In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the First Order's weapon Starkiller base was criticized by many for being a retread of the dreaded Death Star - a concept that was used twice in the original trilogy. However, it was actually quite an upgrade for the villains - and not just in its destructive capability. Viewers may recall that the superweapon could wipe out as many as five planets at once, which is what happened when it eliminated the Republic's Hosnian system in Episode VII. The First Order constructed the laser into the actual planet, transforming the world into a mobile command center that could reign terror across the galaxy.
Unfortunately for the villains, Starkiller base ultimately suffered the same fate as its predecessors, being destroyed at the end of the film thanks to the collective efforts of a Resistance forces. It was a great loss for them, but an argument it wasn't as costly as what the Empire suffered following the battles of Yavin and Endor. Apparently, Starkiller base is a more efficient use of resources than either of the Death Stars.
During San Diego Comic-Con 2017, there was a panel that explored the Science of Star Wars. When asked the question of how realistic building a Death Star is, the panelists joked about how an asteroid could be manipulated to blow up a planet. That got Kieran Dickson (of CometTV.com and MGM Studios) going, who explained how the First Order had a better idea than the old Imperials:
"The crazy thing about the Death Star is it's so inefficient. They're hauling all this material up to space to create this giant destructive ball when there are giant destructive ball-type things floating around everywhere. And that's what was a little bit cooler about Starkiller base is that it's a much more efficient to create a ball of death. Just by hollowing out a large moon or asteroid, you've got yourself a readymade base there."
From a certain point of view, what Dickson is saying makes a good deal of sense. Both Death Stars requested an abundance of materials and other resources to construct, all of which went to waste when they were destroyed. Starkiller base was obviously a monumental undertaking, but most of the work had already been done since it was a planet from the Unknown Regions that was repurposed. The First Order built a command center that housed the oscillator and the weapon controls, there was just no need to create a moon-sized object from scratch. Starkiller is seen as the culmination of the Empire's research in kyber crystal technology and dark energy, so in many ways it was the next stage in evolution of massively destructive weapons in the Star Wars galaxy.
As fun as the Starkiller vs. Death Star debate is to have, many moviegoers would be in agreement that it's time for the Lucasfilm story group to move past this story device and introduce something new. Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi seems to be stepping in the right direction by taking the property in fresh directions, so hopefully Colin Trevorrow follows suit in Episode IX and doesn't give the First Order a Starkiller II in his film. Even if Starkiller was theoretically cheaper and more efficient than a Death Star, there are only so many times the good guys can blow it up.
Source: San Diego Comic-Con
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019