The name of Kylo Ren's Sith Trooper battalion in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker takes inspiration from Darth Vader's famous 501st Legion. Lucasfilm has characteristically remained tight-lipped about Star Wars 9 plot details during the marketing campaign thus far, but they have revealed some nuggets of information to satisfy fans' cravings for reveals. Sith Troopers, the latest stormtrooper variant, have been a key part of promotion, highlighted at San Diego Comic-Con and the D23 Expo. How they specifically factor into the narrative remains a mystery, though the rumor is they're part of Palpatine's secret fleet.
Unsurprisingly, given their striking red armor, the Sith Troopers are going to be featured on plenty of tie-in merchandise and should be the stars of next month's Triple Force Friday event. Back in August, a t-shirt seemingly confirmed the Sith Troopers answer only to Kylo Ren and the other Knights of Ren, giving the sequel trilogy villain his own personal army to command. On-paper, it sounds similar to Darth Vader's 501st, and it appears that wasn't lost on Lucasfilm.
Reddit user Brus25 posted a picture of a new Sith Trooper shirt, which refers to the battalion as the 105th. Star Wars fans will probably notice that's simply 501st backwards, implying that this battalion gets its name from Vader's.
The 501st Legion, of course, originated as a fan group in the 1990s and has grown in prominence since. They have over 10,000 members worldwide and frequently participate in charity and volunteer work. George Lucas eventually paid homage to the real-life 501st by referencing them in official Star Wars canon. The 501st have made numerous appearances across various mediums, and it's nice to see Lucasfilm continue to tip their hat to the organization. Obviously, Vader is not alive during the events of the sequel trilogy, so the 501st was probably defunct after Return of the Jedi. Naming Kylo Ren's personal battalion the 105th might be a little cute for some, but it's simply Lucasfilm's way of acknowledging what the real-life 501st does. There's a possibility "the 105th" isn't even said out loud during the film, but fans will still get a kick out of knowing this.
Circling back to the Sith Troopers, there's still much to learn about them and it'll be interesting to see what else Lucasfilm unveils during these last few months of advertising. Even though the Sith Troopers have been revealed, they've yet to be seen in actual footage from the movie, raising questions about how they fit in. Perhaps tie-in merchandise will provide some clues for viewers, but Lucasfilm always keeps spoilers to a minimum - even more so when The Rise of Skywalker is concerned. Fortunately, only a few months remain until fans get to see the movie.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019