A teaser for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens drops on the blackest of fridays, fans attack YouTube and Apple servers to watch it, a new lightsaber makes its debut. Opinions are formed.
Then I put together this post explaining the problems with the device on a first look and some proposed ideas for a redesign. Then I poured through the Wookieepedia for some excuses, some reasoning for how the current design could possibly work. I found some answers.
Listed among the pages on lightsaber-resisitant materials are 15 elements, creatures, and objects that can reflect or even disable the seemingly unstoppable power of a Jedi (or Sith) weapon. We’ve seen some of these before in various cannon (Lucasfilm movies and shows) and non-cannon-based works. Others don’t make much sense, like water. Water will short-circuit a lightsaber, but that’s not a realistic element for which to craft a solid hilt. There are other elements, though that would totally work. Let’s look into those.
The Yuuzhan Vong are kidney-lacking humanoid creatures that can’t be sensed by the Force. They grew genetically engineered serpentine creatures called Amphistaffs. Once fully grown, they detach from their polyps and are susceptible to catching by a Vong warrior. Once this happens, they bond (like the Mountain Banshees in Avatar) and can be used as a whip-like weapons or rigid staffs in battle. These were unphased by lightsabers (like the shell of a Vonduun Crab), but I doubt the Sith-looking figure in the teaser used Amphistaff hide as a material in their saber, but it’s possible.
Cortosis is a super rare ore that has lightsaber-disabling properties. When a saber comes into contact with a weapon or armor made from Cortosis, the energy loop in the blade’s hilt short circuits, leaving it disabled for an amount of time. I think this would be a fascinating thing to use in a Star Wars movie at some point, acting as a sort of kryptonite to a Jedi’s weapon. I don’t think, however, it’s the basis of the hooded figure’s hilt. Cortosis is brittle and easily shattered with repeated blows. Besides, disabling a lightsaber sort of defeats the purpose of the hand guards’ defensive uses.
Also referred to as “beskar” in Mando'a, this Iron is nearly indestructible. While it’s used in the creation of Mandolorian Armor, Weapons, Machinery, and Lightsaber hilts, It seems unlikely to me that this figure would have the means to use it. The forerunning theory right now is that this is a force-sensitive being who, without direction from Jedi or Sith instructors, created their own blade. If this is the case, and trade is no longer being regulated by the Federation or Empire, I highly doubt this entity could afford the ore. It’s very expensive stuff. Still, this is a realistic option in the sense of assembly.
This substance draws similarities to Cortosis and beskar, but falls somewhere in between. It can block lightsaber energy, but only temporarily. It’s also very heavy. Let’s rule this one out.
This option isn’t a realistic option either, but it is worth sharing that the parasitic Orbalisk is lightsaber resistant. These tiny bugs cling to force-sensitives and feed from them. Darth Bane was able to arrange them into full body armor. Creepy…
Used in the making of Magnaguard dress, bounty hunter jackets, and the cloaks worn by both Darth Vader and General Grevious, Armorweave provides some lightsaber resistance. Not enough for something as sturdy as a sword hilt, but certainly for a frock or cloak of some kind.
Ultrachrome is resistant to lightsaber attacks by being highly conductive. The energy that passes through it is distributed instead of concentrated. It’s not resistant to melting under prolonged duress, making this a poor option for cross guards.
If you’re familiar with General Grievous’ MagnaGuards and their electrostaffs, you know what Phrik is all about. This compound is lightweight and lightsaber resistant. It’s also rare, but not rare enough that it wasn’t used for droid assembly during the Clone Wars. It’s possible this is our answer.
Another strong contender is Songsteel. Another lightweight metal often used by Jedi for lightsaber practice battles. If this sort of metal was more attainable, anyone could craft anti-lightsaber objects with great effect.
Out of the options presented, it seems most likely that the body of the hooded character’s lightsaber is made from Phrik or Songsteel. Mandolorian Iron is possible as well, but in an economy following the Empire’s downfall, I doubt it would be very accessible.
Then again, maybe the material has nothing to do with its invulnerability. Maybe this is a new Sith lord and it’s protected by Sith alchemy. Maybe they’re actually a colorblind good guy who has found a way to imbue his their weapon with the Force. Maybe the hilt actually is poorly designed and therefore breakable by an opposing blade.
Maybe none of this will ever be explained by J.J. Abrams and co.
I think the final option is the most likely. In any case, it’s extremely possible J.J.’s design team thought this through and the light saber is structurally sound. We can only guess.