First Order (Star Wars)

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First Order
Emblem of the First Order
Emblem of the First Order
Universe Star Wars
Type Military dictatorship inspired by the Galactic Empire
Founded After the Battle of Endor
Leader Supreme Leader Snoke
Key people Kylo Ren
General Hux
Captain Phasma
Official language Basic

The First Order is a rump state and military dictatorship in the Star Wars franchise, introduced in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Formed following the fall of the Galactic Empire after the events of Return of the Jedi (1983), the organization has amassed its power in secret over three decades; in The Force Awakens, the First Order is commanded by Supreme Leader Snoke and has begun executing its plan to depose the New Republic and Luke Skywalker to reclaim control of the galaxy. The Knights of Ren are a mysterious group of elite warriors within their ranks, led by Kylo Ren.

Critics and fans have noted the use of imagery highly reminiscent of Nazi Germany for the First Order in The Force Awakens, including a sequence mimicking the 1935 Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. The Force Awakens writer/director J. J. Abrams said that the First Order is inspired by the theory of ODESSA, which involved SS officers allegedly fleeing to Argentina and other countries following World War II.

Description[edit]

Flag of the First Order
Flag of the First Order.png
Use Faction wide banner and ensign
Design Plain dark red banner with a black emblem in the center

Backstory[edit]

According to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary (2015) and the novel Star Wars: Aftermath (2015) by Chuck Wendig, after the Galactic Empire was defeated in Return of the Jedi at the climactic Battle of Endor, thousands of worlds rose up to join the Rebel Alliance and destroy the disorganized Imperials, who fell victim to warlordism. The Alliance formally reorganized itself as the New Republic, and retook the Core Worlds, including the galactic capital Coruscant. One year after Endor, the remaining Imperial Fleet made a final, massive attempt at a counter-offensive which came to a climax at the planet Jakku, the biggest battle in the war since Endor. Ultimately, however, this Imperial counter-offensive was decisively defeated, leaving Jakku littered with debris and crashed ships, the remaining Imperial forces were pushed back to a handful of sectors on the fringe of the Outer Rim, containing only a small fraction of the galaxy's population and industrial base. These sectors were a heavily fortified final redoubt, however, and the New Republic deemed that they posed such little threat that they were not worth the high cost in life that liberating them would require. Therefore, the New Republic made these remnants of the Empire settle for the Galactic Concordance, a humiliating armistice agreement imposing strict disarmament treaties and punishing reparations on the remaining Imperials.[1][2][3]

Over time, the rump state of the old Galactic Empire reorganized itself, becoming a firmly entrenched and isolationist hermit kingdom, and spent the next three decades instigating a "cold war" against the New Republic and gradually rebuilding its military strength, secretly re-arming in violation of its armistice agreements. The vestigial Empire also secretly expanded from its original few sectors (in the galactic north), aggressively pushing into the Unknown Regions (the unexplored swaths of territory in the galactic west) to seize new undeveloped worlds there to supplement their resource base, as well as build new shipyards and industrial infrastructure far away from the eyes of the New Republic.

The 2016 novel Star Wars: Bloodline explained how the remnants of the Empire officially reorganized into the "First Order" - and that this final transition only occurred about six years before The Force Awakens. By that time, the New Republic Senate had become divided into two parties: the Populists led by Leia Organa, who wanted to decentralize authority, and the Centrists, who wanted power to remain concentrated in a strong central government. Many of the Centrists were former Imperials who admired the old Empire for bringing order to the galaxy, and who feared that without strong central control the New Republic would become as weak and ineffectual as the Old Republic. Ultimately, many Centrist worlds seceded from the New Republic to reunite with the holdout Imperial remnants on the fringe of the galaxy, and formally combined into a new government called "the First Order". First Order conspirators also publicly revealed that Leia was in fact the daughter of Darth Vader, severely harming her political standing among the remaining Populists.[4]

The vast majority of the New Republic's worlds remained intact, but with the exodus of the Centrists its Senate became dominated by the remaining Populists, who favored decentralization and demilitarization, not confrontation. Even after these events, most in the remaining Senate were happy to see the Centrists go, feeling that the new First Order still controlled far too few sectors of the galaxy to ever pose a serious threat to galactic peace; in their view, it was easier to just let the Centrist worlds peacefully leave of their own volition and rejoin the Imperial worlds rather than fight a war to keep them by force.

The formation of the First Order when the old Imperial remnants annexes the Centrist worlds (and the New Republic's lack of reaction to this increasing threat) are apparently a reference to the real life inaction of the Western powers when Nazi Germany annexed Austria and the subsequent Munich Agreement letting Germany annex Sudetenland, both in 1938. According to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, a reference to this is in the name of the current Chancellor of the New Republic: "Lanever Villecham", which is a play on words for "Neville Chamberlain" (La-nev-er Ville-Cham), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1938, who famously proclaimed that giving the Nazis what they wanted in the Munich Agreement assured "peace in our time". Villecham is seen briefly in the final version of The Force Awakens but is not identified by name: more scenes with him and the Senate were filmed but deleted for time and pacing reasons.[1]

Through as-yet-unexplained circumstances, the new "First Order" came to be ruled by the mysterious Force-wielder known as Supreme Leader Snoke, at some point Snoke seduced Leia's own son Ben Solo to the Dark Side of the Force, at which the remaining Jedi apprentices at his uncle Luke Skywalker's new academy were slaughtered. Blaming himself, Luke fled into self-imposed exile to search for the ancient first Jedi Temple. Kylo Ren, meanwhile, took on a position as Snoke's right hand within the First Order's military.

With her political standing severely weakened, and the New Republic Senate gridlocked and unwilling to recognize the First Order's military buildup, Leia Organa decides to withdraw and form her own small private army, known as the Resistance, to fight the First Order within its own borders, she is joined by other members of the former Rebel Alliance such as Admiral Ackbar. Publicly the New Republic continues to disavow direct association with the Resistance to maintain plausible deniability, and though the majority of the Senate does not want to intervene against the First Order, several Senators privately channel funds and resources to the Resistance, this state of affairs continued on for the next six years until the events of The Force Awakens.[1][2] Comic book writer Charles Soule, creator of the 2015 Marvel Comics series Star Wars: Poe Dameron, explained that immediately prior to the events of The Force Awakens, "The New Republic and the First Order are in a position of detente, and while there have been a few small skirmishes between the Resistance and the First Order, it's very much a sort of cold war."[5]

Military[edit]

The First Order's handful of sectors simply do not possess the galaxy-wide resources the old Empire used to be able to draw upon, and in addition the armistice treaties with the New Republic put strict limitations on how many ships it could physically build. Therefore, unlike the old Galactic Empire's swarm tactics, the First Order's military has had to adapt to a more "quality over quantity" philosophy, making efficient use of what few resources it has.

Star Destroyers[edit]

The First Order lacked the resources to build and crew thousands of star destroyers, with a naval doctrine that accepted the renewed importance of starfighters within their overall strategy, the Resurgent-class adopted the carrier-centric designs of the Galactic Republic's Venator-class Star Destroyer. While its fleet is a fraction of the size of the Imperial Fleet at its height, on a one-for-one basis its new ships are much more powerful; in addition to this they also boast thirty years' worth of advances in military technologies compared to the old Empire. As a result, the First Order now deploys starships such as the new Resurgent-class Star Destroyer, nearly twice as large as the old Imperial-class Star Destroyer which it replaced as the mainstay of the First Order fleet, the First Order's TIE fighters, designated TIE/fo, are also more advanced than the old Empire's TIE/ln model, and show greater concern for unit stamina and survivability. The First Order's Special Forces also use a more heavily armed two-man TIE/sf variant.[1]

Stormtroopers[edit]

The First Order also employs this quality-over-quantity philosophy with its soldiers and personnel. Unable to conscript trillions of soldiers to fill its Stormtrooper ranks, yet unwilling to switch back to using a rapidly produced clone army (like the original Stormtroopers at the end of the Clone Wars), First Order Stormtroopers are trained from birth, raised their entire lives for no other purpose. First Order soldiers and crews have constantly trained for combat in war games and simulations, making them much more effective one-on-one than the endless waves of Stormtrooper conscripts fielded by the old Empire. First Order Stormtroopers are regularly put through mental indoctrination and propaganda programs, to make sure that they remain fanatically loyal and never hesitate or question orders. Being taken from their families at birth, these soldiers are not even given individual names for themselves but merely serial numbers, such as "FN-2187".[1]

Appearances[edit]

The Force Awakens (2015)[edit]

In the film, the First Order is led by a mysterious figure named Snoke, who has assumed the title of Supreme Leader.[3] Like the Empire before them, the Order commands a vast force of stormtroopers, some specially trained in the use of flamethrowers, man portable light artillery systems, and riot control gear.[6][7] The First Order also utilizes regular and Special Forces versions of the Empire's venerable TIE fighter,[8] its primary base of operations is Starkiller Base,[9] a fortified ice planet which houses a superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems from a great distance.[6] The base commander of Starkiller is General Hux, a ruthless young officer dedicated to the Order.[10]

Snoke is a powerful figure in the dark side of the Force and has corrupted Ben, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa who had been an apprentice to his uncle, the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Masked and using the name Kylo Ren, he is one of Snoke's enforcers, much like his grandfather Darth Vader had been the enforcer of Emperor Palpatine during the days of the Empire decades earlier. Kylo is the master of the Knights of Ren, a mysterious group of elite warriors.[11][12] Kylo and Hux are rivals for Snoke's approval,[13] and the third member of the "commanding triumvirate" of the First Order is the formidable Captain Phasma, the commander of the stormtroopers.[14]

Kylo is searching for Luke, who vanished some years earlier. Snoke believes that as long as Luke lives, a new generation of Jedi Knights can rise again, the First Order destroys Hosnian Prime, the New Republic's current capital world, using the Starkiller superweapon. Kylo fails to retrieve the map fragment that would lead him to Luke, and the Resistance manages to destroy the Starkiller Base moments before it is able to fire on the Resistance base on D'Qar, though Kylo and General Hux are able to escape the explosion.

Reception[edit]

Robbie Collin of The Telegraph described the disfigured and skeletal Snoke as a "sepulchral horror".[15] The newspaper also called Hux "a spitting fanatic of the First Order whose every gesture speaks of utter contempt for, well, everyone".[13]

Comparisons to Nazi Germany and ODESSA[edit]

Critics and fans have noted the use of imagery highly reminiscent of Nazi Germany for the First Order in The Force Awakens, including a sequence mimicking the 1935 Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.[16][17] The Force Awakens writer/director J. J. Abrams said that the First Order is inspired by the theory of ODESSA, which involved SS officers allegedly fleeing to Argentina and other countries following World War II.[18] Abrams explained:

That all came out of conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again? What could be born of that? Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn't get done?[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hidalgo, Pablo (2015). Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary. New York, N.Y.: DK. ISBN 978-1-4654-3816-4. 
  2. ^ a b Wendig, Chuck (2015). Star Wars: Aftermath. Del Rey Books. ISBN 978-0-345-51162-1. 
  3. ^ a b "Databank: The First Order". StarWars.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ Star Wars: Bloodline
  5. ^ Richards, Dave (February 29, 2016). "Soule & Noto Fill In Poe Dameron's Pre-Star Wars: The Force Awakens History". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved July 28, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Keyes, Rob (September 4, 2015). "Star Wars 7: The First Order's Superweapon Eclipses The Death Stars". Screen Rant. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Databank: First Order Riot Control Stormtroopers". StarWars.com. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Databank: First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter". StarWars.com. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  9. ^ De Semlyen, Phil (November 26, 2015). "Exclusive: Empire reveals names of new Star Wars planets". Empire. Retrieved November 28, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Databank: General Hux". StarWars.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  11. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (August 25, 2015). "Star Wars 7: Kylo Ren & The First Order Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ Saavedra, John (December 17, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Easter Eggs and Reference Guide (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and the Knights of Ren)". Den of Geek. Retrieved December 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "14 things Star Wars fans will love about The Force Awakens". The Telegraph. December 17, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Databank: Captain Phasma". StarWars.com. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ Collin, Robbie (December 18, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens review: 'the magic is back'". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  16. ^ "In new Star Wars, echoes of famous films, including Nazi propaganda". The Times of Israel. December 17, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  17. ^ Robins, James (December 17, 2015). "Film review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Dyer, James (August 25, 2015). "JJ Abrams Spills Details On Kylo Ren". Empire Online. Retrieved December 18, 2015. 

External links[edit]