The Rebellion is no more. The Empire is no more. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, now it’s the Resistance and the First Order who battle each other for the fate of the galaxy, but what makes them different from their predecessors? Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, explained it to us, along with the history of Star Wars’ new X-wings.

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“Just think about the words,” Isaac told io9 in an interview this weekend. “One is to rebel against, so it’s an offensive action. Resisting is on the defensive. So I think the big difference is that [The Resistance] is even more cornered.”

That does not sound like the grand victory people imagined for the Rebellion after the end of Return of the Jedi. Isaac also said “There’s less of them” and “It’s slightly less organized,” which pretty much paints a picture of the universe we’re going to see in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Speaking of picture painting, Isaac explained how the character backstory he created for Poe before the film found itself in the Marvel Comic, Star Wars: Shattered Empire.

“This is one of the very cool things about working with Lucasfilm and J.J. [Abrams] is we’re creating this stuff together,” Isaac said. “And they’re open to that and they’re excited by that. So [the backstory] was a collaboration. That was me realizing that Yavin, the Rebel base at the end of A New Hope, was shot in Guatemala. I was born in Guatemala. This takes place 30 years later. Which is close to my age. And so I thought ‘Why couldn’t Poe be from Yavin? He could be from there, that rebel base.’ And I said that in some interviews. Lucasfilm heard that, it got back to the creators of Shattered Empire and they thought ‘That’s a cool idea.’ This is the first time where me talking about my character background I usually do as an actor, I get a comic book out of it. It’s pretty wild. They’re doing a beautiful job. I think it’s great. The story itself I had nothing to do with just the seed of that’s where Poe in born.”

That story itself features Dameron’s parents battling on Endor and even helping Luke Skywalker find a key piece of Jedi history. We won’t spoil it beyond that.

Finally, when asked about Poe’s main mode of transportation, the X-wing fighter, Isaac had some great insight into how the iconic ships have evolved since we last saw them.

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“They’re faster. They’re more maneuverable. Just think about a BMW from 30 years ago to now. It’s more computerized,” he said. “You notice instead of the four thrusters, it’s got the one that separates, it’s a more high powered engine. The guns also. The targeting is better on them, you can get way more specific with taking out individuals from very up high.”

So even though the Resistance is struggling against the First Order, they have the tools to do so. Plus, they have Poe’s undying loyalty.

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“The Resistance is everything to him,” Isaac said. “He comes from a line of Resistance fighters. He has pledged his total allegiance to the Resistance. He believes in The Force and he wants to take down the First Order. So he puts his life on the line at any given moment to do that.”

Star Wars The Force Awakens opens December 18.


Contact the author at germain@io9.com.