A lot of the imagery may look the same, but don’t mistake the First order for the Empire — or the Resistance for the Rebellion.
In an interview with io9, Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Oscar Isaac (aka Resistance pilot Poe Dameron) delved into the verbiage director J.J. Abrams chose to use in the long-awaited Star Wars sequel. Isaac noted that the decision to change the names of these groups was done deliberately, with “Resistance” taking on a very different connotation from “Rebellion.”
Here’s an excerpt from his comments, where he also touches on the origin of his character Poe Dameron:
"Just think about the words. 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 ... The Resistance is everything to [Poe]. 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."
Isaac makes a good point, and though they sound similar, “Resistance” is a bit different from the old language. Part of what made Star Wars so fun was the back-against-the-wall spin on the story. It sounds like Force Awakens will have that in spades.