The first Clone Troopers are seen in Episode II and every fan knows that they were clones of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett.
Audiences got to know the clones as individuals through the animated series, The Clone Wars and we learned a lot about the troopers (if you haven’t seen the season 6 episodes, I recommend you do). After the Republic fell, I believe the Emperor would have stopped using the clones almost immediately for at least two reasons. The first reason is Order 66. The Emperor bred Order 66 into the clones to turn against their leaders and then he became their leader.
If I were the Emperor the first thing I would do would be to eliminate the clones for my own safety.
Even if Order 66 was Jedi-specific then during 18 years between Episode III and Episode IV many (if not all) of the Clones would have died of old age. As Obi-Wan was told during his tour of the cloning facility in Episode II, the clones were designed to age rapidly in order to get them on the field as soon as possible, this would have meant that the clones had a shortened life span. With Jango killed at the end of Episode II and Boba gone (he is not seen again until Episode IV) the cloners no longer have access to the original source material and eventually close down the cloning facility. Why not just clone a clone? If you’ve seen Michael Keaton’s film Multiplicity then you know to never make a copy of a copy.
During the first 18 years of the Empire, the Imperial Academy is founded and begins accepting applicants for the various military positions. Some are officer material, others are pilots or techs, but the vast majority become Stormtroopers. When Disney started advertising the new Rebels animated series, they released promotional material that simulated recruiting posters from the Imperial Academy. If the Emperor was still using Clones he would not have needed recruiting propaganda so I see this as evidence that the troopers in the original trilogy are individuals. Han Solo was a graduate of the Imperial Academy (his pants included the Imperial Blood Strip honour) and became a smuggler after he freed a certain Wookie who was earmarked an Imperial slave. Even Luke Skywalker intended to join the Imperial Academy as he told his Uncle Owen in Episode IV. While the Stormtroopers never take off their helmets, we do know the Stormtroopers are individuals as each has a unique voice through the masks.
The biggest complaint most fans have had about the Stormtroopers since 1977 – they couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. While investigating dead Jawas, Obi-Wan said, “…only Imperial Stormtroopers are so accurate…” then suggests that Stormtroopers killed the Jawas. Earlier in Episode IV the Stormtroopers were an effective fighting machine as they took control of an enemy ship in just minutes. It was a quick and deadly attack.
Then why, when Luke and the others rescue the Princess, do the Stormtrooper act like the Keystone Cops?
If the Stormtroopers are a professionally trained army then why can’t they stop a couple of smugglers, droids and a farm boy? When Grand Moff Tarkin is first told of the disturbance in the cell he tells Darth Vader, “She could still be of some use to us.” It is Tarkin who has the idea to put a tracking device on the Millennium Falcon and to then follow the ship straight to the Rebel base. There is only one problem with Tarkin’s plan – the Falcon needs to be able to escape the Death Star in such a way that will not arouse suspicion. Tarkin orders the Stormtroopers to ignore any problems with the tractor beam, knowing that one of the Rebels will try to disengage the beam, allowing Vader to deal with Obi-Wan after the tractor beam is disengaged. Tarkin then orders the Stormtroopers to give chase, but to ensure that none of the Rebels are killed. This is the only reason why the Rebels are able to escape. Leia believes they are being tracked as it’s the only explanation for “…the ease of their escape.” She’s not only referring to the brief TIE Fighter attack, but the Stormtrooper’s lack of shooting skills as well.
During the first 20 years of the Empire, the sight Stormtroopers landing on a planet sent fear through the world’s population.
They were brutal and unwavering, many might even say they are far worse than their predecessors, the Clone Troopers who at least followed the Jedi’s moral compass.
I would like to see one of the stand alone films focus on what happens to the Clone Troopers as they swiftly aged beyond usefulness. Did Captain Rex serve at Vader’s side as he once did Anakin’s? Or were the clones taken away and eliminated to ensure that Order 66 was never used against the Emperor? Who knows, but what we do know is that we have least another decade of films to discover the truth.