For viewers of any sci-fi movie, there’s always a need for a suspended sense of disbelief. Enjoying a film that features technology far beyond our grasp or understanding really requires us to put away our criticism in favor of a good story. Few franchises embody this better than Star Wars, existing in a universe where magic, laser swords, and faster-than-light travel are considered run-of-the-mill. All the stories that exist within the Star Wars canon are really best enjoyed with minimal thought or concern paid to realism.
That being said, it doesn’t mean we won’t do what we can to try and find logic in the chaos anyway. Screenwriters can’t fill every gap in logic within Star Wars, so we’re going to attempt to do that for them. We’re going to dig into the all-too-granular details about things in the world of Star Wars that literally make no sense at all. These are the questions that you can’t really explain away with clever writing and we’re going to indulge in them simply for the sake of argument.
1. Space travel
We can believe that a host of civilized and advanced societies in the far reaches of space all discovered interstellar space travel around the same time. Statistically it’s unlikely, but we’ll allow it anyway. What we have a hard time believing, though, is the speed at which this travel occurs. It’s made clear throughout Star Wars that everyone exists within a single galaxy, spanning hundreds of advanced worlds across the expanse (with a few existing just outside the galaxy).
If you consider for a second that Earth is 25,000 light years away from the end of the Milky Way Galaxy, it becomes difficult to imagine how a journey from Coruscant (a core planet) and Tatooine (an “Outer Rim” planet) would take anything less than thousands of years to make. It’s never been explicitly stated how fast a hyperdrive really is, but according to Wookieepedia, it “allowed travelers to traverse a galaxy spanning over 120,000 light years in only a few hours or days.” Barring travel straight through a wormhole, this seems more than a little impossible to accomplish.
2. The Galactic Empire could never actually work
The end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith shows us the rise of the Galactic Empire, marking the inception of a lengthy period of oppression and control at the hands of Emperor Palpatine. In a society where 120,000 light years is a quick hop across the galaxy, it’s not hard to exercise control over a whole host of planets. The impossibility of the space travel aside though, it would be even more impossible to really take over an entire galaxy in its entirety.
Think of Earth: a medium-to-small sized civilized planet with limited space travel abilities. Upwards of 7 billion people live here, divided up over hundreds of individual countries, each with its own military and system of leaders, many of which possess nuclear capabilities. Imagine a single entity coming to our planet and controlling every single country in a world of 7 billion people. Now picture that same entity trying to levy the same control over literally hundreds of other worlds, many of which are far more technologically advanced than Earth. The second the Empire leaves to go conquer the next world, they’d face immediate resistance from the planet they left behind, making the possibility of perpetual rebellion all too real.
3. The Republic Senate could never work either
Sure, a single oppressive Empire could never actually rule over hundreds of planets spaced out over 120,000-plus light years. But how about the Republic Senate we see in the prequel trilogy? Surely, those planets could at least agree to send representatives to a governing body that encourages cooperation, trade, and protection. In reality though, even that is a tall order.
Each planet likely has a host of countries, each of which would feel entitled to have a representative in the Senate. We have a hard enough time in the U.S. picking representatives for our states; expand that out to an entire planet trying to do the same, and you start to see the difficulty in making this happen.
4. The Jedi
So we know a central government exercising control over a whole galaxy wouldn’t work. But what about the Jedi, the self-described peacekeepers of the whole operation? The Jedi existed as a largely unregulated police force with its own self-appointed council, answerable only to the Chancellor (and even then they seem to favor their own decision-making over his).
They’re literally magic, they appear to be the most skilled warriors in the entire galaxy, and they operate almost completely autonomously from the rest of the galaxy. If something like that existed on our planet, you can bet we’d be freaking terrified of them.
5. The Death Star
A while back, one daring man decided to do the whole world a favor and calculate the cost of building a single Death Star. The number he came to as a result of this hard work was stunning: $15.6 septillion. And that’s just to build an empty model of the thing, and doesn’t include the cost of manning it, installing all the requisite technology and life support, and building out all the interior rooms. When you then realize the Empire built not one, but two of these damned things, you start to wonder where the hell they’re getting the money to do this.
The cost notwithstanding, there’s also the small issue of actually flying the Death Star. It’s essentially a space station the size of a small moon; it’s miles across in diameter, and in order to truly be an effective weapon, it would need to actually be able to transport itself to various quadrants of the galaxy. You can find a garble of sci-fi pseudo-science that attempts to explain away this problem, but the fact of the matter is that a moon-sized pillbox is really hard to move from Point A to Point B.
Yeah, you can threaten a rebelling world with complete destruction if they get out of line, but if you can’t haul your $15 septillion behemoth out of orbit, it’s kind of an empty threat.
6. Stormtrooper armor
Stormtrooper armor may look cool, but after eight movies, it has yet to prove its service of anything resembling a useful function. We’ve seen it fail to protect its users from everything from blaster bolts to small rocks thrown by Ewoks. Hell, more often than not, it restricts the motion of Stormtroopers and destroys their peripheral vision. If you’re going to insist on outfitting your fighting force with armor, it’d probably be a good idea to actually have it serve something beyond an aesthetic purpose.
7. The retrieval and delivery of the Death Star plans
Picture a society that’s already mastered faster-than-light travel, laser swords that can cut through almost anything, and blasters that fire red-hot bolts that can tear a gaping hole in human flesh. Now try to imagine that same society failing to invent any sort of way to transmit data across large distances. Kind of difficult, isn’t it? Barring some other explanation, that’s the only reason we can think of that Princess Leia felt compelled to deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebellion in-person rather than simply transmitting them.
Sure, the message could have been intercepted, but ultimately, who the hell cares? The Empire already knew the Rebels got their hands on the plans; it makes no difference whether they find out it’s been sent digitally. And yeah, without the whole “we hid them inside R2-D2” thing there wouldn’t be a movie. But it doesn’t make it any easier to believe that no one thought to save everyone the effort and shoot off an email with an attachment.
8. The rise of the First Order
After the decades-long oppression of the Empire, you’d think the new governing body in charge of keeping peace in the galaxy would do everything in their power to prevent a relapse. Instead, the First Order rose up in complete secrecy, a fact so purposefully ignored by the New Republic, that Leia had to outright secede and create her own militia to battle them. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Snoke et al managed to secretly train hundreds of thousands of new soldiers from birth, build an entire armada of TIE Fighters and capital ships, and co-opt an entire planet to build a super-weapon five times the size of the Death Star. Suffice it to say, someone dropped the ball.
9. Obi-Wan completely forgets who Princess Leia actually is in A New Hope
At the end of the prequel trilogy, we see Obi-Wan and Bail Organa each taking a Skywalker child, and stealing them away to Tatooine and Alderaan, respectively. The assumption after that, is that Obi-Wan becomes fully aware that Leia Organa is in fact the second Skywalker child, and twin sister to Luke. When he sees the transmission from Leia delivered by R2-D2, his first reaction isn’t to inform Luke that he has a sister, or even to seek her out to help train her in the ways of the Force. We know now that George Lucas hadn’t planned that far ahead at the time, but it remains today one of the saga’s biggest early plot-holes.
10. Force abilities are never clearly defined
We see the Force rear its head as a convenient plot device throughout the Star Wars saga. In A New Hope, it allows Luke to blow up the Death Star, sans his targeting computer. In Return of the Jedi, we see him use it to choke the life out of guards inside of Jabba’s Palace. Beyond that, we’ve seen it give Jedi increased leaping ability, mind-reading powers, and an advanced form of telekinesis. And yet, when a Jedi goes toe-to-toe with an enemy, he seems committed to hand-to-hand melee with a lightsaber.
Think of it this way: If you had the ability to throw someone across a room with your mind, would you ever bother with swordplay? Why opt for a taxing, drawn-out back-and-forth, when you can literally choke someone to death without touching them? Obviously, the answer is “because then there’d be no dramatic tension,” but it’s a gaping hole in logic nonetheless.
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