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Let's talk about the new 'Star Wars' lightsaber

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An elegant weapon for a more civilized age

Let’s talk about this new lightsaber. About a minute into the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, a cloaked figure is tromping through a snowy forest and ignites a weird-looking lightsaber: it’s big, sort of flickery, and it has a crossbar.

Some on Twitter have taken to calling it a laser claymore.

Immediately, speculation began about the possible wisdom or stupidity of this design. Here at The Verge, we fell roughly into two camps. On one side, there are those who say this is terrible design. Their argument is as follows:

  1. You're going to chop your hand off.
  2. It doesn’t even protect you, because the laser-hilt isn’t flush with the blade, so if a lightsaber slides down you'll just get a cut hand and a broken lightsaber.

To which the other side responded:

  1. It solves a big lightsaber design problem, which is blades sliding down and cutting your hand off.
  2. Bonus: You can jab opponents with the laser hilt.

The big question, in my opinion, is whether lightsaber blades can even slide. I don’t recall a time in the original three movies when blades slid. Opponents would cross blades, which seemed to stick together and make that crackling sound, and then push apart again. I assumed there was some sort of electrical force that locked blades together when they touch.

But Russell Brandom points out that there seems to be case of sliding here at 1:08 in the Anakin / Obi Wan / Yoda / Count Dooku fight, and that a crossguard could’ve helped.

I'm not so sure.

The best explanation I’ve heard comes from the commenter squiz, who points out that the crossbar beams look unfocused and that maybe this guy is an old Sith "reawakened," and that he has an early model lightsaber. This seems plausible! But then the question is: did people realize the crossbar makes no sense? Did lightsabers get stickier at some point, making the crossbar useless? Is the crossbar a good idea or a dumb one? Discuss in the comments.

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