When fans were introduced to the First Order in the new Star Wars trilogy, there were many questions surrounding their rise to power.
Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? What is Kylo Ren's deal? And, perhaps most baffling, where did they get all those Stormtroopers and the money to fund their wars?
After the events of Return of the Jedi, the Empire was soundly defeated and driven to the Unknown Regions of the galaxy, while the New Republic restored order to the systems previously under Imperial rule.
So if you're confused how the First Order was so powerful compared to the dwindling might of the Resistance, you're not the only one. But the answers to these questions, unsurprisingly, can be found in the books, comics, and games fleshing out the Star Wars universe.
First of all, the Stormtroopers; where do they come from? Finn and Kylo hinted at this in the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The First Order traitor specifically says he was taken from his home when he was young and trained to be a Stormtrooper. This is further fleshed out in new campaign missions for the video game Star Wars Battlefront II, in which we learn of Project Resurrection.
The project is a massive undertaking by the First Order, in which they go to outlying systems and kidnap thousands of children, indoctrinating them into their ranks, and training them to be Stormtroopers.
There's also the matter of clone armies, briefly mentioned by Kylo Ren when he and General Hux were having one of their many spats. So that explains the Stormtroopers, but what about the resources for their armor and blasters? Or their vehicles and ships? Or the massive Star Destroyers? Or the breakthrough technology that tracks enemies through hyperspace?
That all stretches back to the fall of the Empire and beginning of the New Republic, as established in Bloodline, Claudia Gray's novel about Leia Organa. In that story, Leia deals with a conspiracy involving the Centrist party of the government, who wish there to be order across the galaxy controlled by a ruling party (sounds like the Empire). While Leia and her allies believe each system should have self-rule, the wealthy Centrists work through a group called the Amaxine warriors, who funded the rise of the First Order.
Those conspirators were setting the stage for fall of the New Republic, all while helping prepare the First Order for their eventual return to the galaxy.
While these events sound interesting, they're hardly intriguing enough to be included in the movies. Prequels aside, Star Wars has been less about politics and the nuances of how tyrannical groups rise to power, and more about the struggle between good and evil.
Fans can witness the full might of the First Order in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, now playing in theaters everywhere.