Earlier today, my cousin tweeted a link to an article on Cracked.com called “The Biggest Star Wars Plot Hole, Explained by Science.”
I read through it bemusedly, got a chuckle, and then realized that the article’s own reasoning was flawed. It overlooked a big, glaring factor in the imagined lack of accuracy among stormtroopers and the Imperial military in general.
Being the awful OCD suffering dude I am, I was compelled finally to blog for the first time in while. Work’s left me creatively drained the last couple of weeks, so once my dander was up I had to take the opportunity.
The Supposed Incompetence of the Imperial Military
Some have built careers on one-note Star Wars jokes, and a lot of times fanboys gravitated to their favorite topic. Namely, the perception that stormtroopers couldn’t hit squat. So let’s actually look at the films and see how accurate that is.
Now, I’m going to focus first on the “Original Trilogy” because when you hear “stormtrooper” you think 1977-1983. 1999-Present (really 2002, but 1999 shows why the clones were created) is the era of the “Clone Trooper,” and if you’re going to debate the efficacy of a fighting force that torched the entire Jedi Order…I mean, come on.
Being the orderly chap I am, I’ll organize this into two lists. The first is the list demonstrating Imperial military dominance. The second will be a list of perceived flaws or errors, along with explanations that have long satisfied my own mind and therefore should be sufficient for all. 😛
- Episode IV: Battle on the Tantive IV. The opening battle on the Tantive IV (the ship that’s running away from the Star Destroyer at the beginning of the original Star Wars film) shows the Empire drop the hammer, and hard. They stormed a ship filled with rebels fighting for their lives, in cramped hallways, under the direct command of Darth Vader. It was a clear win.
- Episode IV: Jawas. They not only tortured and murdered the poor devils, they made it look like someone else did it. Pretty slick. Only a former Jedi with direct combat experience with what became the Imperial military sniffed them out.
- Episode IV: Owen & Beru Lars. They burned them alive, for goodness’ sake. No witnesses, cold and calculating so that, if anyone did figure out it was the Empire, the message would be clear: challenge the State and your powerful Leaders, who know better than you, at your own peril.
- Episode IV: Battle of the Death Star. Oh, I’m sorry, they were actually beating the snot out of the rebels until the Son of Skywalker got a late assist from his friend and got in a shot that was, essentially, destined to hit. I’m not going to deduct points when the Universe Itself determines you’re going to lose. Talk about a stacked deck.
- Episode V: Hoth. They used five AT-AT walkers and a sparse ground force and nearly wiped the core rebel command out of existence. By comparison, on the Battle of Geonosis (Attack of the Clones), the Republic sent in about a million troops and nearly every ship they had. And that was a draw.
- Episode VI: The Space Battle. Again, the Universe turned against them. They were hammering the rebels into oblivion when suddenly, a key component of their strategy crumbled and allowed a handful of fighters to get in to blow up the second Death Star and rout their forces.
Notable Imperial Ineffectiveness
- Episode IV: Rebels escape. Which, of course, was part of the Empire’s (back-up?) plan to track them to their base. It doesn’t help, either, when you have (once again) the most powerful Force user in a generation fighting you. You’re basically screwed.
- Episode V: Rebels escape. Barely, and only thanks to the droid that originally belonged to the long-lost love of the man trying to capture them. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just blow your mind?
- Episode VI: Forest Battle. This is the one everybody loves to pick out and pick on. Oh, the Ewoks. The Ewoks beat the Empire. Oh, that’s so silly. Except not really. You know who really led the rally against the Empire on Endor?
Mutha–F***in’ Chewbacca, that’s who! The Ewoks were getting their furry butts handed to them until Chewie swung into action, hijacked an AT-ST, piloted it by himself (it was a two-pilot affair, and he did it solo), and started laying waste to the Imperials. This allowed the Munchkins in Fur to get their act together and spring their elaborate Rube Goldberg Death Traps.
All of this brings us to why, in the words of the snotty, hipster-driven Cracked article, the troopers couldn’t stop “a space hillbilly, a gigolo, a pampered socialite and a furry version of Sloth from the Goonies.” (Gotta love those old, tired jokes.)
The Final Reason They Couldn’t Stop the Heroes
Because they’re the heroes.
We get enough source material to show that the troopers are actually fairly efficient and good at their job. We get enough to let us know that they’re dangerous. That’s what we need to know.
So there’s your explanation. Stop trying to turn everything into Star Trek by over-analyzing everything through the filter of a half-assed understanding of science.
Otherwise, I’m going to start harping on the fact that Worf got slapped around like a b*tch so much on TNG that he had to leave the show and go to DS9. Tough aliens were showing up just for the chance to bounce him around like a super–ball, and he’s supposed to be the tough one on the crew? Blow it out your Warp Coil.
Sorry for the cheap shot at Star Trek. It’s just that every time one of these things comes up with Star Wars I’m reminded of how much Trek is allowed to skate on these sorts of things.
But in short, stormtroopers get short shrift and you should totally write me in as your next President.