What Does That Tree In 'Shattered Empire' Mean For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'?

Marvel Comics' four-issue miniseries Star Wars: Shattered Empire has come to an end, and it doesn't really tell us much about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But it does end with some questions which I wanted to dive into. For instance: what does that tree at the end of the story mean for The Force Awakens and the future of the Star Wars galaxy? What does the comic book series suggest about Oscar Isaac's character Poe Dameron? Letls try to unlock the mysteries of that Shattered Empire tree and figure out what it might all mean.

What We Learned From Star Wars: Shattered Empire

After Disney purchased Lucasfilm, the Star Wars expanded universe became merely part of legend, ushering a new time when EVERY new Star Wars story would be considered part of the franchise canon. The promise of this idea is for fans to explore this galaxy and see moments from the connected story through the eyes of many different stories published in a variety of mediums. All of the stories, including the films, goes through the Lucasfilm story group (comprised of Rayne Roberts, Pablo Hidalgo and Leland Chee) to ensure all the storylines, characters, concept and ideas line up with the greater storyline. This means that moments in the novels and comic books could lead to events we see in the upcoming films, and visa versa.

When the Star Wars comic book Shattered Empire was first announced as part of the Journey to the Force Awakens series of publications, the idea presented was to bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and its sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But much like Star Wars: Aftermath, it only merely offers a glance at one story in a moment in time after the fall of the second Death Star — it isn't so much the Force Awakens prequel some might have been expecting or hoping for.

That's not to say Shattered Empire isn't a great comic or a satisfying Star Wars story. It might be the best released since Disney took over the franchise. But if you're looking for information on the future of the Star Wars film universe or Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there isn't a lot to be found in here. Lets take a look at what we learned from Star Wars: Shattered Empire before we dive into Poe Dameron's backstory and the Shattered Empire tree debate.

Warning: Spoilers for Shattered Empire follow and we do speculate what some of this could mean for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (If you've read Shattered Empire, feel free to skip to the second page)Shattered2

Princess Leia Feels the Force

While visiting Naboo with her pilot Shara Bey, Princess Leia feels the presence of Darth Maul in a war bunker that had not been entered since the climactic battle at the end of The Phantom Menace. This is the first time we see Leia demonstrate new Force sensitivity within new canon, outside of the connection with her brother from the films. Post-cognition is rare amongst Force users, and has been looked down upon by the Jedi. It allows one to remember a time in an object or place's history upon physically encountering it.


The Empire Has Lost, But the War Never Ended

Even though the Emperor has been killed and the second Death Star has been destroyed, the Imperials have not given up the fight. The fact that the Empire isn't gone is not a big shock considering we see they still have strength as the "First Order" in the upcoming film The Force Awakens.

The Emperor Lives On Posthumously

The Emperor planned for his possible death and left a holographic recording ordering into motion Operation: CINDER, a pre-planned assault on strategic targets. Apparently part of Operation: Cinder involved burning all Rebel propaganda that claims the Emperor has died.

The Series Centers on Poe Dameron's Mother

The strongest connection to the upcoming seventh film is the main character: Shara Bey, a rebel soldier during the Battle of Endor and the few months that followed. A reveal in the first issue is that she is married to a rebel soldier named Kes Dameron.

If you know anything about the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you might recognize the last name as it belongs to Oscar Issac's character. Shara and Kes are the parents of Force Awakens' "black leader" resistance pilot Poe Dameron, although you wouldn't know this from just reading the comic as his name is never mentioned only mentioned once in the comics.

Oscar Isaac in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

What Do We Know About Poe Dameron's Origins?

Despite a sex scene in the first issue, Poe was apparently born earlier — sometime before the Battle of Endor. It is not said when in the comic, but Bey complains she hasn't had much time to see her son "since he was born." Shattered Empire writer Greg Rucka has revealed more backstory in interviews:

[Shara and Kes] joined after the victory at Yavin, and they joined after the victory at Yavin for a very specific reason. They had a cargo service that they ran and they had a newborn. They were like, 'Well, what's the future for our child going to be?'


Poe Dameron Grew Up on Yavin 4

And Isaac himself has thrown out the idea a couple times that his character could have grown up on Yavin 4 and was maybe present at the medal ceremony from the end of Star Wars: A New Hope, prompting him to join the Rebel Alliance. The end of the four-issue Shattered Empire comic book miniseries seems to confirm this, revealing that the Dameron family grew up on Yavin 4 (see the panel above, and yes it has been confirmed as Yavin 4 if you don't believe).

Shattered Empire tree

The Ending of Shattered Empire: The Force Trees

In the fourth and final issue of Shattered Empire, Luke Skywalker recruits Shara Bey to help him infiltrate a Star Destroyer to take back something that Emperor Sheev Palpatine stole a long time ago. In a high security laboratory are all that remain of the tree that once grew in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Luke and Shara Bey are able to rescue and escape with the trees.

What is the importance of the trees that Luke Skywalker would put himself in such a risky situation to rescue them? It must be more than sentimental value, right? Luke claims they are strong "with the Force," but doesn't elaborate further. There must be some reason Emperor Palpatine didn't destroy them. There must be some reason he was experimenting on them. What was he hoping to learn or gain from the experiments? What kind of power could the remnants of the Jedi Temple tree offer?


What Is a Force Tree?

As far as I can tell, there is no concept of a tree that is one with the Force in all of Star Wars canon previously, or even any of the expanded universe that is now considered "Legends." But there is the concept of a "Force nexus," which is an area or object in which the Force is unusually strong. Wookieepedia explains it as follows:

The natural mountain on which the foundation of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant rested was a nexus for unknown reasons, but is was likely because of all the Jedi that had lived there for thousands of years. ... Objects left in the presence of a Force nexus for extended amounts of time eventually became saturated with the Force, which imbued the object (like a weapon) with special abilities, like an edge that will never dull, the ability to absorb some Force powers like Force lightning and electric judgment, or even the ability to enhance the wielder's perception of time, allowing him to think and react faster than otherwise possible. This effect allowed even a being who wasn't Force-sensitive to use the weapon to a great degree. Further, objects imbued with a particular aspect of the Force — be it light or dark — could actually become so saturated as to make their very presence intolerable to those of opposite alignment.

Interesting, but not definitive. Let's move on.


Luke Skywalker Gives Shara Bey a Force Tree

Luke Skywalker gives one of the two trees to Shara Bey for her to keep at her home. She is retiring from military duty to spend time with her family, her husband Kes Dameron and son (not named, but Poe Dameron). Luke mentions that he didn't expect there to be two trees, and says that "one of them is spoken for."

We can only assume that Luke Skywalker is going to plant his tree in the building of a new Jedi Temple. Although, none of the marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens seems to suggested that a new Jedi Temple exists. We have some idea that Luke has been gone many years, possibly after a decision to isolate himself from the rest of the galaxy. Maybe the tree has been planted in the place he has chosen for his isolation?

Shattered Empire tree

Does Growing Up Around a Force Tree Make Poe Dameron a Force Sensitive?

But what does this tree that is "one with the Force" mean for Star Wars: The Force Awakens? As for the purpose for the tree in the story, writer Greg Rucka mentions in a Twitter reply that he "wanted Luke to pursue something besides 'just another holocron' ;) ." While it makes sense that they need a new and different MacGuffin to base this comic book miniseries around, many fans are wondering what role the trees will have in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the future of the Star Wars universe.

Does the fact that Poe Dameron grew up playing in a yard with a Force tree mean anything? Could Poe possibly have Force sensitivity due to his upbringing around the Force tree? Marvel editor Jordan D. White is very active online answering fan questions. Here he answers this question:


Jordan's non answer is interesting, but doesn't confirm anything. The idea that Poe grew up in the shadow of a tree saved from the Jedi temple seems to suggest destiny will still serve a big role in the future of the Star Wars universe.

Is the tree just a poetic metaphor to represent the new beginnings for the Dameron family, or is it a set-up for future stories in the Star Wars universe? This being a prequel of sorts for The Force Awakens, you would think that (literally) planting the seeds of an interesting artifact such as this Force tree would surely be a setup for what comes in the upcoming film.

I tried asking editor Jordan D. White over the weekend about the tree, and despite normally answering all comers, he avoided my question. Today I decided to rephrase the question and ask again, hoping he might clarify the tree's possible importance to the overarching story. He responded with the following:

Again, a non-answer. You would think if the tree was only meant to be a MacGuffin for this story that would end the miniseries as a symbolic metaphor, that Jordan might just deny the implication that is a set-up, but he didn't.

the clone wars tree shattered empire

Concept art for The Jedi Temple from Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Trees' Backstory: The Clone Wars

Writer Greg Rucka has confirmed that the tree is a callback to The Clone Wars. Editor Jordan D. White says he thinks the idea to include the Jedi Temple tree originated from Greg Rucka:


Remember we mentioned the Force nexus of the Jedi Temple a bit earlier? The tree was seen outside the Jedi Temple in the twentieth and final episode of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series which was titled "The Wrong Jedi" (part of the closing Yoda arc). The "ancient gnarled tree with golden boughs" was seen in the background of a sequence which involved a duel between Anakin Skywalker and Barriss Offee, which interrupted a training session of Jedi younglings conducted by Tera Sinube at the training ground near the base of the Temple's central spire.

Located on Coruscant, The Jedi Temple (or the Palace of the Jedi) was the headquarters and training facility of the Jedi Order from the Great Sith War to its abandonment during the Great Jedi Purge, after which it was retrofitted into the Imperial Palace. The temple first appeared in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace but was since added to Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi during home video rereleases.

Unfortunately, that particular tree's presence in Star Wars canon thus far doesn't give us any clues as to its powers or future in the franchise.

Some other things to think about:

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The Kylo Ren Torture Scene

In the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we see Kylo Ren torturing Poe Dameron, right before we cut to a shot of a forest being destroyed. It's unclear if this shot of the forest destruction is from a sequence in the film, or if it is imagery that Dameron is experiencing due to the mind torture (which is something we've seen as recently as in Star Wars Rebels). Could there be a connection here between the tree, Poe's home world of Yavin 4 and this clip from the latest trailer? Remember, the comic book storyline had the Emperor testing the trees in a top secret lab. There is clearly something to gain from their power. Is it possible that Kylo Ren is torturing Dameron to find this tree for his own purposes? We are not sure.

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"The Dark Side, the Jedi, They're Real"

Another thing to notice in the new Force Awakens trailer is the clever placement of Harrison Ford's Han Solo voiceover line of "the Dark Side, the Jedi, they're real." I've noted when the trailer was released that it seemed like a clever move to have Han Solo say "the Jedi" as the trailer cut to a clip of John Boyega as Finn. The marketing seems focused on Finn with a lightsaber, which to me seems like a way to hide the fact that the story might really be about Rey being the new Jedi (and possibly a Skywalker) of this new trilogy. But the clip under "the Jedi" voice over also features Poe Dameron, which could mean something, or possibly nothing at all.

To be fair, of all the rumors we have heard surrounding The Force Awakens, I don't think I've ever once heard the possibility of Poe Dameron being a Jedi or Force Sensitive.