Since damn near the very first moment that Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dropped just after Thanksgiving, there has been an endless back and forth among fans about that new, broadsword-style lightsaber lugged around by Kylo Ren. There have been all kinds of theories about how functional it would be with those small blades that come out at the hilt, and if it would really protect your hands or be a hindrance and liability in actual combat. Now I know nothing about swordplay aside from what I’ve seen in the movies, but luckily for all of us, there’s this dude on YouTube who put these this newfangled weapon through it’s paces to see if it’s practical or not.
One of the biggest issues is that people think, swinging this around as you would in pitched duel, those little offshoots would do more damage to you than anything else. To test that out, Thegn here created a replica and dipped the ends in paint to see if he would knick himself in the heat of battle. The basic gist of this demonstration is that, if you’re skilled and know what you’re doing, like a Jedi, you’ll be okay.
He even demonstrates that, in certain situations, these little extra doodads can provide a tactical advantage, like when two combatants clinch up. That actually leads to the second big issue people bring up in regards to this lightsaber, one that you can’t really test without being in a Star Wars movie. The theory is that, if you do lock blades with another lightsaber, your enemy could simply run his blade down yours and lop off whatever is emitting the small blades, and that they’re pointless and provide no real protection.
When Stephen Colbert defended this new design, he presumes that, instead of three separate blades, they’re all really part of one single unit, even though they extend at different times. Again, we can’t really test that, but odds are if we thought of that, the people involved in creating it probably did, too, and there’s likely an explanation floating around somewhere. Whether or not we get it in the movie, however, remains to be seen. It’s hard to imagine characters sitting around discussing lightsaber design at any point and having it not feel forced and out of place.
Now Thegn’s first video got some complaints, like how he was holding it differently than Kylo Ren and an actual lightsaber blade weighs nothing, so he did it again a few days later, with more or less the same results.
It’s entirely possible that all of this is going to be a nonissue in The Force Awakens. As with so many other things, it depends on whether or not certain rumors are true, but we’ve heard that this is not Kylo Ren’s primary weapon. Some reports say that he’s the one carrying the so-called wampasaber at the beginning of the movie. There’s been so much talk of people collecting ancient Sith artifacts that it seems entirely possible this new lightsaber is one of them, possibly an outdated model that no one uses, perhaps something he picks up as a last resort. That could certainly explain the wonky, wavy looking blade. If this is a very old weapon, it might not be in the greatest state of repair.
All of this is speculation at this point, and we won’t know anything until December 18. To be honest, I have no issue with this particular design. Sure, I wouldn’t use in battle, but I’m clumsy enough that I shouldn’t handle most weapons. And if I somehow find myself locked in mortal combat, I’ve got way bigger problems. Though it has been a lifelong dream to be involved in an actual lightsaber battle.