Imperial Director Krennic’s personal security detail, the imposing jet black Death Troopers, were just one of the new adversaries the Rebels had to deal with in the first standalone Star Wars movie, Rogue One, and they were good at it, too. Besides helping Lyra Erso shuffle off this mortal coil with a blaster shot to the chest, they also made sure Rogue One all-stars Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus were no longer living by the time the credits rolled. Don’t forget about those poor Death Star engineers on Eadu, either. It’s grizzly stuff for sure, not only because you couldn’t figure out anything the Death Troopers were saying to each other.
According to the behind-the-scenes book The Art of Rogue One, the walkie-talkie chatter of the Death Troopers was meant to be gibberish to us, but meant something to them. Within the Star Wars universe, the weird mechanical sounds are due to a device implanted in the Death Trooper helmets that scrambles their speech to make it indecipherable to anyone not wearing a Death Trooper helmet.
It’s a great little detail embedded in the movie, with loads of fascinating little details, and drives home the point that the Death Troopers are an elite squad of bad guys not to be trifled with.
Aside from explaining that Rogue One director Gareth Edwards approved the design of the deadly string bean troopers from a stormtrooper design by original trilogy concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, the Art of Rogue One books also explains that Edwards wanted the Death Trooper design to be much weirder, but still recognizable to fans of The Empire Strikes Back.
“He wanted to make it clear through the design, to show that the brain was gone by giving them helmets that no human could actually wear,” concept artist Christian Alzmann says in the book. “They’d be like Lobot from Cloud City and could be controlled.”
Evil Lobot needs to happen in a Star Wars movie at some point.