Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced a new face of evil in the galaxy, the First Order. After the collapse of the Empire following the events of Return of the Jedi, the First Order grew from the remnants of the old Empire.
The remaining Imperials regrouped in secret, building their new order with few remaining resources until they were ready to attack the New Republic. In time, the Imperials fell under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke and his protege Kylo Ren.
When the First Order first appeared in the Star Wars universe, they were shrouded in mystery, but the creative minds behind the new trilogy have revealed much about the history and strategy of the Order. The history following the fall of the Empire led to the rise of the First Order, inspired by real events in world history.
The First Order became a great deal different from the old Empire due to the impractical situation the Imperials were working with, and they have maintained their power base through complex and calculated propaganda and fear tactics.
The Order is much more complicated than the recent movies express, and this secret history of the First Order sheds light on the events of The Force Awakens.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn't Know About The First Order.
15 It claims the Republic committed atrocities
As the First Order raised and trained new members, they indoctrinated them with the glory of the Empire and the First Order and the depravity of the Republic. General Armitage Hux would speak about the various atrocities that the New Republic had supposedly committed.
According to Hux, the New Republic had allowed famines on planets under their control, brutally suppressed the people of Balamak, and left alien advances through the Outer Rim unchecked. Any unrest in the First Order was blamed on New Republic agents.
This propaganda all0wed the First Order to paint themselves as the liberators, the good guys who were trying to free the galaxy from the oppressive, chaotic rule of the New Republic. The New Republic was painted as a terrorist organization that rebelled against the benevolent Empire and gained power.
14 It's base of operations is constantly moved
Supreme Leader Snoke had to employ a number of covert strategies to keep the New Republic from catching up to him with their superior numbers before he was ready to execute his plans. The First Order has no official capital or base of operation, as Snoke constantly moves this base.
Starkiller Base served as an unofficial base of operations for a while, but Snoke himself was not to be found there.
Snoke is presumably operating from a different, constantly moving base that the Resistance has not yet found. This tactic allows him an escape if plans go awry and one base of operations is lost, while also denying the Resistance an opportunity to ferret out his location.
However, The Last Jedi reportedly will introduce Snoke in person, so perhaps his temporary base will soon be found.
13 Kylo Ren's placement in the Order resembled Vader's as a fear tactic
Kylo Ren became Supreme Leader Snoke's right hand man after Snoke recruited him away from Luke Skywalker. Kylo Ren idolizes Darth Vader and wishes to follow in his footsteps, but Snoke also purposefully made Kylo's position in the Order to mirror the position of Darth Vader in the Empire.
Darth Vader was placed outside of the hierarchy of the Empire with separate goals and tactics from the military structure. Kylo Ren is meant to serve the same purpose.
Kylo Ren, like Darth Vader, frequently has conflicts with the military command of the First Order, and his own agenda superseded that of the military.
This hierarchy allows Snoke to keep a tighter reign on the upper ranks of the Order who might otherwise grow complacent or defiant. Since Kylo Ren is not part of the formal command structure, he can inspire fear in even the highest-ranking members of the First Order.
12 The New Republic signed a punishing armistice with the Imperials
The Empire made its last stand in the Battle of Jakku, but their efforts ultimately failed and the Empire dissolved. The remaining Imperial forces retreated, and the New Republic that formed out of the Resistance did not consider it worth the effort to pursue them further. Instead, they officially ended hostilities with the Empire with the Galactic Concordance.
The Galactic Concordance was a punishing armistice for the Empire. The agreement imposed strict disarmament and hefty reparations on the Imperials, which the remaining Imperials considered humiliating.
Thus, the last remnants of the Empire stayed in place, broken and punished, but with plans to regroup and rise again. They remained under the watchful eye of the New Republic, but in time they managed to find ways to subvert the Republic and their strict disarmament rules.
11 It is an alternate history of the Nazis
The First Order seems eerily similar to the Nazis. Their imagery is highly reminiscent of Nazi Germany, including a scene in Force Awakens that mimicked a Nazi propaganda film. Their history is even similar, growing from the ashes of the last war and subject to a greuling armistice agreement.
According to J.J. Abrams, this was entirely intentional. The story was inspired by the ODESSA theory that Nazis fled to Argentina following World War II.
J.J. 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?"
10 It grew by colonizing unexplored sectors
When the last followers of the Empire retreated, they fled to Outer Rim of the galaxy, where they could escape the reach of the Republic. Emperor Palpatine had developed this plan of retreat in the event of his death.
These remote sectors of the Outer Rim contained little population or resources, but the Imperials heavily fortified their last territory. The New Republic ultimately decided the Empire was little threat in its current state, and these remote regions were not worth the cost of continued war.
Once aggressions with the Republic were settled, the Imperials pushed further into the unexplored Unknown Regions, expanding their resources and building their new infrastructure where the Republic could not keep tabs on them.
The Unknown Regions provided the perfect opportunity for the Empire to develop new plans in secret, allowing them to grow into the First Order.
9 Starkiller Base was an ice planet converted into a weapon
The First Order's plan for Starkiller Base grew out of the Imperial push into the Unknown Regions. Starkiller Base itself was an ice planet from the Unknown Regions that was converted into a mobile base that contained a massive superweapon.
The ice planet had unique energy-transmitting kyber crystal deposits, allowing the First Order to easily turn it into a base of operations. Before converting the planet, the Order exterminated any kind of life on the planet that could post a threat to their plans.
Starkiller Base was more ambitious and technologically advanced than either Death Star, as the First Order believed they needed to be more powerful than the fallen Empire in order to succeed.
The Empire had spent years researching dark energy, which they put into effect to make Starkiller Base a successful superweapon.
8 The Senate ignored the First Order until it was too late
Even as the First Order grew in strength, many members of the Senate of the New Republic failed to see the rising threat. The First Order's criminal activities during the rebuilding efforts were exposed, but the Order used criminal proxies so it would be difficult to connect the criminal activity to the Order.
As their proxy criminals became exposed, the Senate ordered an investigation led by Senator Leia Organa, but the connection to the First Order was not uncovered.
When these criminals were taken down, most Senators believed the threat to the New Republic was over. The Senate believed the First Order was still no threat, considering them just a fringe group of loyalists who overexaggerated its own strength.
Leia disagreed with the Senate's complacency about the growing threat of the Order and established the Resistance to prepare for the coming war.
7 It's stormtroopers are trained from birth with propaganda
One of the primary functions of the First Order's heavy propaganda campaign was to train new, loyal Stormtroopers who believed they were fighting for the right side. Stormtroopers grew up with an Imperial version of history that indoctrinated them into believing in the First Order, telling them of the glorious history of the Empire and the terrorism and rebellion of the New Republic.
Imperial veterans would train the Stormtroopers with Order-approved literature and mandatory daily morale sessions.
The Stormtroopers were raised believing only the First Order could free the galaxy from chaos and corruption, and any dissent or betrayal would be dealt with brutally to maintain order. Riot control Stormtroopers were trained to put down any insurrection.
The result of this propaganda campaign was a group of highly loyal Stormtroopers that reacted violently to traitors to the Order.
6 Part of the Senate seceded to join the First Order
Within the Senate of the New Republic, there were those senators who were still loyal to the old Empire and willing to compromise the Republic for their own ends.
The First Order exploited corruption within the Senate to recruit senators with promises of wealth and power, and other Centrist senators admired the Galactic Empire and served as secret agents for the First Order to subvert the Republic from within. Some Centrist senators helped to funnel money into the First Order from criminal activities.
One of these Centrist senators, Lady Carise Sindian, arranged the assassination of Senator Tai-Lin Garr, who opposed the Centrists. Following this assassination, Lady Carise and other Centrists prepared a motion to secede from the New Republic and publicly join the First Order.
5 It was in a cold war with the Republic until Starkiller Base was fired
After the dissolution of the Empire, the First Order and the New Republic entered into a tense Cold War for 29 years. Peace had technically been established through the Galactic Concordance, but the First Order was secretly preparing for hostilities to resume.
In the New Republic, senators who believed the First Order was a legitimate threat fought to increase the Republic's own security and eliminate the First Order.
Senator Leia Organa had been leading this faction, trying to convince the Senate to take the First Order seriously. When these efforts failed, she and other senators founded the Resistance to prepare for war with the First Order.
After several smaller skirmishes, the decades-long Cold War ended when Starkiller Base was fired, destroying the New Republic's capital Hosnian Prime, beginning open warfare with the Resistance.
4 It uses different military tactics from the Empire
The First Order grew in the vacuum left by the Empire, isolated and crippled with only the resources available in the far regions of the Outer Rim. The Galactic Concordance also made it impractical for the First Order to build up an extremely large and noticeable military force.
Instead, the First Order focuses on efficiency, favoring a smaller, but technologically superior military force and using guerilla tactics to achieve their ends.
The First Order's stormtroopers are encouraged to use guerilla warfare tactics, and their training emphasizes improvisation rather than the strict standards of Empire-era training. The Stormtroopers are also better trained and more heavily equipped to make the best use of smaller numbers.
The First Order labored in secret with precise covert actions until they were ready for a decapitating strike on Hosnian Prime, a far cry from the showier tactics of the Empire.
3 It funded crime lords to rebuild
Short on resources in the Unknown Regions, the First Order had to get creative in their methods. They used a proxy militia group to fund crime lord Rinnrivin Di, injecting funds into his operation to turn it into a major crime syndicate.
The profits from the crime syndicate's smuggling and gambling operations were then channeled through shadowy sources back to the First Order to fund their military expansions.
The First Order's association with the Rinnrivin Di's syndicate ultimately hurt them, as Senator Leia Organa exposed the link between the syndicate and the proxy militia the First Order had channeled funds through. Both the syndicate and the militia were destroyed by Republic Forces.
Although there was no concrete evidence to link the First Order to these activities, they did raise Leia's suspicions and lead to the establishment of the Resistance that would interfere with the Order's plans.
2 The Praetorian guards were inspired by ancient warriors
The Last Jedi introduces Supreme Leader Snoke's protectors, the Praetorian guards. These red-clad warriors are an updated version of the crimson guards that protected Emperor Palpatine. The name was taken from the Praetorian guards that protected ancient Roman emperors, but their design took inspiration from samurai warriors.
Director Rian Johnson explained, “The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t. They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action."
"The Praetorians, my brief to [costume designer] Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous," he said.
1 It purged people with Force affinity
After Snoke manipulated Kylo Ren into joining the Dark Side, they embarked on a mission to purge Force users and people with Force affinity.
Kylo Ren and his Knights of Ren destroyed Luke Skywalker's attempt to revive the Jedi Order. After Skywalker's Jedi training efforts had been destroyed, the First Order hunted down others with Force affinity, similar to the Empire's Inquisitorius.
Although the First Order did recruit people who were Force sensitive, they did not use them in the same way the Empire had. The Empire did not employ Sith or Inquisitors that were used particularly during the early days of the Empire during the Jedi purge.
Kylo Ren and his dark side Force users in the Knights of Ren primarily serving this function for the First Order.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Star Wars' First Order? Sound off in the comments!