The 20 greatest Death Star moments in Star Wars cinema

16. Dark side deaths

The Death Star 2 plays host to the Empire’s destruction in Return of the Jedi, as both the Emperor and Darth Vader meet their makers. First it’s the turn of the Emperor, hauled into the reactor core by Vader, who simply can’t stand by and watch his master zap his own son with lightning bolts. Already wounded, this Herculean effort ushers his demise.

As Luke removes Vader’s helmet, knowing he will die, we see the pale-faced, scar-riddled Anakin underneath. “I’ve got to save you,” says Luke. “You already have,” he replies. Sob!

17. Super-dramatic super-laser

The most powerful part of the Empire’s ultimate weapon rightfully gets the most dramatic shot in the Rogue One trailer: shadows fall, revealing Imperial Star Destroyers in the wake of the Death Star being fitted with a brand spanking new super-laser.

18. Destruction of Death Star 2

There’s a beautiful irony in the destruction of the second Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi – lanced with the fiery wreckage of Vader’s flagship Star Destroyer, it’s almost as if the Rebel fleet force the Empire to slap themselves in the face.

19. Han on the intercom

After blasting Detention Block AA-23 to smithereens, Han Solo stalls for time by blaming the mayhem on “a slight weapons malfunction” and a “dangerous reactor leak”. Asked to supply his “operating number” by an unseen controller, Han destroys the console with the legendary, “Boring conversation anyway!”

Harrison Ford deliberately left this A New Hope scene unlearned in order to make his off-the-cuff gas-bagging sound spontaneous.

20. Death Star detonation

“You’re all clear, kid!” whoops Han Solo after putting paid to the three Imperial fighters on Luke’s tail. “Now let’s blow this thing and go home!” Luke exhales and sends his last two missiles flying, shooting them into the exhaust port and consigning the Death Star to a fiery grave.

Visual effects man Richard Edlund originally hoped to achieve the shot for A New Hope by blowing up an actual model in ILM’s parking lot. Ultimately, though, time and money constraints led to an explosion being superimposed over a Death Star miniature.

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