Every Planet Obliterating Weapon In 'Star Wars,' Ranked
A Look At The Planet Killers
"That's no moon. That's a space station."
- Obi-Wan Kenobi (A New Hope)
One of the staples of the Star Wars franchises, both in Legends and canon, has been the existence of superweapons that the villains designed to destroy entire planets and the heroes constantly raced against time to find a way to destroy. This article will discuss some various planet killers in both Legends and canon, ranked both in terms of their destructiveness capabilities, and their prominence within the saga.
1. Starkiller Base (Canon)
Introduced in The Force Awakens as the First Order's bigger and meaner answer to the Death Star, Starkiller Base (named after a Legends videogame character and after Lucas' original last name for Luke) is perhaps the single most destructive planet killer in the history of the Star Wars franchise. It has the ability to not only target multiple planets at once, but also attack from afar. Whereas the original Death Star could get around to different star systems and vaporize planets, it still had to be in proximity of its target. What is also notable is that Starkiller Base was built into a part of a planet, specifically the planet Illum, a rich source of Kyber crystals. Ilum was where Jedi used to go to find Kyber crystals to build their lighstabers. Like the Death Star, these crystals were used for Starkiller Base's primary weapon system.
Despite its short existence, its one and only shot had devastating results for the galaxy, destroying the entire Hosnian System, including Hosnian Prime, in one single stroke. Their limited defense forces were also wiped out in the attack. This was also the site of the New Republic Senate, and thus the Starkiller Base effectively eliminated the New Republic’s government. The First Order was then free to unleash a reign of terror against the galaxy.
Fortunately, General Leia Organa's Resistance, along with help from Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a former First Order Stormtrooper, Finn, were able to destroy it before it could destroy the Resistance Base on D'Qar or any other planets.
2. The Sun Crusher (Legends)
Introduced in the Jedi Academy trilogy book series, the Sun Crusher was a nearly indestructible craft (no larger than a starfighter) developed at the Empire's isolated Maw Research Installation. In the time after Return of the Jedi, it was stolen by Han, Chewbacca, and a Force-sensitive slave named Kyp Durron. Although not directly capable of destroying planets, the vehicle was equipped with special torpedoes that, when fired into a star, would cause it to explode in a massive supernova, destroying everything within the system. Kyp fell under the sway of the spirit of Exar Kun while training at Luke's Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, and used the vehicle to attack and destroy the Empire-controlled Carida system. He would later destroy the Sun Crusher in an attempt to redeem himself.
Obviously, this one ranks high because of its destructive potential (being able to wipe out whole solar systems). However, as with the original Death Star, it had to travel to its target.
3. Galaxy Gun (Legends)
Introduced in the Dark Empire comic series, the Galaxy Gun was an orbiting weapon platform above the reborn Emperor throne world of Byss. It was created by the reborn Emperor Palpatine to attack the New Republic during his brief reign of terror a few years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The weapon worked by firing large projectile towards its intended target, and then detonating its destructive payload upon arrival at its designated target.
The Galaxy Gun succeeded in wiping out several Rebel bases along with the planets they were on. Fortunately, the Emperor was finally defeated by the New Republic at Onderon when R2-D2 reprogrammed his massive Star Destroyer Eclipse II to collide with the weapon platform, causing it to unintentionally discharge, destroying Byss, and severely crippling the resurgent Empire.
It gets a mention due to its destructive potential and ability to attack from afar.
4. The Final Order Fleet (Canon)
Emperor Palpatine was reborn in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga The Rise of Skywalker, seeking to bring terror and wreak havoc on the galaxy. Instead of simply building another weapon platform capable of destroying planets, he and the Sith Cultists of Exegol joined with Kylo Ren's First Order to launch a fleet of Star Destroyers with planet-destroying capabilities. The world of Kijimi was obliterated in a test demonstration of their power. However, the combined efforts of Rey, Ben Solo, The Resistance, and a massive flotilla of civilian ships managed to defeat Palpatine and destroy the fleet before it can leave Exegol and destroy other planets.
Despite the obvious potential of multiple mobile and powerful Star Destroyers being able to scatter around the galaxy and destroy multiple planets at one time, Emperor Palpatine's grand design for them was ultimately foiled by the fact that they were unable to navigate off Exegol without a beacon to guide them out. Once the beacon was destroyed by the Resistance, they were trapped and helpless.
5. The Death Star/Death Star II (Canon)
The Death Star was the original weapon that Emperor Palpatine sought to use to achieve total domination of the galaxy. The battle station resembled a large moon with a super laser capable of destroying planets, and was capable of travel between star systems to attack targets via its hyperdrive. Developed towards the end of the Clone Wars, ironically enough by the Geonosian Separatists and introduced (chronologically) in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Death Star was initially test-fired at the planet Jedha, wiping out Jedha City and most of the surrounding area. This attack also resulted in the deaths of Saw Gerrera and most of his rebel partisans, who were based on the planet. The Death Star was also used again shortly thereafter against the Imperial vault planet Scarif in order to prevent the theft of the Death Star plans, which a band of rebels had been able to obtain and (just barely) transmit to the orbiting Rebel forces.
After receiving the transmission, Princess Leia Organa, was able to escape the space battle with the plans aboard her ship and subsequently hid the plans the astromech droid, R2-D2, before she and her ship were later captured by the Empire near Tatooine. Later, the Empire succeeded in unleashing full power of the Death Star against Princess Leia's adoptive homeworld of Alderaan, completely vaporizing it as Grand Moff Tarkin tried to persuade Princess Leia into revealing the location of the Rebel’s hidden base.
The Death Star also nearly destroyed the Rebel base on Yavin IV. However, due to the recovery of the Death Star plans, and the flaw intentionally built into the battle station by one of its chief designers, Galen Erso, the Rebels are ultimately able to destroy the massive battle station before it can fire on the moon.
The Empire then decided to build yet another Death Star in Return of the Jedi. The Rebel Alliance was lured into an all-out attack against the unfinished battle station, not knowing that it was already functional. While the second Death Star did not obliterate any planets, it managed to destroy several Rebel cruisers during the battle, nearly forcing a retreat. The Rebels ultimately prevail in bringing down its deflector shield, and destroying its reactor core, thus blowing up the station. Its destruction, as well as the subsequent deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader aboard the Death Star, effectively ended the Galactic Empire.
While it feels sort of weird to rank "the one that started it all" last, the Death Star obviously had numerous disadvantages compared to the other planet obliterating weapons. As I have already mentioned both the first and second Death Star had to travel to its target before attacking. In addition, the first Death Star took a significant amount of time to power up and recharge between firings, which certainly gave the Rebels a window of opportunity to blow it up in A New Hope.
The Empire did learn from its past mistakes and improved on the design of the second Death Star. It had the ability to squeeze off more shots in battle. It was also better protected than the first one with its deflector shield. After figuring out Erso’s well-placed flaw in the first Death Star, the Empire made it harder for the Rebels to access and destroy the main reactor of the second Death Star. Despite the improvements, the second Death Star still had the same tactical and strategic disadvantages as its predecessor.
Written By Mara Butler
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