Star Wars: Why the Empire Failed to Use Ion Technology – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The Empire had plenty of firepower throughout the Star Wars original trilogy, but it failed to utilize one of the galaxy’s most powerful weapons.
With its huge army and devastating weaponry, the Empire was all about ruling with fear. As soon as the Clone Wars ended, Palpatine employed as many soldiers as possible to bulk up their numbers and spread his influence throughout the galaxy. But when it came to equipment, the Empire was far stingier, often favoring cheap materials which allowed it to manufacture en masse. And because of this, it missed out on one of the most useful weapons in Star Wars: ion cannons.
Ion weaponry was seen first being used by Jawas in Star Wars: A New Hope, as their small ion blasters were able to shut down R2-D2 with a single shock. But during Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the Rebellion used this weaponry on a much larger scale. A large dome-shaped cannon sat on Hoth's surface and was used to disable entire Star Destroyers long enough for transport ships to evacuate.
RELATED: Star Wars: The Empire Was Never a Match for the Galaxy's Most Hilarious Pirate
With how useful this cannon is, it's assumed the technology must be incredibly expensive, as it never appears again. However, ion weapons are used numerous times before the original trilogy. Y-Wing bombers fire ion torpedoes to temporarily switch-off Star Destroyers in both Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And most notably, during Star Wars: The Clone Wars, General Grievous commands a large cruiser with a mega-ion cannon, a weapon so powerful it could disable multiple battleships with a single blast.
In the wrong hands, this technology could be used to devastating effect, and it's surprising the Empire never invested in it. If the rebel fleet were to be shut down by ion cannons during any of its attacks against the Death Stars, things would've turned out far worse. And even if smaller ion weaponry was equipped on Star Destroyers, it would've solved many of the Empire's troubles when chasing the Millennium Falcon.
RELATED: Darth Vader Survived A New Hope – But He Almost Didn’t Make It to The Empire Strikes Back
While the Empire stuck to its relatively cheap Star Destroyers, the rebellion was well aware of the potential and used ion wherever possible. Despite their limited resources, the Mon Calamari strapped ion cannons to the side of luxury pleasure cruisers and used these against the Empire during Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It undoubtedly helped them stand their ground against all odds, and they're lucky the Empire had no similar weapons to counter.
If the ion cruiser from Star Wars: The Clone Wars is anything to go by, the technology is likely rare and expensive. But it's not as if the Empire had any shortage of money. The construction of the first and second Death Star would've cost an astonishing amount of credits, even if a heavy amount of slave labor was used. But that about sums up the Empire: it was so confident that its numbers and intimidation would keep people down that it wasn't prepared when facing a real threat.
Of course, Star Wars' lack of ion weaponry could be to help the story, as every ship disabling each other would be a pretty poor battle to watch. But it fits perfectly with the Empire's ways, which created cheap armor, guns and ships just to save some money and build its army as quickly as possible. But in the end, the Empire's greed and overconfidence cost it everything.
Ben has taken a ‘Film Production & Cinematography’ university course, and recently completed a ‘Scriptwriting’ masters course, both completed at Bournemouth University. Throughout the courses, he has worked on a number of short films and documentaries. And found that his passion lays in scriptwriting, where he can combine his love of movies, writing, and storytelling. With taking courses involving film, Ben has extensive knowledge of movies both new and old, and keeps up to date on all the latest goings-on in the film industry. Especially within his favourite franchises, such as Star Wars. In his spare time, Ben is usually watching movies, playing games and running D&D games for friends (and hopes to one day actually be a player).
Subscribe to the CBR newsletter for exclusive comics, TV & movie news, reviews, interviews & much more!


Leave a Comment