The Rebellion overthrew the Empire in Return of the Jedi, but the latter's surviving members didn't take the defeat sitting down. They slowly consolidated power and reorganized as The First Order, and decades later, they pose an immediate threat to the New Republic. While Starkiller Base's destruction in The Force Awakens weakened the organization, their numbers are still strong, and when Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released at the end of the year, it looks like their conflict with The Resistance will be taken to the next level.
According to a new report from Making Star Wars, in the aftermath of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Supreme Leader Snoke has used the loss of Starkiller Base to his advantage, because The First Order is now seen as a true threat. Snoke and his minions are considered to be "maniacal zealots" who should be rightfully feared. The message is clear: The First Order is coming to conquer worlds, leaving those in their crosshairs with two options: "fall in line or resist." Either way, the era of peace is over.
To put all this more succinctly, there's a war coming, and because the Hosnian system was obliterated by Starkiller Base, the New Republic has essentially collapsed. The galaxy has "fallen into disarray," and everyone will be forced to choose a side. The only upside to all this is that General Leia Organa has more allies who agree with her about how The First Order is "the greatest threat to freedom and democracy," and the only course of action left is to take the fight to The First Order.
It was expected that what went down in The Force Awakens would lead to escalation. Hosnian Prime was serving as the New Republic's capital, so its destruction was inevitably going to cripple the government. As for Starkiller Base, even though it was blown up by Poe Dameron, it's not surprising that Snoke was able to twist that setback to his advantage. It's similar to how despite the first Death Star being destroyed in A New Hope, the Empire still had more than enough power to retaliate and force the Rebels back into hiding. Regardless, now that the First Order is fully under the spotlight and the New Republic is hurt, the time is ripe for a new war to rip through a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will approach the conflict between The First Order and The Resistance in two ways. Leia Organa, Finn, Poe Dameron and others will be leading the charge on the military front, with one rumor suggesting that Finn will go on a mission to infiltrate the First Order ranks and sabotage a key installation. On a more personal front, Rey will train in the ways of the Force under Luke Skywalker, which will surely lead to battles against Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader Snoke and the Knights of Ren either in this movie or Episode IX. Even in the Star Wars franchise, history has a habit of repeating itself.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released in theaters on December 15.