By Anthony Breznican
Updated November 13, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: David James/©Lucasfilm 2015

What the hell is THAT?

Along with “Where is Luke Skywalker?” that was one of the first things fans asked when they laid eyes on the giant planet-like weapon hovering in the upper right corner of the official poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Now, we have confirmation from director J.J. Abrams: that is Starkiller Base, the command center for the Imperial remnant known as the First Order.

“It is very much — and it’s acknowledged as such in the movie — apparently another Death Star,” Abrams says. “But what it’s capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done. Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power.”

Exactly what that power it will be revealed in the movie on Dec. 18. But… if we’re going to speculate… *scroll down to the bottom for some mild SPOILER possibilities.

Abrams says it’s only logical that this new generation of Imperial wannabes would consider the failure of their idols to be a lack of ambition. If they’re going to succeed where Darth Vader and the Emperor failed, they’re going to have to demonstrate that they are even more menacing and destructive.

“Evil’s a little bit like a drug,” Abrams says. “It takes more and more of it to have the same effect. And I think the First Order is a really deadly drug.”

That brings us to one of the leaders of The First Order: General Hux, a character who has largely remained in the background in the run-up to The Force Awakens.


Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), who plays the young military leader, says this commander of the First Order is defined by arrogance and contempt. “There’s an air of superiority, and being better than those people around you,” he says. “He’s pretty ruthless. A strong disciplinarian would be a mild way of putting it.”

This galactic junta operates a little like the mafia. You kill your way to the top.

“You don’t get that high up in your life that quickly unless you’re pretty ruthless,” says Gleeson, who’s 32. “You have to put a few people down on the way to get there.” The actor also says Hux doesn’t carry a signature weapon: he has other people to do such dirty work.

What’s the appeal of the First Order to Hux? “It’s in the title: order,” Gleeson says. “It’s a desire to lump everything in its place and just have power. The desire for power is hugely motivating for a lot of people and normally the people who want all the power are not the ones who should have it.”

But what’s the psychology behind such a drive? Why does Hux feel such yearning to exert force over the vast array of beings that populate the galaxy?

“The fear of individuality,” Gleeson says. “People who are messed up themselves often want to squash the individuality out of other people because they’re afraid of what it means.”

Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, a cruel leader of The First Order who craves to show the galaxy his might. (This image was briefly shown at Comic-Con but never released in detail until now.)
| Credit: Lucasfilm

His disdain for idiosyncrasy applies to allies, too. You might assume the cold, calculating General Hux would be on good terms with Kylo Ren, Adam Driver’s emotion-driven, Darth Vader-obsessed enforcer for the First Order. But you’d be wrong.

There is tension in the ranks of the leadership. Consider them… frenemies.

“He’s kind of opposite Kylo Ren,” Gleeson says. “They have their own relationship, which is individual and unusual. One of them is strong in different ways than the other. They’re both vying for power.”

Speaking of power… about that spoiler-ish Starkiller Base speculation:

*The only thing more devastating than being able to blow apart a whole planet is the power to detonate, say, an entire sun. The title “Starkiller Base” may not only be an homage to George Lucas’s original surname for Luke Skywalker; it could also accurately describe the battle station’s capabilities.

And that eerie red sky we see in the trailer right before a large forest gets annihilated? Maybe that’s not the planet blowing up from a direct hit but rather the shockwave from a dying (or murdered) star.

Stars that don’t end their lifecycles in supernovas can become a red giant, consuming everything in their orbit in a colossal, crimson expansion of energy before collapsing again into a white dwarf.

Starkiller Base may not only be a planet-killer, it may be able to trigger such an event and become a destroyer of solar systems.

For more on Star Wars, follow @Breznican.

Friday at Check back for some more news from The Force Awakens.

To continue reading more on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, or buy it here.

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