Kevin J. Anderson would be proud.
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS AHEAD*
We’ve known from at least Comic Con that the First Order would be housed at Starkiller base and overseen by Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux. However, while we’ve had rumblings that the base would house some sort of super weapon we had nothing concrete to go by. There were early rumors that the base would have the ability to detect force sensitive individuals throughout the galaxy, but we know have a much better idea of what the Resistance will be up against.
[Update 11/13/15] We’ve updated the “What kind of weapon could that be?” section with information from a recent Entertainment Weekly interview that confirms many of our theories.
So, what’s the deal with Starkiller base?
According to the databank entry on the official site:
“An ice planet converted into a stronghold of the First Order and armed with a fiercely destructive new weapon capable of destroying entire star systems.”
So, when they called the thing Starkiller station they definitely didn’t mean it to be a metaphor.
What kind of weapon could that be?
We honestly don’t know. The simple fact of the matter is that a planet isn’t very mobile; its only movement orbiting its star and spinning on its axis. If it did have a weapon capable of destroying a solar system, it’s hard to imagine a projectile weapon. After all, you’d have to wait for the planet to line up perfectly to fire (which, admittedly, could be a good way to build tension the same way A New Hope needed the Death Star to clear the gas giant Yavin to fire on the Rebel Base) and it would be impossible to hit a target if it were higher or lower on your Y-axis.
Not to mention the travel time of a projectile crossing the galaxy or the calculations needed to make sure it actually hit the target.
However, there’s another possibility: the power of The Force. Perhaps the First Order has found a way to harness the Force (the Dark Side?) in a way that can destroy just about anything. It would fit the title of the film and make sense given the organization seems just fine with employing Force sensitive individuals.
Vader once said “the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant compared to the power of the Force.”
We’re guessing somebody *cough* General Hux *cough* took notes during that meeting.
[Update 11/13/15] In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and General Hux actor Domhnall Gleeson shed some light on Starkiller Base’s capabilities, confirming many of our theories:
J.J. Abrams: “It is very much — and it’s acknowledged as such in the movie — apparently another Death Star,” Abrams says. “But what it’s capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done. Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power.”
“The only thing more devastating than being able to blow apart a whole planet is the power to detonate, say, an entire sun. The title ‘Starkiller Base’ may not only be an homage to George Lucas’s original surname for Luke Skywalker; it could also accurately describe the battle station’s capabilities.”
Is there any weapon in the expanded universe that could let us guess how Starkiller base works?
The closest thing we can equate it to is the sun crusher from Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy. Developed at the same station that gave birth to the Death Star designs, it was a small indestructible fighter that carried energy resonance torpedoes which were capable of triggering a supernova in stars. The resonance torpedoes were also capable of destroying any starship they hit.
How did they defeat the sun crusher?
They sent it into a black hole. So, we’re guessing that’s not an option for taking care of Starkiller base.
How will Starkiller base figure into the plot of the film?
We’re guessing it’ll be very similar to how the Death Star did in A New Hope. We have a theory that the First Order is searching for Poe and BB-8, who know the base’s location in the same way R2-D2 had the blueprints for the Death Star.