By this point, I’m sure you’ve heard all the complaints about this film, just as I have. For good or bad, J.J. has launched a new cycle of Star Wars for the next generation of fans. Because of this, The Force Awakens has been burdened honoring the 40-year legacy of the franchise while having to introduce new characters and new situations as if no one has watched the other films before. The movie was a massive financial success, so regardless of whether you thought it was good or bad, it’s moving forward. There is, however, one thing that I believe should have been changed.
The Rx: Change the Resistance to the New Republic Army
I know that this is such a simple change as to seem almost entirely null. I mean, what can a simple name change accomplish? Well, quite a bit.
First, I understand that Resistance was coined to make an obvious parallel with A New Hope. But this is one of those instances where I think that they followed the formula too closely. Not only was this unnecessary, but doing so made little logical sense and required a whole lot of intellectual gymnastics and backstory (that was not in the film) for it to work.
Making this change greatly simplifies the storyline and provides a relatively seamless transition from Return of the Jedi. You wouldn’t need the line of exposition discussing how the New Republic is working with the resistance. And think of all the questions having a resistance raises, such as: why is the Resistance fighting the First Order and not the New Republic? Where are the New Republic Forces, why wouldn’t they be fighting the First Order? If the Resistance is fighting on behalf of the New Republic, why would they have to be secret? Why wouldn’t the New Republic think that the First Order was a threat? Where does the Resistance receive its funding, resources, and staffing? And so on.
To take it a step further, I’d change the name of the First Order to something like Imperial Loyalists. Sure, it doesn’t sound as cool, and yes, I know that J.J. loves to load his movies with mysteries and hidden/deeper meanings (BTW, wouldn’t the First Order actually be “The Rebellion” in respect to the New Republic? ). So many of the questions about the Resistance could be asked about the First Order. I remember my friends asking what happened to all the millions of Imperial troops and starships, not to mention bases and governing bodies after the end of Jedi. By calling them Imperial Loyalists, it makes their history and allegiance clear and doesn’t require a convoluted backstory… just as A New Hope didn’t require one.
Storytelling 101 tells us that the motivations of characters (and organizations) should be clear and understandable, which makes the story more engaging. If it isn’t on the screen, it doesn’t count. Sometimes all you need to know is in the name. Empire/Rebels is clear. New Republic/First Order/Resistance is not. And that is my prescription for The Force Awakens.