Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (February 2015)|
|Star Wars character|
Stormtrooper at the Elf Fantasy Fair
The Imperial Stormtroopers are fictional soldiers from George Lucas' Star Wars universe. They 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. The order of battle of the Stormtrooper Corps is unspecified in the Star Wars universe, but its numbers are far fewer than those of the Imperial Army's regular troopers. Despite this, the apparently high combat effectiveness of the Stormtroopers as well as their harsh reputation serve as the main reasons for deploying them almost exclusively in most of the military engagements of 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 is modified for special operations and environments.
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the first troopers were 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, the Clone troopers executed Order 66 under the command of Chancellor Palpatine, slaying their Jedi generals.
Initially, the stormtroopers serve as the army of the Galactic Empire, putting down revolts and establishing Imperial authority. They are the back bone of the Empire. 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 lowered the effectiveness of the Empire's famed soldiers.
With the Empire firmly stabilized and an Imperial Army/Imperial Navy established, the stormtroopers were integrated into Palpatine's personal army and were stationed on Imperial bases and cruisers, as well as on the Death Star. After Palpatine's initial defeat, the stormtroopers continued to serve under the factions that broke apart from the Empire after Palpatine's death.
The troopers' most distinctive equipment is their white battle armor, inherited from their time as clone troopers. The complete armor set completely encases the body and typically has no individually distinguishing marking (in contrast to the clone trooper armor, which typically had various colorings to denote rank or unit, Stormtrooper armor has no rank affiliation). Liz Moore and Nick Pemberton sculpted designs for the helmet. Their designs were based on conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie. The armor pieces of the costume were also designed from conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie. Brian Muir, who was also responsible for sculpting Darth Vader, sculpted armor pieces for the stormtrooper costume in the Art Department at Elstree Studios. The suit was moulded and initially cast in plaster. Then Muir sharpened the detail at the plaster stage. The plaster casts were then remolded and cast in fibreglass to use as the "tools" for vacuum forming process. 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 armor has also been the subject of light humor for years regarding its functionality. This is due to it making its wearer easy to be seen, restricting his movement and range of vision, and seeming to offer no real protection from blaster fire. One possible explanation for its continued use is that its purpose is to protect against projectile weapons (i.e. automatic guns) which have a much greater speed and rate of fire than blasters; because such weapons would be ineffective against the armor, they are never used.
The copyright status of the armor design has undergone legal challenges. In the US it has been ruled to be under copyright. However a 2011 UK court decisions considered it to be industrial design, which is only protected for 15 years, and thus the armor design is now in the public domain at least in the UK (and probably throughout the European Union).
Within the original Star Wars trilogy, a number of specialized Stormtrooper units are seen. These include:
- Sandtroopers seen on the desert world of Tatooine during Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. 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 different stomach armor to that of the regular Stormtroopers.
- Snowtroopers seen in the assault on Echo Base in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back on Hoth, and in the video games Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire on the Nintendo 64, as well as Lego Star Wars II are regular stormtroopers clad in subzero armor. Their helmets and armor are different, with goggles and a breather hood.
- Imperial Scout troopers seen in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. They are trained in survival skills for all terrains, and are also seen in Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed as snipers.
Within the Expanded Universe media such as games and comics, a number of specialized stormtrooper units are seen. 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 the trademark stormtrooper helmet. In Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, they are also wearing life jackets. Shadowtroopers appear in Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast wearing black armor made from a lightsaber-resistant metal called cortosis. This armor has a green synthetic gem set into the breastplate which gives the wearer Force powers. Their armor 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 prey, 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 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.
In popular culture
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- During the January 1, 2007 Tournament of Roses Parade, the largest conglomeration of Imperial Stormtroopers ever marched in step. George Lucas served as Grand Marshal. The Stormtroopers were all part of the 501st Legion international fan costuming group.
- The Stormtrooper effect, a common cliché in action movies, was named after these soldiers and their poor marksmanship when encountering major protagonists.
- Members of The 501st Legion parade in Stormtrooper costumes, along with numerous other Star Wars characters at Star Wars Weekends.
- Star Wars Battlefront II, LucasArts
- Jackson, Peter (27 July 2011). "Lucas loses Star Wars copyright case at Supreme Court". BBC News. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Imperial stormtroopers.|
- Stormtroopers in the Official StarWars.com Encyclopedia
- Stormtrooper on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki