Han Solo trusted his blaster more than anything in the original Star Wars, and there’s a very particular reason why his weapon, and all blasters — including those in Rogue One — strikes such a different feeling than laser-guns in other science fiction: they look real.
Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, recently revealed his epiphany concerning science fiction weaponry in general as it relates to Star Wars. In an interview with SFX, Edwards said, “In your brain you think Star Wars is 50% sci-fi and 50% historical/real world, but its really like 90% historical/real world and 10% science fiction.”
What Edwards is correctly noticing is something hardcore Star Wars fans have known for a long time. The reason Han’s blaster looked like it could pack a serious laser-blast was because the prop was based on real WWII era Mauser-pistol. And the majority of other sci-fi firearms in Star Wars are the same, including the iconic stromtrooper blaster rifle, which has already been seen extensively in the Rogue One trailers.
But, apparently, early in filmmaking the process, Edwards was unaware of this.
“When [the prop masters] were designing all the weapons and the guns, one of the first faux pas I committed … [is saying] this one feels too antiquated, this one feels like something they’d have in World War II. [And the prop master would say] that’s exactly the Stormtrooper weapon from A New Hope. [Back then] they were just grabbing real world guns and costume, and just doing a little thing to it that made it feel like Star Wars.”
The universe of Star Wars was widely praised from a design standpoint, specifically because all the technology had a “used” or “lived-in” feeling. Many fans criticized design elements in the three Star Wars prequels for seemingly abandoning this idea: So many of the guns and ships looked too shiny and chrome. In The Phantom Menace Padmé’s blaster looks more like something from an antique pulp-science fiction magazine, then something from the original Star Wars trilogy.
Edwards, post-epiphany, seems to agree: “If you go too far it’s Flash Gordon” he said “… or it’s Star Trek.”
While the Flash Gordon reference seems correct, the Star Trek one seems like a low blow. After all, the first stormtroopers we ever saw in A New Hope were able to set their weapons to “stun”, a total Captain Kirk move.
Still, most fans of both Star Trek and Star Wars would have to concede that the blasters of Star Wars just look more dangerous. And that’s because in our galaxy, they are.