The Empire used more than just the standard Stormtroopers to enforce their will in the original Star Wars movies, from the Snowtroopers on Hoth to the Scout Troopers on Endor. When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story jumps back in time to explore events that happened shortly before A New Hope, moviegoers will meet the Death Troopers, the black-clad operatives who look way more intimidating than their white-uniformed brethren. However, it turns out that the Death Troopers are based off concept art created decades ago, when Star Wars hadn't yet become a pop culture juggernaut.
While being interview at Star Wars Celebration this past weekend, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards revealed to The Star Wars Show how he stumbled onto designs for Stormtroopers made from when the first Star Wars movie was still being developed, and he used them as inspiration for the Death Troopers. He explained:
The Death Troopers were officially revealed in the first Rogue One teaser trailer back in April, and the recent Celebration behind-the-scenes footage showed a little bit more of them in action. Not only are they the best of the best in the Imperial military (at the very least, they can aim properly), but evidently they only accept tall recruits. Even though the Empire's rise to power and eventual defeat has already been told, there's always a chance the Death Troopers could appear again in another prequel tale, like in the Han Solo movie or Star Wars Rebels.
You can hear Gareth Edwards' full comments in the clip below, including how it felt going from being a regular Star Wars fan to directing one of its movies.
The Death Troopers won't be the only specialized Imperial soldiers in Rogue One. The movie will also feature Shoretroopers, who serve as the Empire's Marine corps and will be patrolling the beaches near a top-secret Imperial bunker. These particular factions will be under the command of Imperial Military Director Orson Krennic, and it's their job to stop the Rebels who are trying to steal the plans to the first Death Star. The Death Troopers will also reportedly be one of Rogue One's main merchandising focuses, so expect to see a lot of them in stores later this year.
You can watch the Death Troopers targeting Rebel scum when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters on December 16.