(Spoilers ahead! Enter at your own risk!)
We’ve known of an Imperial presence in The Force Awakens since we broke the news that John Boyega was a Stormtrooper in the film. Along with this we heard consistent reports of multiple Stormtroopers and very “Imperial”-looking sets from beyond the curtains of the movie, and of course this was entirely correct!
When the first teaser trailer was released on Thanksgiving last year the rumors of an Imperial return were put to rest when we saw Stormtroopers on some type of landing craft. We also saw leaked images beforehand of the new trooper helmets shown off initially by Indie Revolver and then sent from an Apple device at Pinewood. So what were we to make of this? Was this the Empire? Were we going to see a fragmented Empire? Did it really fall from grace at the end of Return Of The Jedi? Well, now we know.
Yesterday we finally had official confirmation out of Star Wars Celebration that these Imperials were part of a newer named faction called “The First Order.” There are no more details on this First Order as of yet, but going off what we know right now it makes a lot of sense.
After Return Of The Jedi many people believed the Empire fell, but the simple truth is the Empire ruled the galaxy; it was the iron fist in control, and although the Emperor was at the helm he was far from the leader. As many people learned from the Tarkin novel the Emperor didn’t really care for his Empire, and he left the charge of that to his governors and moffs who would take control of planetary systems and “keep them in line.”
All of this lines up well with what we believe to be the state of the galaxy post-Return Of The Jedi: for a long time we heard of a never-ending cold war between these Imperials and “The Resistance”(more to come on that later today). The fact of the matter is that when the Emperor and his hand Vader fell, no power or control was automatically lost, just freed up so to speak. This news would have spread far and wide very quickly leading to a brutal and never-ending standoff between Imperials and well, everyone else… What was next?
During the post-Return Of The Jedi era there would have been many scraps for power within Imperial ranks, governors trying to earn the rank of the one who controls the power. However, this may well have gone in a different direction: maybe there was an heir to this so-called throne? Or maybe there was a dark entity waiting in the shadows ready to grasp power?
“The First Order” sounds to me like a re-branding, like someone or something has stepped in and said this is how it is from now on. We’ve heard rumors of Kylo Ren and the general contacting a strange being code-named “Uber” in The Force Awakens–is this the entity in charge? Jason mentioned here that they both seem to check in with this “Uber” and it appears he may well be the leader of the First Order. A first order of what exactly is a mystery as of now, but we do know that this First Order uses Imperial war machines, troops, and signage to represent itself. The First Order looks crude yet clean; I like how it has a prequel aesthetic to armor, and even after many years of war the soldiers pride themselves as the leaders of the galaxy!