Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn’t the first story to have a starship ram another through hyperspace, but the original instance was far bleaker.
In The Last Jedi‘s epic sacrifice, Vice Admiral Holdo rammed the First Order’s flagship as her vessel entered hyperspace in a move that stunned movie-goers, but another Star Wars property actually depicted this scenario first. More accurate to established Star Wars lore, the first “Holdo Maneuver” in the franchise had much grimmer consequences for the vessels that rammed an Imperial dreadnaught.
Holdo’s hyperspace ramming maneuver in The Last Jedi was one of the film’s most controversial moments. Holdo aimed the Raddus towards the Supremacy and jumped to hyperspace, hitting the gargantuan dreadnaught right before it would have entered the hyperspace tunnel. While Holdo’s demise was inevitable with this maneuver, it also bisected the Supremacy and shredded two-thirds of the First Order’s fleet of Resurgent-class Star Destroyers. While some praised the sequence’s visual grandeur, others criticized its potentially callous rewriting of the Star Wars franchise’s space battles. For those familiar with the Legends continuity, however, this moment was strangely familiar.
In 1983’s Race for Survival by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson, three “Holdo Maneuvers” occurred simultaneously with drastically different results than what was shown in The Last Jedi. During the Rebel Alliance’s evacuation from their fortress on Yavin IV, the Rebel fleet was being pursued by both Darth Vader aboard the Galactic Empire’s flagship, the Executor, and Admiral Amise Griff, who led a trio of Imperial-class Star Destroyers. In the confusion of the battle, Griff’s trio of vessels exited hyperspace, ramming Vader’s flagship in the process just as they exited the tunnel, vaporizing Griff along with all three Star Destroyers but leaving Darth Vader’s ship unharmed, aside from having its shields depleted.
If Holdo’s strategy had the same results, the Supremacy would be shaken but otherwise perfectly capable of destroying the remaining Resistance escape craft. Race for Survival established that hyperspace ramming is a slower, more expensive, and far less efficient way of knocking out a vessel’s shields than simply using a craft’s weaponry, which is why the maneuver isn’t common, even in a world where droids could be commanded to carry it out.
The Star Wars franchise, especially in its iconic space battles, has never obeyed the laws of physics, operating predominantly on the “rule of cool” instead. Despite this, Star Wars properties establish internal logic that at least allows for a better suspension of disbelief when consistent, and Last Jedi‘s stunning success could only happen in a world that ignored the old canon’s depiction of this tactic. Had the Holdo Maneuver fans saw in the films held true to the Star Wars Legends depiction, it would have had a far bleaker outcome.
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