Star Wars reveals 7 details about the rise of the First Order

The Star Wars sequels have said very little about the First Order, but canon material gradually reveals how that faction came to power.

The origins of the First Order in the era of Star Wars sequels have gradually been unraveled -- not just at the end of the sequel trilogy, but also in various spinoffs and tie-ins. The First Order is the successor state to the Galactic Empire in the current Star Wars canon, but while its military mimics the aesthetic of its predecessor, it's a fundamentally different faction from the Empire. The rise of the First Order, its true purpose, its evolution from an Imperial terrorist organization to a full-fledged military junta, and how it served the undead Emperor Palpatine, all in the current Star Wars canon post-Original Trilogy material explored in.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has often been criticized for relying too heavily on nostalgia from the original trilogy, resulting in a lack of the world-building and scene reconstructions seen in the first Star Wars films. While the film does (for better or worse) return the conflict to the "Rebels vs. Empire" dynamic (so much so that the trilogy often forgets that the Rebels were known as the Resistance during this period), the two warring factions is fundamentally different from the original trilogy counterpart. Here's How the Current Star Wars Canon Explains Rise of the First Order and What differentiates it from Empire.

Palpatine Always Planned For The Empire’s Fall

The seeds of the First Order were planted before the Galactic Empire came to power, as revealed in The Aftermath of Chuck Wendig: Life Debt. Before the start of the Clone Wars, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine recruited Jakku man Gallius Rax to build an observatory on the humble desert world. In the years before and after the rise of the Empire, Palpatine laid the foundation for the First Order under the circumstances of his death. As Palpatine reveals in Aftermath: The End of the Empire, chance events ensured that the Empire would not outlive its Emperor, instead being replaced by a more powerful faction. Palpatine's observatories ensured that the Empire could rebuild in uncharted regions of the galaxy.

The Empire’s Contingency Sowed The First Order

Aftermath Trilogy, Claudia Gray's Lost Star, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars: Squadrons, and Greg Rucka and Marco Ceccheto ( Marco Checchetto's Star Wars: The Shattered Empire explores the year after Palpatine's death at the Battle of Endor. The Contingency following Palpatine's death razed the world to the ground and stripped the ranks of the Imperial Army to ensure only the best and most loyal members survived. Incidents culminated in the Battle of Jakku, where Imperial and New Republic forces clashed as Galius Rax attempted to destroy planet. Rax is betrayed by Rae Sloane, and his attempt to destroy Jakku fails. The fledgling New Republic was victorious, and the surviving Imperials fled to unknown territories.

What Became Of The Empire’s Remnants?

Officially, the Galactic Empire surrendered after the defeat at the Battle of Jakku and was largely demilitarized under the Galactic Compact. As described in The Lost Star, the remaining Imperial factions in the Inner World and the Inner Ring disbanded their stormtroopers and significantly weakened the strength of their remaining Imperial Army and Navy. This last surviving remnant of the Empire stayed within its borders and avoided conflict with the New Republic, even choosing to fight alongside it and form unofficial centrist parties, though this was ultimately a means of maintaining the Imperial ideology within the New Republic.

Unofficially, many Remnant factions of the Empire refuse to abide by the Galactic Compact and continue to wage war on the New Republic, using their respective stormtroopers in addition to their land and naval forces. One such faction, as seen in The Mandalorian, is led by Moff Gideon and operates in the Outer Rim, with relatively little influence from the New Republic. Other remnant factions will also violate Concord Continue to develop their armies, but both end up in unknown territories as members of the First Order. Centrists left the New Republic around 29 ABY to form the political offshoot of the First Order.

Emperor Palpatine’s Survival & Seclusion

Unbeknownst to the galaxy, Emperor Palpatine came back from the dead using a method similar to his legendary continuity counterpart, transferring his consciousness to a crude clone. During his reign in the original trilogy era, Palpatine established cloning laboratories and a vast contingent of his deadliest troops on the nearly forgotten Sith world of Exegol in Territories Unknown. As shown in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Greg Parker's Darth Vader comics, Palpatine's cloning and abandonment experiments not only provided him with a potential Darth Vader replacement and made him The new vessel in which the consciousness inhabits, and is also the leader of the First Order.

How The First Order Gained Its Supreme Leader

The identity and parentage of Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order sparked intense speculation following the release of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. He appears to be a simple carbon copy of Emperor Palpatine, with no explanation as to why he would be such an opponent, which many find unsatisfactory. The opening minutes of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker try to address this by revealing that Snoke is an artificial human created by Palpatine.

The Star Wars canon is based on this, especially in the cosmic books Secrets of the Sith. This suggests that Snoke was created as a potential container for Palpatine, but the process is unstable and he is not a suitable host. Snoke has incredible dark side potential, leading Palpatine to guide him to become the Supreme Leader of the First Order and mentor to Kylo Ren. Neither Snoke nor Kylo Ren is a Sith, the latter leads the Knights of Ren.

How Palpatine Secretly Controlled The First Order

Although Snoke has free will, he is manipulated by Palpatine from a distance, which he does not realize, as published by Pablo Hidalgo, Cole Horton and Dan Zell in 2022 as revealed in The Star Wars Book. Snoke's role as Palpatine's secret puppet ensured that the First Order remained under Palpatine's control, while most of the galaxy believed the infamous Sith Lord was gone forever. Additionally, snooker was crucial to Ben Solo's fall to the dark side and his rechristening as Kylo Ren, the final leader of the Knights. Under Snooker, the First Order weakened against Palpatine's hidden powers on Exegol and a potential new apprentice for the Sith Lord.

What Was The First Order’s True Purpose?

In addition to having Ben Solo as a potential apprentice for Palpatine, the First Order has the New Republic and the Resistance occupy and throw off balance while Palpatine prepares to unleash his Sith Eternal power across the galaxy. Despite their loss to the Rebels, the First Order dealt a severe blow to the New Republic by wiping out the Hosnian system and terrorizing much of the galaxy before Palpatine could unleash his most powerful weapon. However, with Snoke dead and Kylo Ren as Supreme Leader, the First Order served its purpose and quickly merged with the Sith Eternal to create the Final Order and complete the Star Wars sequel-era antagonist story.

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