Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilers: The First Order, The Resistance And The Republic Explained

  • Science Fiction
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally almost here! Lucasfilm/Disney

Here’s my biggest problem with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (spoilers for the movie lightly peppered throughout): It doesn’t explain enough. J. J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan would say that it leaves a lot to the imagination; I would say it doesn’t give us enough groundwork for that… especially when it comes to the political situation thirty years after the Battle of Endor. But it’s not really a mystery. The novelization of The Force Awakens explains all these things, and apparently the movie did too, but a lot of the details were left on the cutting room floor. Well, I’m here for ya. I’ll explain the whole deal with the First Order, the Resistance and the Republic, as recounted by the novelization of The Force Awakens and, of course, Wookieepedia.

The First Order, The Resistance And The Republic Explained




The New Republic


If you saw The Force Awakens and didn’t read any ancillary material—you know, the way basically everyone does these things—you’d think that the Rebellion never really got anywhere after the Battle of Endor and was in pretty bad shape. According to the book, nothing could be further from the truth. When The Force Awakens begins, the New Republic is actually the most powerful and dominant force in the Galaxy. After the Battle of Endor, the Empire went on the retreat, and at the Battle of Jakku, a large part of its remaining fleet was destroyed—resulting in that crashed Star Destroyer on the planet. A month later, the Empire and the former Rebellion, now the New Republic, signed the Galactic Concordance, ending the war.

After the war, the Empire was left as a rump state, with the majority of the galaxy under the hands of the Republic. However, as the war ended, a large portion of the remaining Imperial Fleet left the known reaches of the galaxy for the Unknown Regions. The Republic, led by Mon Mothma, proceeded to largely demilitarize in an effort to return to the status quo and restore normalcy to the galaxy.



The First Order


So those ships that jumped into the Unknown Regions about 29 years ago? That’s the heart of the First Order. We don’t know exactly what they were up to off there on the edge of the galaxy, but it definitely involved regrouping, marshalling their forces, reestablishing an Imperial-style state out there… and making plans for taking down the Republic. Plus, you know, building Starkiller Base and all that. When The Force Awakens starts, the First Order has just recently emerged into the known regions of the Galaxy. If you’re watching the movie, you might think they control most of the galaxy. Nope. They are, in fact, a brand new power, with little territory, and seemingly representing little threat to the Republic. Of course, events in the film proved otherwise.



The Resistance


The Republic saw no threat from the First Order, thinking them just yet another of a variety of splinter factions of the old Empire… a nuisance, not a real threat. Besides, the Republic had demilitarized: They didn’t have the forces to deal with a major insurgency by a powerful new force. The Republic has become complacent. But not everybody has: Some powerful figures, most notably Leia Organa, were indeed very concerned about the First Order. She and others left the Republic to form the Resistance in areas subject to threat from the First Order. Without official sanction from the government, they fought with limited resources against the upstart Empire wannabes. Think of the Resistance like the U.S. fighter pilots who fought with Britain against the Nazis in World War II, before the U.S. entered the war. They didn’t have official sanction, but they were doing what was right, and holding the enemy at bay.

All of this stuff is canon, coming from either The Force Awakens novelization or other canonical sources (and of course, let me know in the comments if I got any details wrong). It’s just a shame that none of the political background is in the movie, and it makes The Force Awakens hard to understand. It doesn’t need this much, but the key point is: The First Order doesn’t control much of the galaxy. They hope to be heirs to the Empire, and they are in terms of ideology, but the true force in the galaxy at the beginning of The Force Awakens is the New Republic. The Resistance simply hopes to check the First Order’s rise.

And if you’ve seen the movie, you know that things will play out very differently from here on out.

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