First 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Clip Introduces New Stormtroopers

<p><em>Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker</em></p>   |   Courtesy of Disney
It's a tradition at this point for the bad guys to get redesigns.

The first official clip from next month’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been released, continuing a tradition for the franchise that has been in place since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back — namely, the introduction of new Stormtrooper designs.

The brief (just 30 seconds!) clip debuted Monday morning on Twitter, featuring Rey, Chewbacca, C3-PO, Finn and Poe Dameron being pursued by Stormtroopers on vehicles that look not unlike refitted versions of the Batpod from The Dark Knight, before — to the surprise of our heroes — two Stormtroopers take off into the air. As is noted in the repeated punchline to the scene, they can fly now.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and not just because audiences have had villains on jetpacks since Boba Fett showed up more than three decades ago. These aren’t even the first flying Stormtroopers in the wider franchise; the so-called Jumptroopers have showed up on Star Wars Rebels, as well as in the video game Star Wars: Battlefront, which does raise the question of quite why they seem so surprising to everyone in the movie if the technology is decades old at the very least.

Beyond that, though, there’s the fact that the new Flying Troopers are just the latest in a long line of suitably toyetic revisions to the classic armor for the bad guys that might lead you to wonder just why the Empire, and then the First Order, didn’t think about a more all-purpose design in the first place. The Stormtroopers of the original movie were joined by the Snowtroopers of The Empire Strikes Back, the Scout Troopers of Return of the Jedi, the clone troopers of the prequel trilogy and the Shoretroopers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, not to mention the more subtle redesign for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Stormtroopers continually getting redesigned with the flimsiest of excuses is, legitimately, a pre-existing (and fun!) part of the Star Wars experience. No wonder, then, that the new clip already feels so Star Wars-ish just in 30 seconds.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to be released Dec. 20.