The new Jet troopers in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker have a connection to the Stormtroopers from The Empire Strikes Back, which in turn pays homage to the iconic artist who designed them. Lucasfilm's upcoming final installment in the Skywalker saga aims to bring the nine-movie series to a close this year, which means J.J. Abrams' film not only pays off the stories and characters from all of those movies but also introduces new elements that culminate the franchise as well.
For instance, Ian McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine returns in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but to bolster the presence of the Sith, the sequel also brings the Sith troopers into the fold. Story details regarding the Sith's role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are being kept under wraps, but so far it's been revealed (thanks to merchandise) that the Sith troopers answer only to Kylo Ren - the new Supreme Leader of the First Order - and that they are part of a battalion of new troopers. The thing is, they aren't the only new Stormtroopers appearing in the film.
A combination of the First Order Stormtroopers and the Death troopers from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the all-new Jet troopers in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are clearly a force to be reckoned with. But upon closer examination, it appears that the insignia on the Jet troopers' chest armor heavily resembles the one from Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for The Empire Strikes Back's Snowtroopers. Although that marking didn't make the cut all those years ago, Lucasfilm finally brought it into canon, albeit with some changes.
Despite there being an obvious similarity between the two insignia, as well as the fact that the trooper helmets are of comparable shapes (including the ones worn by the Empire's Tank troopers), the graphic itself has been tweaked slightly. It's unclear what McQuarrie's original design meant, but it easily could've been associated with the trooper class, regiment, or something else related to the Imperial Army. In this case, it may determine the class of the Jet troopers in the First Order. But that still remains to be seen.
Aside from the insignia resembling the one from The Empire Strikes Back concept art, the Jet troopers in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are designed to "soar into battle," according to their placard from the D23 Expo. Of course, they can do that thanks to their jet packs, which have been fused into the armor itself, instead of being attached as was the case for other jet troopers in the Star Wars franchise. But overall, the Jet troopers appear to be yet another evolution of the core Stormtrooper design, and one that clearly takes inspiration from the original trilogy.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019