February 20, 2016
'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Set To Unleash 'Death Squad' Stormtroopers

With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens already two months in the past, fan attention is quickly shifting to director Garth Edwards' upcoming installment in the series. New reports from the set have hinted that the film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is set to shed new light on the state of the galaxy shortly before the beginning of the nearly four-decade-old franchise, starting with a hitherto unseen squad of fearsome stormtroopers.

Rogue One is set to feature a bevy of new looks for the classic stormtrooper design, and photos of several have already emerged from the production, as MovieWeb reports. Two distinct versions that feature black armor have already been noted, with one characterized by a longer facemask. It is believed that stormtroopers of this variation will be known as members of the "Death Squad," an army of black-clad, specialized troops. The second variant, known at this time as the "Death Trooper," more closely resembles the stormtrooper of the classic trilogy, yet with black armor.

These two new stormtroopers join several others that have been spotted during the production of Rogue One. The original Imperial stormtroopers featured in the first trilogy will appear in the film, alongside versions now known as a "Shark Yellow Trooper" and a "Pinnacle Trooper." The crowd is rounded out with a soldier called the "Scarab Trooper," though it remains to be seen what else will be unveiled prior to the film's release.

As with early reveals of Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (who was originally referred to as the "chrome trooper" on fan sites), little is known about the role of the Death Squad and Death Troopers in Rogue One. The name attached to the squadron actually hearkens back to the earliest days of Star Wars lore, however, when the larger universe surrounding the films was still in its infancy.

One of the first 12 Star Wars action figures to be released in the late 1970s was actually referred to as a commander of the Death Squad. The figure looked nothing like the black-clad stormtroopers of Rogue One, however, and was eventually rebranded as a Star Destroyer Commander, as Making Star Wars notes. With Edwards' film still nearly a year away from release, it is unknown whether the name is an intentional tribute to the early Star Wars toys, or merely a coincidence.Rogue One will see its own toyline released in September, with a dedicated Force Friday event similar to that which preceded the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When that highly anticipated event went down, fans poured over every detail in hopes of gleaning some bit of information into the new film, though the plot of Force Awakens remained admirably under wraps until release.

Early descriptions of the packaging for Rogue One's toyline have leaked, and they suggest that the film's heroes will be seen standing under the helmet of none other than Darth Vader, with a new white-clad villain also present in the artwork. While it remains to be seen if this rumor is true, the description does sound notably busier than the marketing design that graced Force Awakens toys, which centered on Kylo Ren.

The Force Friday event for Rogue One is scheduled for September 30, so fans still have plenty of time before more information is revealed. With 300 days between now and the film's release, however, the wait for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is just beginning.

[Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney]