The new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit theaters and the Internet. It'll be tough waiting a full year for the movie to arrive and watching the anticipation build to fever pitch. One detail in the teaser that has drawn particular buzz is the new lightsaber wielded by a dark-clad figure walking through snow-covered woods. It was red, indicating that it was likely the villain of the story, since that is the color of choice for the Sith, who embrace the Dark Side of the Force. Almost every new chapter of the Star Wars saga has offered the opportunity to debut a new rendition of the iconic lit-beamed weapon.
Original pre-release images of Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi dueling in the first Star Wars, later called A New Hope, had both blades a simple neon white. On-screen, we saw that lightsabers of the "good guys" were blue and the Dark Lord of the Sith used a red one.
The new saber in The Force Awakens seems a lot more fiery. Compare it to the smooth look of the other lightsabers we've seen before, especially the signature saber of Darth Vader, which he used to chop off Luke Skywalker's hand in The Empire Strikes Back. Scroll down below to see my theory about why that might be.
In Return of the Jedi, we saw that lightsabers could be different colors as Luke introduced a cool green one. Apparently, this was a production decision to make the lightsaber easier to see in the outdoor scene over the Sarlacc Pit, since green was easier to read than blue over the Tatooine sky.
In the prequels, a variety of new lightsabers were revealed. The most dramatic was Darth Maul's double-bladed slicer-dicer, truly the best part of The Phantom Menace.
We later saw Jedi Knight Mace Windu sporting a purple lightsaber, seen in action in Attack of the Clones.
And even Jedi Master Yoda carried a lightsaber, which he used in Revenge of the Sith to battle Count Dooku, whose own red weapon had a curved hilt.
Now here's my theory about the design of the cross-handle saber in The Force Awakens. Fans are speculating about its form versus function. Why create a lightsaber like that (besides the obvious, that it looks great and will sell a bunch of toys)? Wouldn't it be too dangerous for the user? Would it give the Sith Lord (or Sith Apprentice) an advantage in a sword fight? Could it have another interesting storytelling explanation?
My thought goes back to the look of the light beam -- more ragged than the others we've seen, the energy sizzling and crackling. It shouldn't have anything to do with the climate, since we didn't see anything similar when Han Solo used Luke's lightsaber on the ice planet Hoth or when Obi-Wan Kenobi battled Jango Fett in the rain on Kamino.
Maybe the new blade is just more powerful, or maybe its creator didn't know how to make a proper one. Imagine a scene in which the lightsaber was being built, and the laser-flame shoots out toward the sky, and the only way to control it is to have two small nozzles on the handle that let off some energy. Maybe that explains it.
Or it could just be for attention, like the drag car racers who add some blaze to their vehicles for intimidation.
Whatever the answer, I expect to see even more new designs in the movies to come.