The Mandalorian has introduced a stormtrooper with yellow markings on their armor – but what does this mean, and where does it originate it from?
The Mandalorian season 2 episode 6, “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” brought many exciting new developments to the show, including an unusual stormtrooper wearing armor with yellow markings. This was fairly easy to miss, as the trooper was one of many involved in a battle against Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, and Din Djarin, but the figure appears to be a new addition to Star Wars live-action canon.
Usually, the only real differentiation between conventional stormtroopers is the shoulder pauldrons worn by some, which marks them out as being of a specific rank or specialization. Even then, these aren’t especially common, as the vast majority of troopers shown throughout Star Wars are regular garden-variety soldiers, with the minimum in training – which could serve to explain why Stormtroopers are shown to have such infamously bad aim. They’re grunts sent out to do the dirty work, as they did in “The Tragedy”, distracting from the Dark Troopers’ mission to retrieve Baby Yoda from the seeing stone and escape.
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While these yellow-marked stormtroopers are a new addition to the roster, they are based on what has already been shown of how different types of stormtrooper units are denoted. Most notably, their yellow markings are exactly the same as the red markings of incinerator troops, who have also been shown in The Mandalorian, proving that this is indeed a purposeful similarity. As this yellow Stormtrooper is shown using explosives, this suggests the difference in armor reflects their proficiency with that weapon – supported by the fact that Star Wars merchandise gives this unit the title of “Mortar Stormtrooper”.
This isn’t the first time yellow troopers have been seen, but the logic behind them is different. During the Clone Wars, the elite 327th Star Corps (who appeared in Revenge of the Sith first) discarded their Phase I armor for the more advanced Phase II model and customized tit with distinctive yellow markings as an identification mark of the 327th specifically. Confusingly, they wore pauldrons as a mark of their elite status, not as a mark of command. The mortar trooper in The Mandalorian also has a pauldron that would typically identify him as an officer, but like the 327th, this would logically link to specialist status.
Interestingly, the incinerator troops were initially created in 2008 for the LucasArts game The Force Unleashed. In the lore for this game, it’s revealed that these units aren’t merely trained to be good with flamethrowers – they’re also raised to be obsessive pyromaniacs. While this trait may not extend to The Mandalorian troops – though being an explosives obsessive would be a benefit – as the game is a part of the Legends universe, which is considered to be non-canon, certain aspects of specialized troops like the mortar stormtrooper may have been carried into the show. These incinerator troopers were not merely used tactically, but also as a tactical show of force, given that the book Imperial Handbook: A Commander’s Guide states they are especially useful “to purge villages” in scorched earth tactics. As an extension of that logic, it would seem that the yellow trooper was also sent after Din Djarin and company both because of their practical use, but also as something of an intimidation tactic. The Handbook does also mention Bomb Squad Stormtroopers, but they dispose of bombs, instead of firing them – though this too speaks to the expanse of specialist troopers in canon.
It’s been no secret that The Mandalorian takes great care to use as much of the established Star Wars universe as it can, but this attention to detail in terms of the structure of the stormtroopers is especially good to note, given that it incorporates aspects that could have been thought to no longer be canon, and makes them a part of the new future of the franchise.
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