With the release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, the Star Wars film franchise began exploring new and exciting stories on the big screen. While one critique against the movie was its tendency to recycle familiar plot points, a brief look through Star Wars history shows that this is nothing new. One of the more interesting uses of plot repetition in the Star Wars franchise is the continued use of incredibly destructive superweapons. Here are a few superweapons that have appeared throughout Star Wars history.
Death Star I and II
The most obvious examples of superweapons are from the original films. The first one to make an appearance is the original Death Star from Star Wars IV: A New Hope. This moon-sized base of destruction is classic and began the trend of superweapons in the franchise. Then, of course, there was the second Death Star that appeared in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. Despite being incomplete for the duration of the film, this space base was more powerful than the first and had a shield to attempt to prevent infiltration from smaller craft. But as any Star Wars fan knows, the shield was shut down, and that superweapon was destroyed as well.
These are the only superweapons in the original six films, and we don’t see any new gigantic, planet-destroying weapons in a theatrically released Star Wars film until The Force Awakens.
Death Star III
What some people may not know is that there was actually a third Death Star. Not only that, but you may have seen it and not realized.
The third Death Star appeared during the Star Tours ride at Disney theme parks. The ride has passengers going on a tour of Endor, the site of the second Death Star’s destruction. During the ride, the “tourists” get caught up in the battle between the Rebel Alliance and forces still loyal to the Empire after the death of the Emperor in Star Wars VI. It is important to note that the events of the ride take place after the film, yet the ride shows a battle over another incomplete Death Star. While most franchises would take this inconsistency and simply ignore it, Star Wars went the extra mile and not only made the events of the Disney amusement park ride canon; they dubbed the Death Star seen during the ride Death Star III to fix this gap in continuity.
This is not the only time the Death Star was reused after the events of Star Wars VI. The book trilogy called The Jedi Academy showed the existence of a prototype Death Star. While technically a completely built prototype, the base was merely the wire framing of the classic spherical structure of the Death Star along with its laser. It was meant as a proof of concept during development to see if a giant base that could also destroy planets could even be built. After it was deemed a success, the Death Star from A New Hope began construction. After several years in mothballs, the prototype Death Star was taken out of retirement to attack the Rebel Alliance, only to be destroyed yet again.
One of the goofier superweapons that appeared in Star Wars was the Darksaber. The Darksaber was even more stripped down than the prototype Death Star, but went even further and ditched the spherical wire framing and only consisted of the laser mechanism. Due to the tube-like design of the superweapon and the solid green beam it projects, the weapon appeared like a giant, flying lightsaber with a green blade.
Unlike the other superweapons on this list, this was built by a Hutt, the same species as Jabba from Return of the Jedi. The weapon was meant to intimidate planets into falling under the thumb of its criminal empire and destroying any planet that didn’t comply. Of course, this was also destroyed by the Rebel Alliance.
The Sun Crusher and the Galaxy Gun
With these final two superweapons, the baddies finally decided to ditch its reliance on the Death Star’s design and come up with brand new superweapons from scratch. These are the Sun Crusher and the Galaxy Gun. The Sun Crusher functions as its name suggests. Instead of simply destroying a planet, the Sun Crusher was capable of destroying an entire sun. This would effectively mean that the population of an entire solar system could be destroyed with one swift stroke. The Galaxy Gun also differed from the Death Star in that the destructive power of the superweapon could be adjusted. In addition to destroying an entire planet, its settings could be lowered to simply destroying a single city on a planet instead.
Another major departure from the norm with the Galaxy Gun is that this superweapon fired a physical projectile, which could reach its target by traveling through hyperspace. Both of these superweapons were much more durable than the usual weapons the heroes had to contend with. The Galaxy Gun was so powerful it could only be destroyed by crashing a ship into it; a ship which could be a superweapon in its own right. On the other hand, the Sun Crusher was indestructible. Luckily it was stolen and ended up in the hands of the good guys, who sent it into a black hole so it could no longer threaten the galaxy.
This is just a sample of the numerous superweapons the heroes of Star Wars have had to contend with. While most of these have been reduced to non-canon, they do show the continued use of overpowered weaponry throughout almost 40 years of Star Wars history.