In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the First Order’s Starkiller Base superseded the Empire’s Death Star as the ultimate planet-killing superweapon. And in the game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, it seems that the former might have actually been planned by Palpatine all along.
Ilum is a planet sacred to the Jedi, and was used in an initiation rite where Padawans travel there to locate a crystal for their own lightsaber. But after their destruction by Order 66, the planet was instead utilized for the mass harvesting of crystals to create the Death Star’s weapon. For the Starkiller Base to dwarf the Death Star in power, it would require a supply of crystals even greater, and as a result it’s long been speculated by fans that the Starkiller Base was constructed out of Ilum itself, although this has never been officially confirmed. The release of Jedi: Fallen Order seems to offer further visual evidence of it, though.
A section of the game sees the player travel to Ilum to find a replacement crystal for your lightsaber after its original is destroyed. The top image seen in the gallery below is taken from the game, showing Ilum with a giant strip mine running around the planet, while below it is the Starkiller Base from The Force Awakens. The similarity between the two is undeniable, and in the canonical reference book Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away, it’s stated that both stellar objects have the same diameter of 660 kilometers.
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Most interesting is the chronology of events. Jedi: Fallen Order takes place five years after Revenge of the Sith and fourteen before A New Hope when the Empire was a galactic power, meaning that if it was Ilum that was transformed into a weapon, it would have been Palpatine who ordered it done so. This subsequently implies that the Death Star was merely a prototype for the mass use of kyber crystals to create a super-laser, and the construction of the Starkiller Base was his goal all along.
Of course, there won’t be any official word any time soon on whether or not this is accurate. At least not before the release of The Rise of Skywalker next month when the once and future Darth Sideous makes his reappearance in the saga and we find out what he has in store for our heroes. But it’s certainly some interesting food for thought in the meantime, wouldn’t you say?