The sight of the ragtag Rebel fleet dropping out of hyperspace into battle is enough to capture the heart of any five- or 55-year-old Star Wars fan. From Rebels to Return of the Jedi, the Alliance’s motley assortment of ships is a striking visual embodiment of their struggle against the Empire. There is real substance behind those amazing on-screen moments, as the Rebel fleet employs tactics that have deep roots in real world conflict.
Lacking the sledgehammer might of the Imperial Navy, the Alliance was forced to develop tactics tailored to their limited resources. Their strategy placed an emphasis on a force built around a backbone of starfighter superiority. The Rebels’ heavy reliance on starfighters echoes the U.S. Navy’s development of aircraft carrier task forces in World War II, which ushered in a new era of combined arms naval warfare.
I. Breaking Tradition
The Rebel Alliance’s starfighter-centric strategy represented a shift in space warfare. At the time of the Alliance’s formation, the prevailing galactic military strategy prized the power of capital ships over snub fighters. This sentiment traces back to the Clone Wars, where space combat was dominated by large-scale engagements between Republic and Separatist capital ships. Although the Republic made strides in developing effective starfighters like the ARC-170 and the V-wing, capital ships remained the central focus of combat and tactics throughout the war. The mentality that pervaded the Clone Wars is exemplified during the Battle of Coruscant, in which a massive number of capital ships slugged it out toe-to-toe. » Read more..
Rogue One is a story about family; on the surface, it seems to be more the story of a father and daughter, Galen and Jyn. It is the story of a broken relationship, of a failed hero, of forgiveness, and strife. Under the surface, and thanks in part to James Luceno’s Catalyst, we can find another family story: that of Jyn and Lyra. Though Lyra dies at the very beginning of the film, echoes of her reverberate throughout the story.
The primary lens through which Jyn sees the world is through that of a prison. Not hard to imagine, after all she was born in a prison on Vallt. Even her life on Coruscant was, as her mother described it, more compulsory than by choice. After Krennic comes to Lah’mu, taking Galen and killing Lyra, Jyn is forced to hide in a cave. This becomes Jyn’s defining reality for everything that happens later, including her capture on Corulag and her release on Wobani. Even her “rescuers” don’t seem to stay for very long: Krennic becomes overbearing, directly threatening her mother; her mother dies and she hates Galen for going with Krennic; Saw abandons her in the field; and now the Alliance simply wants to use her as a means of getting Galen to the senate. It’s easy to see how being taken forcibly from Wobani (despite the levity K-2 provides), almost coerced into a mission to find Galen, and promised a vague premise of freedom after the mission, would sound less and less desirable (and even comparable to what Krennic offered the Ersos before).
This is where we hear the first echo of Lyra in the film. When Lyra was brought to Coruscant with Galen, she was quick to make her hesitations about working for the Empire known. In order to remove Lyra from Coruscant, Krennic arranges an expedition for her so that she might get out of Galen’s mind and let him continue to work. She takes up the expedition, more for Galen’s sake than for her own. She told Galen how she felt, and she had the opportunity to say something to Has Obitt and Nari Sable as they discover the damage done to legacy worlds. Only seeing the vast damage that the Empire has caused to worlds earmarked for environmental protection could make a neutralist in the Clone Wars into a staunch opponent of the new regime. Lyra is so outspoken about the damage that she attracts the negative attention of Director Krennic, who blatantly threatens her and Jyn. » Read more..
“A Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense; never for attack” – Yoda
The above quote by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back is one of the foundational quotes for understanding how the Jedi were supposed to operate. Gifted with their connection to the Force, which they honed through discipline and training, they were to confine their actions to gaining knowledge and to defending others. If they go on the offensive, they fall prey to the temptations of the dark side.
This idea was a major theme of Return of the Jedi. We see Luke throughout that film wavering between light and dark. While walking into Jabba’s palace and Force choking a couple of guards is a badass move, it’s not the job of a Jedi to be cool and powerful. There’s a reason Luke enters the palace in shadow with a big black cape flowing behind him – will he fall like his father?
Before the Emperor, the times when Luke comes close to falling are when he goes on the attack, goaded by his love of his friends. The Emperor says that his friends will die, and Luke attacks. Note, this is not defending his friends – it won’t stop what is going out there. It is an attempt at revenge. It is simply attack. Likewise, when Vader goads him into attacking, he’s not doing anything to actually protect Leia. Instead, he is acting on his passion. That is why the Emperor cackles, “good” when Luke defeats Vader. Luke hasn’t been acting as a Jedi; he has been on the attack, following his passion, acting without knowledge.
Contrast this with the redemption of Vader, who is returned to the light side of the Force when he acts simply and solely to defend Luke. Vader gains no power by this act. In fact, he suffers. It doesn’t placate his passions (especially as originally scripted without the “noooooo”). He simply is defending Luke. That is the way of a Jedi. » Read more..
Fast starfighters, massive capital ships, and epic battles. These are all elements of the Star Wars saga, most notably in climactic trilogy-ending movies like Revenge of the Sith or Return of the Jedi. This past weekend many of us were treated to what fans are already saying is one of the most epic, most daring, and best-executed fleet battles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In the movie’s climactic third act, we see the first formal engagement of the Alliance Navy against the evil Empire over Scarif. Sharp-eyed fans and Fleet Junkies of every persuasion noticed a lot of ships, both old and new. Yet these ships aren’t included just for visual pleasure or as Easter eggs, they are actually part of a much bigger story that has been weaved together throughout the new canon overseen by the Lucasfilm Story Group. The growth of the Rebel fleet, from its earliest days as a loosely-affiliated collection of rebel cells to the formal Alliance Navy we see in Return of the Jedi, is a story of adversity, daring, courage, and hope. From ragtag cells to a battle-ready fleet, this is the story of that evolution. » Read more..
With the release of its December 2016 solicitations, Marvel ignited a firestorm of speculation. Among its usual Star Wars titles was Star Wars: Classified, a new ongoing series. Given its December launch and the secrecy surrounding the project, fans guessed it could be one of two things: a Rogue One tie-in or a series featuring Darth Vader’s Doctor Aphra.
Now that Darth Vader has concluded, the speculation has been laid to rest. Doctor Aphra, penned by Darth Vader scribe Kieron Gillen, will focus on the not-so-good doctor’s exploits after escaping death at the hands of her former boss.
The news that Aphra will be headlining her own series marks a number of firsts, both for Marvel’s line of Star Wars comics and for the Star Wars franchise as a whole. It’s also a welcome addition to Marvel and Star Wars’ growing number of stories centering on women and people of color.
Aphra’s status as the leading woman of her own series is an exciting prospect, not just for her fans, but also for fans of a growing new expanded universe. Doctor Aphra will be the first ongoing comic series since the reboot to focus on a homegrown comics hero (one not first appearing in the films or TV shows). For fans who cut their teeth on Dark Horse’s stable of original characters, her new series is the first sign that Marvel is willing to step away from the on-screen playground. » Read more..