Lest there be any doubt that J.J. Abrams is doing his best to echo the style of the original Star Wars trilogy, there’s no larger example — literally — than the round Death Star-like thing that appears on the official Force Awakens poster.
Fans have wondered what the sphere might be; until now, it’s pretty much been an open secret that it represents a vast new threat called Starkiller base. Now Abrams has finally broken his silence on the subject — revealing that Starkiller is described in the movie as “very much … another Death Star.”
But the First Order, which arose from the ashes of the Empire, is thinking bigger than the Emperor ever did. While the Death Star can destroy planets in an instant — as was so amply demonstrated on Princess Leia‘s homeworld Alderaan — Starkiller destroys another class of galactic object altogether.
Hint: The object of its deadly affections is right there in its name.
“What it’s capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done,” Abrams tells Entertainment Weekly. “Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power.”
It’s also not a million miles away from a superweapon mentioned in several Star Wars novels — now demoted to the non-canonical status of “Legends” — called the Suncrusher.
It makes sense that the First Order would only succeed by trying to outdo the firepower of its predecessor, the Empire. Abrams has an apt analogy: “Evil’s a little bit like a drug,” he tells EW. “It takes more and more of it to have the same effect. And I think the First Order is a really deadly drug.”
Star Wars is a pretty addictive drug, too — and anyone who has mainlined way too much of its history knows that “Starkiller” is also an homage to Luke Starkiller, the original name for Mark Hamill‘s hero. “Skywalker” was only substituted in at the last minute, right before Luke first spoke his name — appropriately enough, to Princess Leia on the Death Star.