J.J. Abrams explains why anyone would still want to join the new Empire in ‘Star Wars’

J.J. Abrams on why anyone would want to join the Empire in “Star Wars.”


Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku and the Emperor are all “Star Wars” characters who turned to the dark side and wound up dead. Coincidence, probably not. At this point in the long history of “Star Wars,” it’s well established that the dark side corrupts almost anyone it touches. So how are there still willing armies lining up to protect offshoots of the nefarious Empire? We asked “Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams why anyone would want to join his new First Order when there’s so much at stake.

The latest addition to the “Star Wars” franchise showcases a new-suited stormtrooper and a whole new empire, now called the First Order. But why join up with the First Order? Doesn’t anyone remember how the Empire blew up an entire planet? How are there still legions willing to pledge their service to this power, in spite of all that lies in its wake?



We took our questions to the director behind the stage at the big D23 expo Anaheim moments after the “Star Wars” presentations ended. Here’s what he said:

The earlier movies, the first movies, things were good and things were bad. The Force was good and the Empire was bad. But now in today we live in a more gray area. I’m curious, 30 years after the fall of the Empire, why would someone want to start a First Order? Why would someone want to associate with the dark side when it’s corrupted everyone that it’s touched?

Exactly, these are the questions aren’t they? Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more. I do think the sort of obvious answer is that the Force has a light side and a dark side. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just that the Force is good, the Force is ... it can be a very dangerous thing. It can be a very seductive thing. I think that the story clearly requires a conflict of some sort. And so if people were rejecting the dark side somehow entirely it would be a hard thing to figure out what we would be up against. It was part of the, what felt like an authentic and true inevitability of what might of happened in the years post “Jedi.”

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Are there people that are Empire deniers? Usually in these fallouts there are these weird groups that arise out of the eventual end of a war?

You mean who makes up the First Order, basically? Is that what you’re asking me? Obviously, you’ll see the movie to understand it, but I will say that the interesting thing for me, is the history of these characters is these films, is the history that we know. So they’re aware of what’s come before. And there are, I would argue, those who feel like what the Empire was doing was righteous and had something not gone wrong, as we all know it did, they probably would have succeeded. And it might be worth trying again.



Sounds like there is still no stopping the allure of the dark side, despite that whole “blowing up Alderaan” thing. Then again, the rebels did wipe out plenty of Empire lives blowing up the Death Star ... twice. So there’s that.

Hopefully this will all be explained in the opening crawl in December, when the movie is released.

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