How The Last Jedi Made Star Wars Space Combat Legible

How The Last Jedi Made Star Wars Space Combat Legible

If any one thing about The Last Jedi has been contentious — actually, no, strike that, everything about The Last Jedi has been contentious, including its approach to space combat (the Holdo Manoeuvre, anyone?). But according to one fan and critic, Rian Johnson’s epic actually makes space combat in the Star Wars universe more explicable, not less.

Pew pew pew. Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm

Setting aside Holdo’s hyperspace shenanigans, YouTube creator EC Henry has put out a short video that lays out how, in a few subtle, deft moves of exposition and scenecraft, The Last Jedi provides information that makes an entire series’ worth of space battles easier to understand. How do shields work? Why do capital ships in the Star Wars universe always rub up against each other like they’re trying to make little capital ship babies?

According to Henry, The Last Jedi has the answers.

You can watch the video below. And if you like his take and want to see how he takes on Holdo’s tactics, he’s got a video for that, too.


  • Guy who’s never watched a sci-fi series decides to do some basic wikipedia searching.

    Was there anybody who was confused over space combat in Star Wars before? Did they really have to wait until TLJ to understand them?

    • I find it difficult to believe Rian Johnson realised anything he may have said or done had impact on 7 other films and millions of fans.

    • Star Wars isn’t science fiction, It’s a space opera, Science fiction deals in hypothetical situations & dilemmas facing man, It’s the only medium that can really ask “What if” & it’s being utterly destroyed by Star wars & fantasy being labelled as “Sci Fy”, The 1970’s science fiction was a reflection of the almost dystopian like era, Bleak & depressing, Star Wars was a space opera escapism ppl needed, Wish ppl would read a science fiction book & grasp how different tye two genres are.

      • I mean no offense. Apologies for the tone of my message, It was not really a reply to you but a reply or gripe in a general sense.

      • You know, I do agree with you on the matter of hoping to see people understand the difference between hard science fiction and space opera. However according to modern terminology space opera is part of science fiction genre… 🙂

        You may not like it, I may not like it, but it is not a battle we can win. Move on and make people aware of the difference by explaining it in a fashion that does not make you come across as too elitist for your own good 🙂

      • Considering I am still happily surprised when I see sci fi and fantasy in separate sections I wouldn’t be holding my breath

  • i miss the days when every single detail in a movie didn’t needed to be explained

    then again anyone who’s studied history or heck high school science would know cannons have effective ranges… The Last Jedi didn’t explain or clarify anything about space combat that isn’t already know

  • Of course, this still doesn’t explain the old plothole of “Why doesn’t the Rebellion just hyperspace a ship into every single capital ship the empire owns?”

    • How would it be possible for the Separatist army to ever lose when they could attach jump engines into every robot?

      • I do get the idea that mass can affect their ability, which is fine going by his other video *HOWEVER* they could start just hyperspacing Blockade runners into the Star Destroyers and whatnot, surely that’s going to be devestating in terms of effect if they’re suddenly hit by 2 3 or 4 ships.

        I mean the scene visually *was* fantastic, but, going by the old stories, I remember it mentioned somewhere that the shields actually prevented this happening.

        • The thing with this tactic of flying a ship into the empire to destroy there ships is that the empire outnumbered the rebellion buy a massive amount. In the movies its hard to tell but the empire had a bazillion ships compared to the rebellion so while this tactic is viable in small scale or desperate situations it was probably not sustainable in the long run.

        • It immediately broke the film for me. I put it up there with r2d2 having jump jets in the prequel trilogy, when there were soooo many times he would’ve used them in the original trilogy, if he had them.

          Why build a death star when you can just invest in hyperspace missile technology? It was a big misstep I think.

          • I don’t think that is entirely fair though. The problem of ballistic weaponry in Star Wars has always been there, evidenced by the ability for a fighter to pass through shields.

            The easiest way to explain their disuse would be to canonise their illegality. If projectile weapons are outlawed due to a perceived sense of inhumanity, similar to chemical or flame warfare in reality, then it could also make for an interesting dilemma in-universe: is Holdo a hero or war criminal? It also allows a Disney a manufactured reason for fans to hate her character without damaging their image by acknowledging the dislike. It’s a win-win if you ask me.

          • So hyperspace weapons are illegal, but Death Stars are ok?

            I’m glad you’re ok with it, I mean it is a fantasy, but i thought it was ridiculous. It just breaks the logical flow for all the other films. I don’t know what they’re were thinking.

  • While I didn’t have any questions about the movie thank you for doing the article and sharing an awesome video

  • Anything to prise The Last Jedi?

    Rogue One space combat was miles ahead of what we got in the latest film and I do not remember anyone prising it (or prising the film itself) so excessively…

    Of course it is entirely possible that as a result of The Last Jedi making Space Opera more accessible to the general public (which is not necessary a good thing in the long term) someone finally realised that things such as space combats do happen, for the first time.

    However, one should note that, The Last Jedi does not actually feature space combat scene. Yes, there is some combat in the place that is made to resemble “space” as in, the part of the universe that has no gravity and is nothing more than vacuum… but if someone is using that as a means of understanding how things work out there, then I fear for the humanity…

    As for the actual space combat… we had it done well 20 years ago and done it well, take a look for yourself and YouTube Babylon 5, after watching some of that you will find the modern regression in the so called “space combat” very disappointing.

  • A plot would have really saved this movie/trilogy. I guess mega $$$’s means it will still be considered a success.

    • While it made money, it fell short of expectations and caused a lot of controversy around the Star Wars brand. Solo being sent out to die is going to hurt the brand too.

      I predict that within the next year Rian Johnson is going to have “creative differences” and be removed from the series.

  • Yep. Great space combat. Like how the bombers ‘drop’ bombs. In space. With no gravity.

    Ok so there are also laser swords so suspending my belief is a good thing. But still. Missiles are a thing. Torpedoes are a thing. Why ‘drop’ (seriously, space) bombs that look like they have no chance of penetrating anything?

    Especially when they demonstrate later that they could’ve just dropped into hyperspace and immediately destroyed or at least, gravely, gravely damaged the enemy fleet with exactly the same amount of losses.

    Has anyone played Freespace or Wing Commander? This has been done well for a long time now. The last star wars film was a big step backwards in terms of introducing new technologies that completely don’t fit in the established continuum.

      • You are aware that the same thing would occur in Empire if you pay attention. In the space cave, they would be sucked right out of the ship if they just opened the door without depressurizing the entire falcon first. Applying real world science arbitrarily to a SciFantasy film isn’t a compelling argument.

    • Well they clearly have artificial gravity in those bombers and even after the bombs had fallen out of the ship’s artificial gravity it would still be moving in the same direction because there are no other forces acting on it. In a novelization it would probably warrant a line or two of explanation but in a movie it doesn’t really matter. All people really need to understand is what everyone is trying to do and their motivations for doing it.

  • Finally watched The Last Jedi last week and to be honest it’s the worst of the new ones imo. Still a solid film, but very disapointing.

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