Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
|Star Wars characters|
|First appearance||Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)|
|Last appearance||Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)|
|Created by||George Lucas|
|Gender||Male and female|
A stormtrooper is a fictional soldier in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. Introduced in Star Wars (1977), the stormtroopers are the main ground force of the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, most notably Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. In The Force Awakens (2015), the stormtroopers serve the First Order, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke and his commanders, most notably Kylo Ren and General Hux.
The order of battle of the Stormtrooper Corps is unspecified in the Star Wars universe. They are known throughout the Galaxy for their high combat effectiveness, and due to their brutal and merciless tactics, have earned a harsh reputation throughout local star systems. Accompaning the Imperial Navy, Stormtroopers are able to be deployed swiftly and respond to states of civil unrest or insurrection, act as a planetary garrison, and police areas within the Galactic Empire. They are shown in collective groups of varying organizational sizes ranging from squads to legions and for some, their armor and training are modified for special operations and environments.
Introduced in Star Wars (1977), the Imperial stormtroopers serve as the army of the Galactic Empire, establishing Imperial authority and putting down any revolts.
In the prequel film Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), the first clone troopers are cloned from bounty hunter Jango Fett, to be the Army of the Republic in the Clone Wars. In Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), Chancellor Palpatine orders them to slay their Jedi generals in the Great Jedi Purge. The 501st Legion of clones become the first stormtroopers, while most other clones are executed or disbanded.
The Stormtrooper Corps swell in size after Palpatine allows the addition of recruits and conscripts alongside the clones, though the replacement of clones by natural beings lowers the effectiveness of the Empire's famed soldiers. With the Empire firmly stabilized and an Imperial Army/Imperial Navy established, the stormtroopers are integrated into Palpatine's personal army and stationed on Imperial bases and cruisers, as well as on the Death Star.
As established in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), after Palpatine's death the stormtroopers continue to serve under the factions that broke apart from the Empire. With redesigned armor, they eventually serve under the leadership of the First Order. In this film, it is also established that an undisclosed number of stormtroopers were conscripted as young children, given serial numbers for names and mentally conditioned for loyal service. Stormtrooper FN-2187, later known as Finn, plans his escape when his resistance to this conditioning puts him in line to be reprogrammed.
Star Wars Legends expanded universe media such as games and comics feature a number of specialized stormtrooper units. The Marvel-produced comics of the late 1970s and early 1980s featured Shadow Troopers. Other specialists have included commandos and troopers equipped to work in the vacuum of outer space, such as the zero gravity Spacetroopers depicted engaging in extra vehicular battle in the 1991 novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, and its 1995 Dark Horse Comics adaptation.
Others, such as the Beach Troopers, are for comical effect. Appearing only briefly in Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, they are clad in a Speedo and stormtrooper helmet. In Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, they also wear life jackets. Shadowtroopers appear in Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast wearing black armour made from a lightsaber-resistant metal called cortosis. This armour has a green synthetic gem set into the breastplate which gives the wearer Force powers. Their armour can also render them near invisible, with only a small area of blue discoloration giving them away, they use this ability to lie in wait and ambush the enemy, most often the game's protagonist, Kyle Katarn. Shadow stormtroopers appear in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and wear exactly the same type of Phase III armor [clarification needed] as normal stormtroopers but not white in color, it is a mixture of silver, grey and red detailing. These troopers also possess the invisible feature and use this tactic to ambush their enemies, but only if stormtrooper officers call out for support.
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As established in the original Star Wars trilogy of films, the troopers' most distinctive equipment is their white battle armor, which completely encases the body and typically has no individually distinguishing markings.
Based on conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie, Liz Moore and Nick Pemberton sculpted designs for the helmet, Brian Muir sculpted armor pieces for the stormtrooper costume. Muir, who was also responsible for sculpting the Darth Vader costume, worked out of the Art Department at Elstree Studios. The suit was molded and initially cast in plaster, with Muir sharpening the detail at the plaster stage. The plaster casts were then remolded and cast in fiberglass to use as the "tools" for the vacuum forming process. The suits were produced in house by Tashy Baines, the resident vacuum former, but then a problem developed with the machine. As Shepperton Design Studios had already been used to vacuum form the helmets, the fiberglass molds for the armor were then sent to them for vacuum forming the suits. By the end of production, two different helmets were produced; one for the common stunt trooper and a second design for close-ups. Fifty stunt helmets were produced in white-painted HDPE and six hero helmets were produced in white ABS plastic. Besides the material used, the two designs can be differentiated by differences in the eyes, the ears, and the mouth area.
The copyright status of the armor design has undergone legal challenges. A 2004 lawsuit by Lucasfilm against one of the original prop designers, UK citizen Andrew Ainsworth, who had been selling helmet replicas made with original molds, confirmed the design to be under copyright in the US. However, a 2011 UK court decision in Ainsworth's favor deemed the costume to be industrial design, which is only protected there for 15 years. This puts the armor design in the public domain in the UK, and likely throughout the European Union.
The 501st Legion Elite Stormtrooper Unit, or "Vader's Fist", is an Stormtrooper unit from the Star Wars movies and Expanded Universe. They served directly under the command of Darth Vader, who lead the 501st in the Jedi extermination, and were considered the best trained soldiers in the galaxy. The 501st spearheaded the assault upon the Tantive IV consular ship, and captured Princess Leia Organa. During the Battle of Hoth, the 501st was instrumental in the destruction of the Rebel Alliance base, and nearly succeeded in capturing the Millennium Falcon. Most of the background story linked to the 501st comes from Star Wars novels and games Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars The Force Unleashed.
The elite "501st" designation was resurrected by Grand Admiral Thrawn who was charged with the defense of the "Hand of the Empire" imperial remnant forces. Thrawn's 501st was composed of aliens, normal humans and Jango Fett clones; an incredible feat considering the xenophobic policies of the Empire.
Within the original Star Wars trilogy, several types of specialised stormtrooper units are seen. These include:
- Imperial Sandtroopers seen on the desert world of Tatooine during Star Wars (1977) and on Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Sandtroopers can be distinguished by their large, black, white or orange shoulder pad, slightly different markings on the rear of their helmets, a diamond-shaped knee-plate, and stomach armour different from that of the regular stormtroopers.
- Imperial Snowtroopers seen in the assault on Echo Base in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) on Hoth and in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and in the video games Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Shadows of the Empire on the Nintendo 64 (as well as Lego Star Wars II and Star Wars Battlefront (2015) are regular stormtroopers clad in subzero armor. Their helmets and armour are different, with goggles and a breather hood.
- Imperial Scout troopers seen in Return of the Jedi (1983). They are trained in advanced reconnaissance and survival skills for all terrains, and are also seen in Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed as marksman and scout snipers.
- First Order Riot Control troopers in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), specialize in riot control and use non-lethal betaplast shields and Z6 batons.
While stormtrooper performers like Michael Leader (Episode IV), Laurie Goode (Episode IV), Peter Diamond (Episode IV-VI), Stephen Bayley (Episode IV), and Bill Weston (Episode IV) have generally been uncredited in the film series, there have been a few exceptions.
In The Force Awakens (2015), John Boyega stars as Finn, the former Stormtrooper FN-2187 who defects from the First Order and joins the Resistance, and Gwendoline Christie portrays Captain Phasma, commander of the First Order's stormtroopers. Daniel Craig has a small uncredited role as a stormtrooper whom Rey compels using the Jedi mind trick to let her escape from captivity, and director J. J. Abrams also cast Alias and Lost composer Michael Giacchino as FN-3181, and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich as FN-9330. A riot control stormtrooper who calls Finn a traitor during the battle on Takodana, portrayed by stunt performer Liang Yang and voiced by sound editor David Acord, is identified as FN-2199 in the anthology book Star Wars: Before the Awakening (2015) by Greg Rucka. The trooper, armed with a "Z6 baton" and dubbed "TR-8R" by fans, quickly inspired multiple memes and fan art. Actor/director Kevin Smith also voiced a stormtrooper in the Takodana sequence.
In Star Wars Rebels, different voice actors have provided the voices of the stormtroopers, including Dee Bradley Baker, Steven Blum, Clancy Brown, Greg Ellis, Dave Filoni, Liam O'Brien, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Stephen Stanton, Greg Weisman, Gary Anthony Williams, and Matthew Wood.
Stormtroopers have become cultural icons, and a widely recognized element of the Star Wars franchise. In 2015, an Imperial stormtrooper helmet from The Empire Strikes Back that was expected to sell at auction for $92,000 actually sold for $120,000.
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In recognition of such fandom, the 501st and its fan-created backstory of being Darth Vader's personal legion of stormtroopers known as "Vader's Fist" have now actually been adopted into official Star Wars continuity.
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