The Stormtrooper is one of the most iconic and enduring Star Wars costumes of all time. The white armor, unmistakable helmet and laser blaster at the ready are easily recognizable, even by those who have never watched the films. However, what most people don’t know is that there were Stormtroopers that wore black armor instead of white, and they were a far cry from the cookie-cutter minions portrayed in the movies.
These black-clad soldiers were the Shadow Troopers, and they were not to be trifled with. Originally a recon unit under the service of the Republic, their role began to dramatically change after the raise of the Galactic Empire. During the Great Jedi Purge, starting in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine created an elite group of force-sensitive soldiers known as the Emperor’s Shadow Guard.
Led by the Dark Side prophet known as Shadowspawn, the Emperor’s Shadow Guard enlisted only the cream of the crop within the Empire’s army. And the kings of their black ops, covert missions and assassinations were the Shadow Troopers.
Shadow Trooper costumes look much like a black version of the regular Stormtrooper at first glance, but in reality, many parts have subtle differences – most noticeably, the helmet and leg guards. This black coating is more than just for looks. Shadow Trooper armor has built in cloaking devices, which allow them to become invisible for short periods of time.
As if invisibility and being the most elite military team of the Star Wars universe were not enough, the fact that they are force-sensitive implies that they can actually be taught to control the force. Indeed, in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Shadow Troopers wield lightsabres and are able to use some Dark Side abilities, such as lightning.
This is one of those little-known Star Wars costumes, mostly because the Shadow Trooper was never depicted on film. Their appearances are always in books, games or comics that take place before, between or after the movies. For instance, Luke and Leia face off against Shadow Troopers in a series of comic strips published in 1979, where they go to the planet Vorzyd 5 in the hopes of garnering allies and support for the Rebellion. This story takes place between the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
They appear once again after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, where Shadowspawn made a bid to become the new Galactic Emperor after the death of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. This all takes place in the novel ‘Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor’.
Shadow Troopers are very rare and near mythical characters. Out of the hundreds of games, comics, novels, cartoons, sketchbooks, movies and countless other media used to tell Star Wars related stories; they have only appeared in two comic books, three video games and two novels. Merely 7 appearances, a meager amount compared to the almost 300 stories featuring the more familiar Stormtrooper.
That makes Shadow Trooper Halloween costumes one of the rarest and most interesting Star Wars themed outfits out there. For added effect, both a red lightsabre and a blaster pistol make great accessories for this most unusual of Star Wars costumes, and definitely a joy to wear for any Star Wars buff.