Star Wars: The Big Difference Between The Empire And The First Order

Say what you will about the evilness of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, but it’s hard to argue that they weren’t a tremendously organized bunch. Throughout the original trilogy they regularly carry out carefully planned missions (albeit with flaws), and their ranks are filled with soldiers who can quickly fall into formation. Justifiably, many of us figured that this would be an element carried over to The First Order in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but apparently that isn’t actually the case. Instead, screenwriters J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan worked to create a bit of contrast in that regard in the upcoming film.

Both Abrams and Kasdan were on stage together during a press conference held for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Los Angeles this afternoon, and revealed that the latest fascist government controlling things in the sci-fi universe is not exactly on top of things quite to the level of the Galactic Empire. Moderator Mindy Kaling asked the filmmakers if the organization of the Dark Side seen in the original trilogy was something that we would see carried over in the new film, and after Abrams confirmed that "one of [their] thoughts was to try and do something a little bit different," Kasdan explained exactly what that means:

That’s why we were so excited about Adam [Driver] playing this part. There’s never been a character like Kylo [Ren] in the saga. And no, he hasn’t got all of his shit together – I would say. And Adam acts it so beautifully, because when you’re looking at him you expect, ‘Oh, this is some evil genius,’ but what you’re getting is all the contradictions and conflict that people feel – that anyone of us could feel at any moment. That’s what’s so amazing about him, and that’s what unique about what Adam has done.

This is surprising to hear, but when you put some thought to it, it definitely makes a good amount of sense. The First Order only took power after a vacuum was created by the collapse of the Empire, and while many involved were part of that fallen group, it’s not hard to believe that their leadership isn’t quite as strong as the duo of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. We don’t know much about Andy Serkis’ Supreme Leader Snoke at this point, but Lawrence Kasdan’s description of Adam Driver definitely paint him as being flawed in the ways Vader was not.

That being said, this news does make me wonder what that will mean for audience’s perception of The First Order. In terms of intimidation, organization was a key factor for the Galactic Empire, and definitely raised the stakes in the story and made us more concerned for the heroes. If The First Order is lacking in that department, they may have to compensate in a different area: use of force. This goes a long way in explaining why they have built a Starkiller Base, which can not only destroy entire planets like a Death Star, but can even wipe out entire star systems.

Once Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives in theaters, one of the talking points will surely be about how The First Order compares to the Galactic Empire, and it’s honestly a conversation we’re incredibly excited to have. December 18th can’t get here soon enough.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.