Imperial Star Destroyers in the Original Trilogy — A Guest Blog by Jay Stobie
Memorable Star Destroyer Scenes & Their Pivotal Roles In The Trilogy
The might of the Galactic Empire was spread across the galaxy in the original Star Wars trilogy, and a fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers enforced the law of the Empire throughout the stars. With its dagger-like outline that could pierce the hopes of even the most courageous Rebel, these sixteen hundred meter-long behemoths embodied power and destruction. However, in Episodes IV through VI, the Imperial Star Destroyers also provided fans with a multitude of scenes that dropped jaws, pleased the eye, and served as pivotal moments within the overall storyline of the trilogy. Here we will examine some of these crucial scenes and provide the context for their place in Star Wars lore.
Death Squadron: The destruction of the first Death Star appeared to be a crippling blow to the Empire, but the arrival of the aptly named “Death Squadron” fleet early in Episode V proved that the Empire still had the upper-hand in the ongoing struggle with the Rebel Alliance. Not only were we treated to our first glimpse of a small fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers in formation, but the ominous shadow of something so vast that it dwarfed the mighty fleet marked the arrival of the Super Star Destroyer Executor. At nineteen kilometers in length, this flagship for Darth Vader and Death Squadron was a massive, yet sleek, reminder of the Empire’s power. Echo Base never had a chance.
Evasive Action: As the Millennium Falcon fled the icy wastelands of Hoth, we were treated to some of Han Solo’s signature death-defying maneuvers as our gallant heroes were pursued by Death Squadron. In one particular bit of bravado, Solo is able to twist and turn the Falcon between the fleet of Star Destroyers and nearly cause a series catastrophic collisions that would have put several of the Empire’s finest ships in the scrap heap. Visually stunning, this scene also marked the beginning of the infamous asteroid field chase that would lead to an encounter with a Space Slug and a voyage to the cloud city of Bespin.
Out With The Garbage: Han Solo’s ingenuity crafted another stunning scene that found the Millennium Falcon grappled onto the back of the command tower of the Star Destroyer Avenger. That maneuver, coupled with the Falcon’s escape amongst a wealth of Imperial garbage, added to Solo’s already sturdy reputation as an innovative scoundrel. This sequence is also noteworthy for its establishment of Boba Fett as Solo’s primary pursuer and the unveiling of Fett’s starship Slave I.
Escape From Bespin: As Luke suffered from the trauma of his duel with Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon had to once again make a daring escape from Executor, this time flying in tight across the larger vessel’s starboard side to avoid fire from her turbolasers. The unveiling of Darth Vader’s true identity, perhaps the most memorable scene in the entire trilogy, had already taken place and left audiences reeling. However, during the escape a Force-enabled interaction took place between father and son. While brief, this exchange signaled that the life-altering revelation was indeed true and the hope to be reunited with his son still burned within Vader.
Approach To Endor: In a visually stunning scene, the stolen shuttle Tydirium approached the forest moon of Endor and received a brilliant view of several Star Destroyers, Executor, and the menacing second Death Star. Darth Vader’s realization that Luke was aboard Tydirium led to a momentous decision to allow the stolen ship to pass through the web of security. This choice offered yet another glimmer of Darth Vader’s eventual redemption that was ingrained in his love for his son. While the Emperor did plan on allowing a Rebel strike team to reach the surface, he surely would have preferred to have captured Luke as soon as possible. By defying what his Master would have wanted, the true nature of Anakin Skywalker continued to be revealed.
“It’s a trap!”: The line that turned Admiral Ackbar into a Rebel folk hero also precipitated the appearance of something all Star Wars enthusiasts had dreamed about: a massive fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers led by Executor. While appealing to the eye, this essential scene marked both the revelation that the Alliance had fallen into the Emperor’s plan and the beginning of the battle that sent the Empire toward the path of defeat. While these plot points were incredibly important to the trilogy, it must be noted that the scene was also great because it had turbolasers… lots and lots of turbolasers.
Pursuit of Tantive IV: No list of memorable Star Destroyer moments would be complete without including the one scene that started it all. The opening theme had been played… the Episode IV title crawl had just concluded… the relatively tiny starship Tantive IV had flown into view with turbolaser blasts on its heels… when, all of a sudden, the dagger-like protrusion of an Imperial Star Destroyer’s bow appeared on a pursuit course toward the fleeing Rebels. With the exception of the end of the Cloud City duel and the unveiling of Darth Vader, this is probably the most iconic scene in the entire trilogy. Not only did it introduce the plight of the Rebel Alliance and the might of the Galactic Empire, but the sequence launched audiences into the incredible Star Wars universe that continues to fascinate us to this day.
Jay Stobie is a science fiction writer who is an avid Star Wars and Star Trek enthusiast. He has a particular interest in the starships that populate these astounding universes, and he can be found on Twitter at @CaptStobiePowered by Sidelines