Echoes of the past threaten the future of the Resistance in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars sequel…
Ask any Star Wars fan about their favourite film in the saga and the majority will point to the all-time classic that is Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
The fifth instalment in the franchise, was a collaborative masterpiece of movie making from writer Lawrence Kasdan, creator George Lucas and director Irvin Kershner. Together, with a stunning soundtrack composed by the legendary John Williams, the fans of the saga were treated to one of the finest movies to ever grace the silver screen. The movie boasted many new elements that would go on to capture the hearts of an entire generation, and two of the most profound were the Imperial AT-AT Walkers and Darth Vader’s dreaded Super Star Destroyer.
The iconic AT-AT Walker and the Executor Super Star Destroyer (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm)
For decades, the fans have speculated about the evolution of these incredible vehicles, and with the most recent announcement from Lucasfilm, we are about to be hand delivered an answer that will blow the minds of a new generation.
First up, is the all-new re-design of the traditional AT-AT Walker. The AT-M6 Walker, which stands for All Terrain MegaCaliber Six walker, is so named because of the giant laser cannon built into the infrastructure of its back. Unlike the AT-AT, this new walker, which is based upon the muscular body of a Gorilla will walk with a “simian-like gait” which will help to stabilize the colossal cannon.
The First Order AT-M6 Walker (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm)
In his Star Wars.Com interview, Kevin Jenkins, Lucasfilm’s design supervisor for The Last Jedi, revealed that the design emerged when they began thinking about the evolution of military tanks, as well as ways for the AT-M6 to avoid being taken down by Snow Speeders, a fate suffered by the AT-AT’s in The Empire Strikes Back.
The First Order AT-M6 Walker (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm)
“We went through this whole discussion about iteration. Iteration, to me, makes more sense than random walker design. So, we talked about the way a Sherman tank in World War II evolved into an Abrams tank, for various reasons, or a Chieftain tank, or a Challenger, or whatever you want to say. And so, we were trying to think about what made sense for a walker and I just said, “Look, a walker, to me, it’s essentially a Panzer tank mixed with a dog.” One of the questions that tied us up a lot is the fact that they’d been taken down by Snow Speeders in The Empire Strikes Back, and it felt like everyone else is trying to avoid the problem of a four-legged version of a walker because they had been defeated on Hoth. So, I sort of took that on board and I suggested to Rian, “Well, instead of a dog, what about a gorilla?” I can’t remember why I said a gorilla, but I just said, “They have a great stance, they are very aggressive,” and that’s how the idea of the gorilla came. And literally in profile, I moulded it over an actual photo of a gorilla to get the initial base pose.”
The First Order Dreadnaught:
As for The Dreadnought, the vast Star Destroyer continues The First Order’s obsession with size. Similar in design to the Imperial Executor class Super Star Destroyer, the Mandator IV-class warship comes in at a whopping 7,669.72 meters, or 25,162.8 feet, in length. It also features two absolutely enormous orbital auto-cannons for large-scale planetary bombardments.
The First Order Dreadnaught Star Destroyer (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm)
When asked about the design of the First Order’s new command ship, Jenkins revealed the thinking behind introducing this colossal new vessel:
“I spent a lot of time looking at real-world references. Looking at the big battleships, the Yamato and all those kinds of things from World War II, and the way those guns would lower or rise. So, the idea of them coming out the bottom of the Dreadnought became a design feature, because rather than just being there pointing down, we wanted to imply the danger that they sort of unlocked themselves and then moved into position. Just like the big 14-inch guns you used to see on those old battleships. It was a capitol ship. That was what we were kind of going for.”
The incredible armaments of the First Order Dreadnaught (Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm)
The First Order are well and truly about to strike back with these behemoth vehicles. The AT-M6, which will walk like a Gorilla to accommodate the enormous cannon incorporated into its structure, looks like a fearsome reimagining of the traditional AT-AT and will surely overwhelm any Resistance forces standing in its way. We can only hope that Finn and his band of heroes are up to the challenge.
The Dreadnaught, appears to be an ominous evolution of the traditional Executor Star Destroyer commanded by Darth Vader throughout Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. With its all-new targeting orbital canons, the spacecraft looks capable of laying siege to any planet in the Outer Rim, which will spell certain doom for our struggling band of freedom fighters.
Whether the greatest fans in the galaxy, embrace these redesigns of our old favourites remains to be seen. J.J Abrams’ The Force Awakens was criticised for its narratives mimicking A New Hope in a way that did not sit well with many and we were promised that The Last Jedi would rectify those failings by being more original. But, with many of the narratives and vehicles of The Empire Strike Back being revitalised into Rian Johnson’s sequel, the devoted fans of the galaxy far, far away will be waiting to pass judgment on December 15th.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!