The Death Star problem

I was 10 when I first saw Return of the Jedi and, like the rest of the trilogy, loved it. It was the film I’d been waiting three years for and every frame of it etched itself onto my heart.

But even then, deep in my prepubescent lust for all things Star Wars, I recognised a problem … the second Death Star. The same thing again.


I didn’t know what a plot was, but I knew doing the same one twice was … well, a bit shit.

But it also kind of makes sense.

I’ve always found it weird in Batman comics when a supervillain almost succeeds in their nefarious schemes only to be thwarted at the last second by a combination of Batman’s awesomeness and pure dumb luck. It almost worked, if one variable had been different, if Batman had been one second longer defusing the bomb … different outcome. Surely it’s worth giving it another go?

And yet they rarely do.

The Death Star almost worked. If not for that one niggly exhaust port the Emperor would have been cruising the space lanes, giggling like a loon as he blew planets out of the black.

So yeah, put a cover on the exhaust port and try again. Makes sense.


Makes sense so long as you don’t think about the economics of it all, but from a character point of view I absolutely believe the Emperor would do it again.

And yet, from a writing point of view … there’s that tinge of shitness to it. That’s my Death Star Problem – when plotting a sequel do I stay true to the character who probably would build a second one* or do I service the viewer and just move on to new evil plots?

I tend to err on the side of newness, but I’m never quite sure that’s the correct answer. Repetition certainly hasn’t harmed Star Wars so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it either?

I don’t have an answer and I guess like most of these things it’s either down to personal preference.

Or it’s execution dependent.

I have no idea. What camp are you in?

* But not a third. Doing the same thing a third time is just stupid.

Categories: Random Witterings | Tags: | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The Death Star problem

  1. Reblogged this on The Story Bodyguard and commented:
    Writing sequels…from Phill Barron

  2. I believe* that the second Death Star was primarily a trap. Palps KNEW the rebs couldn’t leave it alone, they’d come to take it down, so this time he STARTS with the superlaser. It’s not the same plan done over, it’s using an established pattern to trap enemies.

    As a plot device, it’s deeply suspect. As a plan for a super-villain, it’s pretty good.

    *In that weird “may not have been what George intended, but hell with it” way of fans…

    • That’s an interesting reading. Does that mean the Death Star II is largely chipboard and sackcloth, just a pretend set?

      Otherwise it’s a bloody expensive trap!

      I guess that makes sense though, them once the rebels are dead, finish the Death Star and rampage across the galaxy.

      I like to think George had the same debate as this post and then just picked a side.

      • I assume he thought he was going to win, and that the trap on Endor would prevent the thing being destroyed. But he’s a mad Dictator at the head of a huge Empire built on greed and tyranny, so I expect he went with migrant labour and cut costs on construction… If it hadn’t blown up, he would have put his name in ugly gold lettering across the front….

  3. And then what would he have done? Maybe taken up croquet or knitting? I’m not really sure what mad Dictators want out of life.

  4. Pingback: The other Death Star problem | The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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