With Star Wars: Episode IX set to conclude the Skywalker saga, fans are closely scrutinizing the preceding films in hope of figuring out how everything ties together. The Sith Troopers are among the most mysterious aspects of The Rise of Skywalker, and one that we’re especially curious about. Do these red-armored baddies report to Emperor Palpatine, Kylo Ren, or the First Order? While their loyalties remain a mystery, a bold theory suggests that a line from The Force Awakens laid the groundwork for the Sith Troopers’ debut in Episode IX and explains their origins all at once.
Warning! Speculative spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Official Star Wars marketing materials describe Sith Troopers as elite stormtroopers who draw their power from the Dark side. That could mean that they’re ancient Sith, they were simply trained in the Dark side of the Force, or they’re a very special kind of clone. And if that third option is correct, Kylo Ren may have already dropped a major clue regarding the Sith Troopers back in Star Wars: Episode VII.
The line in question comes during a tense exchange between Kylo and General Hux as they attempt to capture BB-8 not long after Finn defects from the First Order:
Hux: Supreme Leader Snoke was explicit. Capture the droid if we can, but destroy it if we must.
Kylo: How capable are your soldiers, General?
Hux: I won’t have you question my methods.
Kylo: They’re obviously skilled at committing high treason. Perhaps Leader Snoke should consider using a clone army.
Hux: My men are exceptionally trained — programmed from birth —
Kylo: Then they should have no problem retrieving the droid unharmed.
As you likely recall, the original clone army from the prequels became the first generation of Stormtroopers after Emperor Palpatine defeated the Jedi and created the Galactic Empire. However, The First Order has never used clones, instead kidnapping and training children as part of a program called Project Resurrection.
Here, however, it seems Kylo Ren is suggesting the First order switch back to clones. Does he know something that the audience didn’t? Was Kylo referring to a secret clone army at the waiting? And could that army actually be the Sith Troopers coming in Episode IX?
Perhaps General Hux knew all along that Emperor Palpatine would return and needed his Sith army at his disposal. It would explain why Hux was so mad at Kylo’s suggestion. (But then, Hux is always angry.) Still, the idea that the Sith Troopers have been around far longer than audiences realized makes sense. They couldn’t have popped out of nowhere, right? It’s even possible that the Clone troopers and the Sith Troopers are one and the same, an army of secret clones saved by Palpatine for a rainy day.
This isn’t the first time we’ve speculated the Sith Troopers could be clones. One theory posited they were a latter-day army created using Jango Fett’s genetic blueprint for cloning. Maybe Palpatine’s refined the formula sometime over the intervening decades, giving these new troopers a dash of sinister Dark side seasoning.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20.