It’s been more than 30 years since Return of the Jedi, so there are bound to be some major changes in the Star Wars universe when The Force Awakens drops later this year. One thing we now know is that the two factions formerly known as the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance will be going by different names.

Just a heads up, we’re probably going to veer into potential SPOILERS beyond this point. You’ve been warned.

Star Wars Celebration was yesterday, and a lot of information came out. You’ve already spent a fair amount of time watching that incredible new teaser trailer for The Force Awakens, but there were tons of props and costumes and other things on hand for fans to explore. In their travels, Io9 discovered that the new incarnation of the Empire is called The First Order, while the Rebel Alliance has now been dubbed the Resistance.

At the end of Jedi, the Empire has been dealt a crushing blow. The Death Star is so much space rubble, and with both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader dead, their command structure lies in ruins. On the other hand, the Rebels are surging, having just scored their biggest victory to date. The movie leaves it on a high note and lets people assume that things were going to be awesome from there on out. However, there have been rumblings that, while the Empire has diminished, it’s still out there in some capacity, waiting, biding its time, and that became clear when we saw those stromtroopers massing in front of that sinister new logo.
I’m pretty into the name. The First Order sounds very classic sci-fi pulp, as well as being all kinds of sinister. It calls to mind some kind of militant extremist group hiding in the wilderness, waiting to strike, which, from the sound of it, is essentially what they are. It’s possible that they’ve been waiting for someone to step up and really fill the void left by the deaths of Palpatine and Vader, and maybe that’s finally happened in The Force Awakens.

The First Order is a way cooler name than the Resistance. That side of the coin is rather generic. But maybe this moniker tells us a few things about how successful, or not, the Rebels were post-Jedi. The Resistance isn’t a name you give to a big, stable government that rules a far, far away galaxy. At lot of people expected something like the Galactic Republic from the Star Wars expanded universe to emerge, but it’s starting to look like that may not be the case. Instead of 30 years of peace and prosperity, perhaps it’s been a constant state of struggle and war.

Even though they cut the head off of the proverbial snake, the Empire was still a massive, sprawling enterprise full of power hungry dudes. It’s easy to imagine that in the wake of Return of the Jedi, that it splintered into different cells and factions as new leaders rose and tried to take over. Perhaps that’s where The First Order comes from, and maybe they’re the biggest, baddest kid on the block. Whatever their origins, they obviously have a great deal of resources at their disposal.

Like most things about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we won’t really know what the deal is until we sit down in the theater on December 18 and see for ourselves, but this does give us a lot to think about in the meantime.

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