Editorial: Star Wars: Episode 7 Revenge of the Stormtroopers!
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!
Recently I chronicled the rumor that Gwendoline Christie is perhaps playing a Stormtrooper, or a Sith, depending on what you want to believe. According to the latest rumor she is playing a Stormtrooper Commander hunting down a Stormtrooper deserter rumored to be played by John Boyega. All this talk of Stormtroopers makes this Blogger wonder: What’s up with all the Stormtroopers? You’ll find out after you make the jump.
If you’re like me then you probably take Stormtroopers for granted. I do and have in the past. The “Evil Empire’s” army of faceless grunts are supposed to strike fear into the opressed citizenry of the galaxy far, far away. And while they burst onto the cinematic scene with full bravado and imposing effectiveness — just ask the Tantive V crew — they quickly turn into a rather un-impressive and sorry lot of Keystone Kops. I mean, eventually we learn that they are such poor shots they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. Sure, these big, bad Stormies are vicious when it comes to Jawas and Ewoks, even though they couldn’t defeat the latter in Episode VI, they are relatively useless during the entire course of the Original Trilogy. They have become, dare I say, background noise just slightly better than scenery.
As we voraciously consume every morsel of “news” and rumor and speculation revolving around everyone’s favorite movie-in-production, we can kind of start to see patterns emerge. One of the few tid-bits we know for sure, because it’s been confirmed twice, is that Stormtroopers WILL appear in, at the very least, Episode VII. We know this because as Viral Hide reported at the time, Kevin Smith visited the set of Episode VII around the beginning of July. Kevin then went on his movie show:
Due to the non-disclosure agreement, Smith couldn’t say much more but he gave his co-host Ralph Garman a pad with some words to read out which he then nodded to in agreement. When asked, “did you see Stormtroopers?” Smith nodded his head with the biggest smile on his face.
Coincidentally, J. J. Abrams, Episode VII director, perhaps as a nod to his fellow director, did likewise in a recent interview with Flickering Myth:
In his recent interview with Flickering Myth, Abrams gave a hint that there will be certain characters who will return in the upcoming film including George Lucas’ fictional ‘Star Wars‘ soldiers, the Stormtroopers. Abrams did not say a word about it, but he did nod and smile when asked if such characters would return.
Okay, so I think it’s safe to say Stormtroopers return. Big whoop! But then we’re also hearing a few interesting rumors that some of the Announced actors will be playing them. Wait! What?! You don’t cast talented actors to play inglorious extras, but this is exactly what the rumors are telling us as I reported last week, according to MakingStarWars:
Could be incorrect but this sounds like it backs up something I was told by someone working on the film. They said Stormtroopers play a major role, the empire still very much exists and that Gwendoline Christie plays a rogue stormtrooper who wears silver armour.
The silver armor bit may sound totally like really bad fan-fiction at first, but Viral Hide posted an article a while ago that suggested that the Stormtroopers and their armor had evolved. (Perhaps silver as the armor finish of the Stormtrooper Commander???) If you think about it for more than a second of knee-jerk reaction it makes sense given the thirty year (give or take) time span. It also sounds from some of the rumors flying around that Stormtrooper armor may have been modified to resemble Lord Vader. At any rate, this Christie rumor didn’t get a lot of traction at first. But later on we started hearing even more rumors regarding Stormtroopers, this time from BadAss Digest:
As others have said, Boyega plays a storm trooper. A storm trooper who basically deserts and teams up with Daisy Ridley’s character.
As we all know John and Daisy spent quite a bit of time together in Abu Dhabi, filming scenes on the [presumed] Tatooine sets. In fact, the scuttlebutt among some of the Bloggers here is that they play the roles of “Rachel” and “Thomas” from last year’s open casting call . . . so shut up and eat your apple!
This past week BadAss Digest struck again with a very interesting bit of “insider information” which suggested and/or revealed some very intriguing details about Christie and Boyega’s characters:
According to my sources Gwendoline Christie is playing John Boyega’s commanding officer in Star Wars Episode VII, and she’s mad that he deserted. She’s looking for him. She’s an antagonist.
UPDATE: I’m have new info that puts things in new perspectives. She’s definitely hunting Boyega. I think she’s an Imperial officer, but I got one more piece of information that puts everything in a new light:
The actress has been training with a lightsaber.
Could she be an Imperial officer who has a lightsaber? Or is it something more? I’m hearing the S word.
With the infamous “S” word so closely associated with lightsaber training we are led to believe Christie may be playing a Sith Lord (or would that be Sith Lady/Baroness?), which is very exciting, although IF this is the same gender neutral character that Devin Faraci of BadAss Digest believes it to be, I find it very difficult to believe that Benedict Cumberbatch would’ve been up for the part of a Stormtrooper. Cumby as a Sith Lord — as Latino Review swore up and down to be — or Imperial Officer makes perfect sense, if you’ve seen any of his Sherlock episodes. It stands to reason that Christie is playing like character — Imperial Officer or Sith. However, Latino Review recently published their piece about the BadAss speculation and even added in their own source about John Boyega selecting a lightsaber hilt as well:
BadAss said that Gwendoline Christie was seen training with a lightsaber and I’ve also heard (though I can’t remember where) that John Boyega had chosen a lightsaber hilt…
Why would Stormtroopers need lightsabers? Well, as Latino Review astutely speculated they suspect this is because Stormtroopers now readily use lightsabers according to the original Ralph McQuarrie concept paintings for Episode IV. This would explain how both Christie and Boyega could be playing Stormtroopers while also using lightsabers. It would also make the weapon common to even those who may or may not have Force sensitivity and give the [presumed] New Jedi Order many, many more types of villains to duel with — forebodes much chaos in the galaxy that even non-Force types are recklessly wielding lightsabers.
This is a very thrilling and plausible possibility. For one thing, as J. J. has demonstrated in the past with his shows Alias and Lost, he enjoys having gray characters, characters that may seem evil and are really pretty good and vice-versa. Secondly, the Stormtroopers, while iconic, are NOT nearly the threat they were in Episode IV. Could it be that J. J. has targeted this little, over-looked and greatly taken-for-granted detail and dug his claws in with the intent to make the Stormtroopers, and by extension the Evil Empire, menacing again? After all, it appears the Empire didn’t fall over night. And why would it? The Empire lost
one TWO battles and two measly, little Death Star space stations in the process. So what? Well, uhhh, yeah, they also lost two very important leaders, but they’re an EMMM-PIRE!!! Who would fear and respect such an “evil” entity that would crumble so easily?! Whose troops would pack it up and go home after two petty defeats?! So it appears that the Empire still exists OR, at the very least, has regrouped and has presumably transformed a bit. Either way, according to some rumors that Viral reported it appears that Stormtroopers are as prevalent as ever, purportedly seen at both the Puzzlewood and Iceland locations.
This leads me to another interesting point. John “Dak” Morton offered speculation a while ago that the Simon Kinberg produced Rebels would introduce characters that we would eventually see in Episode VII. This makes some sense IF some of those characters are Stormtroopers. What I mean by that is, I suspect that Rebels will not only tell the story of the seminal formative years of the Rebel Alliance, but will also show in more depth how the Empire really operates. It will humanize the Stormtroopers as real people who volunteered for the legion to protect peace and order, as the marketing & Faux Propaganda campaign for Rebels so beautifully illustrates. And we now know as canon, clearing up a bit of confusion, that the Stormtroopers are NOT clones from an Empire Online interview Dave Filoni did back in May:
EO: Speaking of generations, are they Stormtroopers rather than Clone Troopers in this series?
DF: Oh, they’re using Stormtroopers, yeah. I’ll give you the big nerdy breakdown. In my opinion, having made The Clone Wars and now working with Stormtroopers, I would say that a Clone trooper could outgun a Stormtrooper rather easily. A Clone trooper was bred, born, raised to be a soldier. Lucky for them, the Jedi gave them a lot of personality, but they were very dedicated soldiers. Stormtroopers are drafted into service; you can join through academies. If you watch A New Hope they stand around and say, ‘Hey, you seen the new BT-16?’ They seem interested in their job but you question their dedication. They’re treated as expendable by the Empire, and they definitely can’t shoot anything. When Obi Wan says, ‘Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise’, I think he’s making that up on the fact that he used to fight with clones, so he assumes that a Stormtrooper is really good. Much to his shock those guys can’t hit an R2 unit in a naked hallway, let alone be precise. So I like Stormtroopers, I find them very interesting. The Stormtroopers have better gear, better weapons in a lot of ways but it’s just a different war they are fighting than the Clone troopers’ was.
Filoni agrees with my assessment that Stormtroopers aren’t that menacing. So, aside from humanizing the Empire’s lethal shock troopers, I suspect we’ll see a hearty dose of revival, in both Rebels as well as Episode VII, injecting them with more shock and awe while subtracting the inept “D’oh!’ Giving them individual personalities, names, faces, and (possibly) LIGHTSABERS would give them verisimilitude and depth instead of merely being the two dimensional cardboard cutouts that rebels use for target practice; would go along way toward turning them from expendables into the gritty, elite Imperials we always thought they were.
Finally, and the last, most crucial element to the revival of the Stormtroopers is the civil war itself. On May the Fourth I posted a picture, as a joke, which depicted a child protesting the death of his Stormtrooper father on the first Death Star. My attempt at humor was to show that there are two perspectives to the Galactic Civil War — the Empire had many, many star systems supporting it and a legion of volunteers who believed in its philosophy. And many of these beings have family. In other words, to them, the Rebels ARE THE BAD GUYS. I suspect both Rebels and Episode VII will show how the Rebel Alliance, the Rebelscum, is viewed on a galactic scale, as outlaws, terrorists, and villains.
IF this is indeed the way J. J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, via George Lucas and Michael Arndt, have taken the script, Star Wars will become more than just a glorified look at spectacular space battles and become gritty and dirty in every way the word “war” elicits. Not super-gritty or dark, mind you, we’re talking about Disney here, after all, but enough to make the Stormtroopers fearsome and worthy to wear the ever scowling helmet of doom and also make the Empire EVIL once more, thus the danger very real to our beloved heroes. IF indeed J. J. Abrams goes this route he will have made movie magic in more ways than one by re-creating the “feel” of the Original Trilogy, whilst simultaneously giving the Stormtroopers their long-awaited revenge.