Star Wars 9 could contain a big Clone Wars reference care of the First Order's new Stormtroopers. In keeping with the Disney era, J.J. Abrams' final entry in the Skywalker Saga has been produced under a shroud of immense secrecy. Story details are unforthcoming, new cast members are yet to have firm character details, the shoot passed with nary a whimper, and fans are still clamoring for a title. But some details have made their way out; Abrams himself has shared a couple of photos from the set, and there have been various whispers beside.
One of the most pervasive reporting on Star Wars 9 has been about red Stormtroopers, a twist on the First Order's foot soldiers. The reports originate from Making Star Wars, who claimed the movie features "a solid red Stormtrooper with black stripes". The new variant fits Star Wars' constant push for new merchandise models, and the design itself has a strong tradition. The Emperor's and Snoke's guards were both decked in semi-reflective red, while the wider Star Wars canon has included two red First Order troopers already: Phasma's rival Captain Cardinal from her spinoff book, and Star Wars Resistance's pilot Elrik Vonreg.
However, this new design may owe more of a debt to the Star Wars prequels. Recently, Star Wars 9 crew members have shared production swag that features a new look Stormtrooper face. It has the same wide, droopy eye holes connected to form a mouth, but in the center there's a straight line connecting the two. Reddit user MilnersBlog created a mock-up based on the logo and reports, and what's so striking is how the redesign looks conspicuously like the Phase 2 Clone Troopers used by the Republic in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and later Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
While there's yet nothing to confirm this is exactly how the red Stormtroopers will look or whether the intention was to evoke the Star Wars prequels at all, the possibility is incredibly enticing. As the end of the nine-part story that's been told over 42 years, Star Wars 9 will be closing off multiple generations' worth of stories, so tying its events and designs into all areas makes a lot of sense. The Star Wars prequels may be still somewhat reviled by portions of the fanbase, but there's many who grew up with them - or had opinions shifted by The Clone Wars - who will appreciate the reference.
Already, many prequel ideas have influenced a lot of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. The idea of balance in the Force first introduced in The Phantom Menace defines the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, while Luke's disenfranchisement with the Jedi is rooted in the acts of "Darth Sidious" (a prequel namedrop). And, more pertinent to the red Stormtroopers, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren mused on the effectiveness of a clone army. This would be a little different as it's a more visual aspect, but that too could be positive; it would give the sequels, which so far have been overly rooted in the original trilogy aesthetic, an interesting combinational look.
Until Star Wars Celebration, which is expected to bring both a title and trailer for Star Wars 9, any details are subject to immense scrutiny but based on everything with the red Stormtrooper, things are looking rather promising.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019