Star Wars Celebration has revealed the names of two of the major factions in The Force Awakens: the Resistance, who seem to represent the next generation of the Rebel Alliance from the original trilogy, and the First Order, who appear to be the (non-Timothy Zahn) heir to the Empire. But are these the only political entities in the new Star Wars movies? And what’s their relationship to each other?
Complicating matters somewhat is this tidbit from the promotional materials for the upcoming Battlefront game:
Fans who pre-order Star Wars Battlefront will be among the first players to experience the Battle of Jakku, the pivotal moment when the New Republic confronted key Imperial holdouts on a remote desert planet on the Outer Rim. Taking place in the aftermath of the Rebel victory in the Battle of Endor, players will experience the events that created the massive, battle-scarred landscape of Jakku shown in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Unless someone at EA made an error, it does appear that there will be a canonical “New Republic” in the new Star Wars films, or that it did exist at some point in thirty-year period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. But does it still exist in the present? Could the Republic have been corrupted like its predecessor and reverted to tyranny, or merged with the remnants of the Empire in the interests of stability? A “Resistance” makes more sense in that context. Also, note that “First Order” does not imply the presence of an Imperial authority; it may be a technocratic, fascistic bureaucracy along the lines of what we saw in A New Hope minus the mystical trappings of the Emperor and the Sith. Given the clean, streamlined look of the armor and spacecraft seen in the trailers, it’s clearly not a decadent organization, but a lean, disciplined military-industrial dictatorship.
But given the rumors of a “Cold War” storyline, it’s entirely possible that the New Republic still exists, and is a formidable power in its own right. So maybe the Republic and the First Order are two distinct entities, and the Resistance is a rebel faction within the Order’s boundaries with ties to the Republic, much as the French Resistance was completely anti-Axis without being fully part of the Allies. Or, as another parallel, any local insurgency backed by a foreign government. This would certainly play into a Cold War plot, with an emboldened Republic working to undermine a nascent and dangerous rival.
And where do the Sith and the Jedi fall into all this? Based on the trailers, it doesn’t appear that Luke has recreated the Jedi Order — we haven’t seen any knights in action, just characters who may have Force potential. The same is true of the Sith — Kylo Ren does have all the trappings of a dark lord, including a scary mask and a crude-looking red lightsaber, but he appears to be just a pretender to the faith, a sort of cosplayer.
So what do you guys think? We’ve got another eight months to go, and who knows how long before another trailer drops...