans that (while also explicitly stated in the Legends EU) is heavily hinted at in the films through the Nazi-esque structure of the Empire’s army and the fact that all their officers are human. However, in the case of Alderaan, the Empire no longer treated humans like first-class citizens. All of them, regardless of species and Imperial status, were destroyed. This entrenched a feeling of betrayal within those humans who were once considered special under the superweapon’s grip.

The Death Star didn’t just scare off humans, however; it also shocked its own soldiers.  In the (now Legends) novel Death Star, (SPOILERS AHEAD for Death Star) it’s described that soldiers aboard the Death Star think of the destruction of Alderaan as “evil beyond comprehension” (295). The gunner of the superweapon itself loathes himself and knows that “the dead would haunt him, forever” because he took part in the destruction of this planet (326). Several Imperial soldiers and citizens defect to the Rebellion because of the destruction this space station creates. And in the canon Lost Stars novel, some wonder in bewilderment and disgust why the Empire would ever attempt to use or replicate such a device. The entirety of the galaxy, including the Imperials, see that the Empire isn’t just using fear against its enemies, but mercilessly utilizing superweapons against its own planets. This realization undoubtedly brought many sympathizers to the Rebels.

From the misuse of fear, to the waste of resources, to the betrayal of its own people, the Death Star made the Empire’s war doubtable in the eyes of the galaxy—adding to Rebel sympathizers, suppliers, and supporters. Eventually, each of these problems surfaced again when the Empire attempted to expand its flimsy façade of power in constructing the second Death Star—once again showing how the Death Star helped begin the Empire’s demise before it was even destroyed.

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Luke Skywalker Is Way More Awesome Than You Thought

In a lot of discussions and forums, the way I see people speak of Luke Skywalker is usually with some form of disdainful tolerance, or a tone of “He’s alright, but this other character is so much cooler.” There’s also a Buzzfeed article explaining why Luke’s the “absolute worst.” But the people who criticize Luke haven’t considered all the reasons he’s actually a soundly crafted character:

 

  1. He makes mistakes.

Luke Burning homestead

In A New Hope, Luke is designed to look weak. The film is a modified form of the Hero’s Journey, and that journey involves a weak character growing into a strong one.

This weakness doesn’t just fulfill a story type, however; it actually makes us understand who Luke is and care about him. The poorly thought-out Buzzfeed article points out some of his valid weaknesses (among other completely useless details) as though they make the audience hate him, but some of what Luke does actually makes us relate: he’s a just a restless kid with little to look forward to. He’s beat up, saved by an old man, and then he just complains about his mind-numbing tasks that he’ll have to do for the rest of his life.

Like a lot of people, Luke’s made some stupid mistakes and has a rather dim future, but he wants something more. His hope to join something useful, to have a purpose and an adventure, is a pretty universal desire. Seeing him play with a model of a ship shouldn’t make us scoff—it should make us realize that we’re a lot like Luke, just finding some kind of menial entertainment when we really want a powerful, useful journey to go on. Seeing this flawed farmboy helps us root for him to succeed in becoming something greater, and it sets a stark contrast against his former self when he finally does.

 

  1. He grows up.

Luke with Vader

Episode IV to Episode VI actually involves a huge transformation for Luke. Several facets of his character mature, and it’s impressive in how many ways Luke advances without the audience even recognizing it:

 

Skill:

This is perhaps the most obvious of growths, but Luke used to only be a farmboy who could shoot rats from his T-16—by the time he’s on the second Death Star, he’s destroyed the second largest space station ever constructed, helped bring down one of the greatest crime lords in the galaxy, and become the last Jedi Master to survive the Empire. Shortly after all these accomplishments, Luke single-handedly defeats Darth Vader and manages to convince this same man, the personal servant of Emperor Palpatine, to join his side.

Temperament:

In A New Hope, Luke not only whined about his own struggles—he repeatedly ridiculed Han’s personal ship, and he panicked whenever they were in trouble. By Return of the Jedi, he stops panicking and ridiculing, and actually does the opposite—he’s the one comforting a blinded Han, arguing with Darth Vader, and chuckling when they’re captured by a tribe of weapon-laden Ewoks. Even when he’s traveling in the Tydirium shuttle, just past Darth Vader, he informs the crew that Vader knows he’s on the ship—and while everyone else glances nervously to him and denies his assertion, he just stares calmly back at the approaching Star Destroyer, completely in charge of himself.

Motives:

Luke used to just seek out adventure (and possibly revenge) because of everything that happened on Tatooine. But by the Battle of Endor, he’s made sacrifices and risked himself to confirm other’s safety—he abandons his training to save Han and Leia on Bespin, returns to Tatooine to rescue Han, and even seeks out Vader himself to convince him that he’s redeemable. Luke hardly even has a plan when he turns himself in to the Imperials on Endor—all he means to do is speak to his father and convert him, knowing full well that, if he fails, he’ll undoubtedly be destroyed.

Understanding:

This is arguably the most extensive expansions of Luke’s character. Gone is the farmboy that knew the evil of the Empire and the beauty of the innocent Jedi; throughout Episode VI, we see Luke less and less pacified by broad strokes of good and evil. He’s disillusioned from Kenobi’s minced words, he chokes two Gamorrean guards without warning, and he chops off his father’s hand before regaining control of himself, all the while veering closer to the dark side. Luke’s no longer waltzing around with a clear understanding of good guys and bad guys, but actually showing inner conflict and empathy towards his enemies.

There are even cinematic clues showing this development in understanding. In Return of the Jedi, just as Vader discovers Luke has a sister, the Jedi stands at a point where light strikes half of his face and shadow covers the other half—representing the calls from both sides of the Force. Not only does the lighting in this one scene represent an inner conflict, but Luke’s costumes throughout the trilogy also represent his leaning away from a romanticized hero: in Episode 4, he generally wears white, signifying his innocence and pureness. By Episode 5, it’s darker whites and grays, showing he’s maturing and his morality possibly darkening. By Episode 6, Luke is fully clad in black, the colors of Vader and the dark side—until he’s fully resisted the Emperor and removes Vader’s mask, at which point his outer jacket has opened to reveal a white cloth just over his heart. From costume and lighting to action and dialogue, we can see that Luke grows throughout the Original Trilogy to become a man conflicted with the complex subtleties of what is morally right and wrong.

 

All of these shifts in character reflect a realistic and impressive character growth. Luke goes from an immature boy to a powerful, confident, motivated, and questionable hero. Critics can decry his mistakes or stupid actions, but they can’t deny that, by the end, he becomes an incredibly written, deeply layered character.

 

  1. He just keeps getting better. (SPOILERS to The Force Awakens ahead)

Luke Awesome Stare

Whether examining the “Legends” or the canon stories, it’s clear that Luke’s still expanding into a better character.

In the Expanded Universe, Luke undergoes a number of feats that I won’t detail here, because that would require choosing which of his many glorious moments are the most powerful. But in many of the novels, he’s an even wiser and deeper character, questioning the morality of both his own organization and his enemies with equal veracity. Take a look at the Thrawn Trilogy if you want to see what I mean.

Yet now, in the Force Awakens, the little I’ve seen of Luke is almost superior to the thousands of pages I’ve read before. That one last glimpse, that forlorn expression of his, won’t get out of my head for years. Whenever we see more of him and understand what happened, I’m confident it’ll only add to the many layers of this already incredible character.

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Rogue One Could Be the Best Star Wars Movie Ever

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first “Anthology” film for Star Wars, and it’s coming out this year. Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why it could be the best Star Wars film ever released:

  1. Character Focus.

What will you become

One unique aspect of Rogue One is the fact that it has to focus on characters. The end of the plot is already well known: the Rebels eventually get the plans. Therefore, the main source of tension for the story will have to be the mystery of who survives—the audience will be waiting to see what happens to the characters, not the plans. The writers of the story, then, have to focus on making the audience care for these characters.

This sets Rogue One well apart from the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens; while those movies have great characters, they have to concentrate on setting tension for the plot’s outcome—producing scenes that don’t offer much insight on a character or increase their likeability, like the debriefings about the Death Star or Starkiller Base. But Rogue One will have much more time to focus on the characters instead of the story that we already know.

Admittedly, we already knew the outcome of the Prequel Trilogy before it started, but those movies were attempting to set up a contrast with the Darth Vader we once knew. Instead of developing a more complex character the audience would sympathize with, Anakin Skywalker was simply displayed as an innocent child so we’d be traumatized by his transformation. However, the writers for Rogue One know they can’t just set up a character for contrast—they’ll actually focus on creating a deep, complex character that the audience cares about, and they’ll have more time to do it than any other Star Wars film has ever had.

  1. Polished Nostalgia.

Spec-Ops

One of the most exciting things about this movie is that we’re returning to the same time period as the Original Trilogy. The film will be set immediately before A New Hope—not twenty years before or thirty years after. So we’re going to see a lot of things (AT-ATs, Stormtroopers, an imminent “major-weapons test”) that we loved in those old movies, resurrecting nostalgia from nearly forty years ago for some. From the gritty feel of the Rebellion to the polished armor of the classic Stormtroopers, a lot of pieces in this film will remind us of all the things we already love about this galaxy. And this film will only add to those reminders with details like new “Spec-ops” black troopers and fresh visual effects.

But it’s not just the Stormtroopers and the Empire-Rebellion conflict that are going to return. Eventually, at some point in this film, they have to bring back the most renowned character in the entire franchise—Darth Vader. He’ll make an appearance with the same motive from Episode IV—relocating the Death Star plans—but he’ll look better than ever before. His choreography and appearance will be far more elegant than in A New Hope, and his character will be far more fearsome than in Revenge of the Sith. So, in Rogue One, we can plan on hearing of his ominous reputation, fearing his ever-nearing presence, and then, finally, watching him massacre the Rebels who dare defy him—all in an up-to-date, yet true-to-form image that we’ve never seen Vader in before. It’s got to happen, and when it does, it might just be the most terrifying scene of all the Star Wars movies.

  1. Creative Freedom.

Donnie Yen

Another thing that sets Rogue One apart from the rest of the Star Wars films is its enormous creative freedom; this film can focus on any and every aspect of the incredibly rich Star Wars galaxy. All of the other films have had huge precedents to follow; they must be about the Force, they must focus on a large-scale conflict in the galaxy, and they must detail the fight between groups of clearly-defined good and evil.

Rogue One isn’t restricted in any of these ways. It can focus on a few Force-free Rebels, it can hone in on their struggles in an undercover mission, and it can completely blur the lines between good and evil. Several spinoffs in the Star Wars franchise had little to do with the fate of the entire galaxy or the Force-abilities of their characters yet succeeded anyway: the game Bounty Hunter, the novel Death Star, and the various merchandise for Republic Commando were all successful without focusing on those facets so common to the normal films. Rogue One, like them, can claim success through concentrating on a particular aspect of the Star Wars galaxy without having to pay homage to the demanded themes of the other movies.

Along with this freedom from particular themes, Rogue One has more flexibility in other aspects of film. Alexander Desplat, who composed scores for movies like The King’s Speech and The Grand Budapest Hotel, is supposedly taking over the soundtrack for this film instead of the usual John Williams. While this might disappoint some of Williams’ loyalists, it also offers opportunities for some freshly devised themes and more creativity than other films have had. And Donnie Yen (renowned martial artist and the actor for Ip Man) will be fighting in the film, but instead of a lightsaber for melee combat he’s wielding some kind of bowstaff. Instead of sticking to the lightsaber-wielding Force-user common to all other Star Wars films, Donnie is bringing about a form of combat unique to the usual array of lightsabers and blasters. We’ll have to wait and see, but even now we already know that Rogue One is going to break out of the normal barriers other Star Wars films have been restrained by.

AT-AT

This film will be completely different from all the other Star Wars movies. It has to produce amazing characters, enhance the things we love about the old films, and utilize its newfound freedom in all the facets that the other films have been restricted in. These distinctive characteristics could set apart Rogue One to become the greatest Star Wars movie ever.

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