Star Wars’ Most Powerful Weapon Has a Tragic Secret

Star Wars’ Most Powerful Weapon Has a Tragic Secret
Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Disney+

While it may look like Starkiller Base came out of nowhere, the planet actually has a rich history behind it.


  • Among many other similarities to A New Hope, The Force Awakens introduced its own powerful superweapon
  • But not everyone knows that Starkiller Base was actually built on a planet that has appeared in Star Wars before.
  • The fact that it is actually Ilum, an ancient planet sacred to the Jedi Order, was only revealed years later, confirming fans' suspicions

More than a decade after the release of 2005's Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, when it was announced that Star Wars would soon return to the big screen with Episode VII, fans held their breath in anticipation.

Unfortunately, the movie turned out to be not exactly what they expected, feeling more like a remake of the very first Star Wars movie, 1977's Episode IV - A New Hope, with all the familiar traits of the original.

While it wasn't necessarily bad, unlike much more controversial later installments in the franchise, it did feel odd to see essentially the same story of a young Force-sensitive prodigy from a desert planet against a masked, mysterious villain who uses a super-weapon to destroy worlds.

Starkiller Base Was Built On a Very Familiar Planet

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The Starkiller Base was essentially a Death Star 3.0, capable of destroying an entire star system with a single shot, the only difference being that it was made out of a planet instead of a military space station built from scratch.

However, the movie failed to explain that the planet used as the basis for the weapon actually appeared in the franchise before the release of Episode VII and was incredibly important to the Jedi Order.

The planet in question is Ilum, which many Star Wars fans are likely familiar with, as it was one of the main sources of kyber crystals used by the Jedi to build their signature weapons.

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The crystal is the most important part of a lightsaber, so each youngling must find one to build his own weapon, a task that is an essential part of Jedi training.

But even though the planet is incredibly rich in kyber crystals, the process is not as easy as it sounds, as not every crystal is suitable, and the youngling must be "chosen" by that very special crystal, and follow its call to obtain the precious prize.

Since the planet was discovered tens of thousands of years before the movies, the Jedi have built a temple on its surface dedicated to conducting the trials.

Ilum Was an Important Part Of Star Wars Long Before Episode VII

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Among many other Star Wars projects, the planet was featured in episode 6 of season 5 of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which revolved around a group of younglings trying to find crystals.

With the rise of the Galactic Empire, Palpatine quickly recognized the planet's potential and began large-scale mining operations to extract as many crystals as possible, which were later used in the creation of the Death Star's planet-obliterating superweapon.

After the First Order replaced the Empire, they chose the now trench-ridden planet to serve as the foundation for Starkiller Base, continuing what their predecessors had started and turning the once sacred place for the Jedi into an instrument of doom.

However, as mentioned above, Episode VII provided no explanation of the base's origins, with fans only noticing visual similarities between it and the Empire-era Ilum (the massive trench along its equator) in other Star Wars projects such as the Jedi: Fallen Order video game.

The mystery remained unsolved for some time, until the Visual Dictionary dedicated to Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker confirmed their suspicions and clarified the tragic fate of Ilum.