J.J. Abrams Confirms Starkiller Base Is Actually the Third Death Star

'The Force Awakens' sees the First Order rev up its firepower and internal conflict with General Hux.

We don’t want to say we told you so, but we totally told you so. After many hints from the trailers and an obvious inclusion in the final poster, director J.J. Abrams confirmed that the First Order is picking up where the Empire left off by using a third Death Star known as “Starkiller Base” as its primary weapon of galactic terror. Star Wars nerds will appreciate the name: “Starkiller” was Luke’s original surname in early drafts of George Lucas’ script before he changed it to Skywalker.

Abrams (begrudgingly?) confirmed for Entertainment Weekly the new weapon’s place in The Force Awakens. “It is very much — and it’s acknowledged as such in the movie — apparently another Death Star,” Abrams told the magazine.

So is it “very much”? Or “apparently”? The decisions that Abrams and co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan made are about to hit a gazillion theaters, and the reality of the scrutiny seems to be sinking in for the director.

Still, his contradictory phrasing might contain clues. When the third Death Star rumors began swirling, fans complained that the villains building an enormous planet-destroying battle station again, after two previous versions were destroyed, seems a bit idiotic, not to mention another waste of resources and manpower. Abrams continued by telling EW: “But what it’s capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done. Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power.”

He stops short of telling the magazine how Starkiller Base differentiates itself from the first two Death Stars, but hopefully it involves a bit more than just being capable of blowing up bigger planets. EW — which knows more than it lets on — speculates the Starkiller moniker is on-the-nose, saying that the increased firepower means it may be able to destroy an entire sun, creating a shockwave to potentially destroy entire solar systems.

Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux in 'The Force Awakens.'

Abrams does, however, mention the difference in firepower also has something to do with actor Domhnall Gleeson’s mysterious character General Hux. Apparently Hux’s ambition is to outdo the Empire’s previous failures. Gleeson himself told EW he played the character with “an air of superiority, and being better than those people around you.” That abuse of power includes Hux trying to one-up previously revealed villain Kylo Ren. EW calls them “frenemies,” but Gleeson characterizes the divide between the two differently: “They have their own relationship, which is individual and unusual. One of them is strong in different ways than the other. They’re both vying for power.”

We can’t wait to see where their evil galactic pissing contest takes us when The Force Awakens drops on December 18.