Terrible Stormtrooper Aim Makes Han And Luke The Real Villains Of Star Wars

By Saralyn Smith | Published

Stormtrooper aim

There are a lot of fantastic things about the Star Wars films.  The action sequences, the epic mythology, hilarious behind-the-scenes stuff.  But there are also a lot of logical leaps and flat-out ridiculous things that fans have to either ignore or mercilessly mock to enjoy the films still.

One of the biggest of these absurdities is the ridiculous failure of Stormtroopers to come anywhere close to hitting the protagonists in close-quarters battles, even though all the characters talk about them as being deadly precise. And at times, we do see Stormtroopers lay waste during other battle sequences.  For years, Star Wars fans had to just dismiss this “Stormtrooper aim” as lazy or expedient filmmaking, but an analysis from Cracked says that there are psychological concepts and wartime statistics that can help explain it.

Studies of the behaviors of soldiers in war have revealed that, not only do most shots fired in battle go amiss, 80% of soldiers wouldn’t use their weapons at all.  They simply refuse to take part in that aspect of battle.  You would think that this trait would be weeded out of the Empire’s killing machines, but thanks to Finn in The Force Awakens, we know Stormtroopers have feelings, too.  

John Boyega
John Boyega as Finn in The Force Awakens

Shooting at small groups of scrappy Rebel kids just trying to survive?  It might not be the most frightening or threatening of targets.

Han, Luke, and Leia don’t seem to have a problem mowing down Stormtroopers, though.  For this, they cite the psychological concept of dehumanization, where people are more inclined to do harm to people they see as actually less than human.  

This can be done in a variety of ways – the Nazis did it through propaganda, all kinds of racial slurs do it, and, most pertinent to the Star Wars situation, uniforms.  The head-to-toe armor and face masks erased any hint of humanity the Stormtroopers might have had, making it far easier for the Rebels to mow them down.  This could account for why the Stormtroopers hit their targets more often in larger battle scenes with proper Rebel soldiers – the Rebels are wearing uniforms.

An unfortunate victim of brainwashed Rebel soldiers

It’s doubtful that Lucas and Co. intended the poor aim of the Stormtroopers and the high kill ratio of the Rebels to reflect these psychological facts.  In all likelihood, they just needed to inject action without disabling the main characters or slowing up the plot too much with convalescing heroes.  But this is useful information if a non-fan ever tries to diss Star Wars because of the poor aim of the Stormtroopers.  It’s not bad filmmaking – it’s Science!

It’s hard not to notice, though, that taking this scientific approach to Star Wars combat actually makes the Stormtroopers more sympathetic and the Rebels less so. It suggests Stormtroopers are empathetic and don’t really want to hurt people, while the Rebels are brainwashed murderers. From a certain point of view.

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