Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
|Star Wars characters|
|First appearance||Star Wars (1977)|
|Last appearance||Rogue One (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 upgraded stormtroopers serve the First Order, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke and his commanders, most notably Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Captain Phasma.
The order of battle of the Stormtrooper Corps is unspecified in the Star Wars universe. Accompanying 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 Stormtrooper Corps swell in size after Palpatine completely replaced the clones with recruits and conscripts of the empire, though the replacement of clones with natural beings lowered the effectiveness of the Empire's 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, but rather 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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The military philosophy of the Galactic Empire was internally focused and heavily incorporated the "Tarkin-doctrine", which mandated "rule through fear of force", rather than "force itself", would ensure peace and stability across the galaxy. Unlike their Clone Wars predecessors, Imperial Stormtroopers were primarily an internal security and peacekeeping force that had never faced large scale conflict until the latter years of the Galactic Civil War. Disloyalty or failures were heavily punished and individualism was discouraged; command structure was sacred and disobeying orders (no matter how irrational) was forbidden. This meant Imperial Stormtroopers lacked improvisation and were highly ineffective when cut off from command, but also allowed the best trained soldiers who prefer death over retreat.
Unable to conscript millions of soldiers to fill its Stormtrooper ranks, yet unwilling to switch back to using a rapidly produced clone troopers, First Order Stormtroopers are bred, trained and indoctrinated from birth, raised their entire lives for no other purpose. First Order soldiers and crews have constantly trained for combat in war games and simulations, making them much more effective one-on-one than the endless waves of Stormtrooper conscripts fielded by the Galactic Empire. First Order Stormtroopers are regularly put through mental indoctrination and propaganda programs, to make sure that they remain fanatically loyal and never hesitate or question orders. Being taken from their families at birth, these soldiers are not even given individual names for themselves but merely serial numbers, such as "FN-2187".
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 prequel films establish the clone troopers as predecessors to the stormtroopers, and they were also the first generation of stormtroopers after the fall of the Republic. Clone trooper armor is typicially shown to have various colorings to denote rank or unit.
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 a stormtrooper unit from the Star Wars movies and Star Wars Legends continuity. Considered the best trained soldiers in the galaxy, they serve directly under the command of Darth Vader, who leads the 501st in the Jedi extermination. The 501st spearhead the assault upon the Tantive IV consular ship, and capture Princess Leia. During the Battle of Hoth, the 501st is instrumental in the destruction of the Rebel Alliance base, and nearly succeeds 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 is resurrected by Grand Admiral Thrawn, who in the Thrawn trilogy is charged with the defense of the "Hand of the Empire" imperial remnant forces. Thrawn's 501st is composed of aliens, normal humans and Jango Fett clones.
The First Order’s 501st units wear stark white armor derived from that worn by the Republic's clone troopers and the Empire’s stormtroopers. Members of this new generation of stormtroopers are trained from birth, growing up with unit designations instead of names and fed a steady diet of First Order propaganda to ensure absolute loyalty. Where the Empire opted for numbing routine, the First Order’s training simulations and live-fire drills encourage improvisation on the battlefield, making these stormtroopers more dangerous than their Imperial predecessors.
Within the original Star Wars trilogy, several types of "military occupation specialist" stormtrooper units are seen. These include:
- Imperial Sand Troopers seen on the desert world of Tatooine during Star Wars (1977) and on Jakku in 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 armor different from that of the regular stormtroopers.
- Imperial Snow Troopers 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 armor 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.
- Imperial Death Troopers are elite "wetwork" soldiers of Imperial Intelligence, encased in specialized armor with a dark, ominous gleam. These soldiers serve as bodyguards and enforcers for important imperial individuals, such as Director Krennic, a highly placed officer within the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Empire.
- Imperial Shore Troopers are amphibious combat specialists stationed at the top secret Imperial military headquarters on Scarif, These soldiers patrol the beaches and bunkers of the planetary facility.
- Imperial Combat Assault Tank Troopers, or CAT-troopers, operate the Empire’s arsenal of armored repulsor vehicles, from troop transports to heavily armored hovertanks. Combat drivers are lightly armored, relying instead on the thick skin of their vehicles to protect them in battle. The commander stays in contact with his crew and with headquarters to keep updated on changing combat conditions.
- 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.
- First Order Snow Troopers are assigned to frigid planets. They wear specialized armor and gear that let them operate effectively in icy conditions. Snowtroopers carry a backpack-style personal environment unit and wear insulated helmets with glare-reducing slit lenses, gloves, a kama, and a heat-resistant body glove beneath an oversuit of wind-resistant fabric. Snowtrooper teams scouted the planet that now housed Starkiller Base, eliminating native life forms that posed a potential threat.
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, Robin Atkin Downes, Sam Riegal, 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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