The First Order lost its fear-factor

Star Wars: The Last Jedi..First Order hangar..Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. ..© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi..First Order hangar..Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. ..© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. /

The First Order was, at one time, a threatening military organization. By Star Wars: Episode IX, however, it was so insignificant that it became expendable.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans were introduced to a dominant military order with planet-killing capabilities known as the First Order. In Episode VII, the First Order was as sinister as the opening crawl claimed, and its impressive military might struck fear into not only the small Resistance and the rest of the galaxy, but moviegoers as well.

But, by The Rise of Skywalker, the First Order was all but forgotten. It was replaced by the Final Order, a fleet amassed with ships and resources from the time of the Galactic Empire. The First Order became a mere plot fodder and an afterthought of the Sequel Trilogy.

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So, what happened?

When the First Order debuted on the big-screen, they rivaled the Empire in its size and menace. Where the Empire had Imperial Star Destroyers, the First Order had the Finalizer. The Death Star paled in comparison to the Starkiller Base; the former could destroy one planet at a time, where the latter could destroy several at once. In one fell swoop, the New Republic was decimated by Starkiller Base, which left room for the First Order to assume tyrannical rule of the galaxy far, far away.

Although the Resistance destroyed Starkiller Base, it cemented the First Order as a force to be reckoned with, and one that would not be going away for some time. However, then came The Last Jedi.

In the film’s opening sequence, the First Order’s most intimidating ship to date, the Dreadnought, which are described as “fleet killers” by Poe Dameron, was destroyed by a lone bomber, moving without haste nor agility. Not one of the First Order’s countless TIE Fighters could destroy the Resistance’s last of its dozen-or-so B/SF-17s. A single bomber felled the largest ship in any Star Wars movie, stripping the First Order of its fear-factor.

The Empire rebounded from their shocking defeat at the Battle of Yavin with a convincing win in the Battle of Hoth, which reminded the Rebel Alliance and viewers of their overwhelming power. The First Order followed the loss of Starkiller Base with the loss of a Dreadnought and a cat-and-mouse space chase that culminated with another defeat at the Battle of Crait.

The First Order was incapable of winning a single conflict versus the incredibly small Resistance aside from the Battle of Takodana. After that, the military organization’s intimidation rapidly declined until it disappeared altogether in The Rise of Skywalker.

But, it wasn’t overcome by the heroes like the Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi. The First Order wasn’t defeated, just replaced.

Villains used to define Star Wars: Darth Vader, Palpatine, Darth Maul are just some of the great bad guys who struck fear and intimidation into Star Wars characters and audiences alike. The Empire, too, seemed like an unstoppable military might when it was introduced, but, through the Rebellion’s efforts, it proved surmountable. Even so, it took three movies’ worth of struggle and loss, and there was never a time where it seemed definite that the Empire would lose.

There existed no such struggle for the Resistance after Episode VII. There was never a time after the Starkiller Incident where the Resistance seemed incapable of winning. The First Order lost its fear-factor at the start of Episode VIII and ultimately lost itself to insignificance.

Next. The Rise of Skywalker: 3 questions about Palpatine’s return. dark

What did you think of the way the First Order was used?