When a film series is as monumental as Star Wars, any element - no matter how small - can become a worldwide phenomenon and capture the imagination of audiences. Last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens is no stranger to this; the stormtrooper Finn dueled with on Takodana (dubbed "TR-8R" by fans) become such a favorite that Lucasfilm eventually gave him his own backstory in the new canon. Though TR-8R was on-screen for a few moments and was blasted away by Han Solo in the battle, he became immortalized in his very own Hot Toys figure and was the film's most noteworthy meme.
After TR-8R was a scene-stealer, the team behind Star Wars: Episode VIII would be hard-pressed to top it. However, it would appear that they are going to give it their best shot. A new rumor about Star Wars 8 has just made its way online, and it details a brand new soldier fighting for the First Order.
The report comes courtesy of Making Star Wars, which has learned about a stormtrooper referred to as The Executioner. What sets him (or her) apart from the others is a black matte line that runs over half of the helmet. He apparently uses a weapon similar to TR-8R's, but a key difference is that it has three spinning blades at the end. A shield could also be part of The Executioner's design, but it is unknown if that will be included in the film. Making Star Wars has a sketch of what the stormtrooper could essentially look like, based on their description.
Another interesting detail included in the rumor is that Finn will go head-to-head with The Executioner, obviously a callback to his short encounter with TR-8R. It will be interesting to see how that confrontation plays out, since Finn appeared to be overmatched during his fight in Force Awakens. That said, the Resistance hero is said to be stronger than ever following his bacta therapy, so perhaps his improved physical state will give him an edge. Chances are, Finn will be using a weapon he's more comfortable with this time around (Rey has the lightsaber on Ahch-To), which will help as well.
Prior to the premiere of The Force Awakens, it was confirmed that stormtrooper leader Captain Phasma would be returning for Episode VIII, and many viewers were hopeful her part in the sequel would make up for what was an underwhelming presence in Star Wars 7. It seems odd, then, that Rian Johnson and company would create a character like The Executioner, which potentially could overshadow Phasma yet again. However, it's important to note that no details about Phasma's role in Episode VIII have come to light yet, so perhaps she could still have her redemption. Given the emphasis on Captain Phasma in marketing, it would be a shame if Gwendoline Christie was wasted for another glorified cameo.
After the stormtroopers were essentially faceless henchmen in the original trilogy, it's nice to see the sequel trilogy filmmakers having a bit of fun with them. In addition to TR-8R, The Force Awakens also included an amusing appearance from Daniel Craig in the white armor, and Episode VIII is said to have Tom Hardy be the new "Celebrity Stormtrooper" for a comedic scene. It seems like this will be one of the new movies' tropes, so time will tell what Colin Trevorrow comes up with for his Episode IX.
Source: Making Star Wars