Originally Posted by Bucho
I far prefered thinking of stormtroopers as real dudes too. I like the idea that the Empire isn't the simple evil of the forces of Mordor, it's the complicated evil of the Nazis, or maybe the Roman and British Empires. At the top there's some pure evil going on but the further you get down the chain of command many of them are just blokes following orders and making a living by serving in the armed forces. Obviously they're not a battalion of angels, but they're not mindless automatons or robots.
People may prefer this angle, but it's not what was intended. Interviews with Lucas, and with Joseph Campbell talking about Lucas, state that the Empire is not a political ideology, but a force of evil. It's high fantasy, not political allegory.
The problem with viewing the Empire in shades of gray is that it makes the idea of The Force problematic. The Force clearly has good and evil permutations, and nothing in between. This is meant to be emblematic of the way the world of Star Wars works. No apologies are ever made about the Empire in terms like "Well, the trains run on time". Their goals are to dominate, enslave and generally serve The Cause of Evil
Yes, it's more interesting over the long haul to think of the Star Wars universe in shades of gray. But it has more in common with Lord of the Rings
than World War II. And nobody's interested in thinking of Sauron's army in shaded political terms. The Emperor is just another Sauron, and his minions are the minions of evil.
This is one more reason I think this would have been better off as one standalone movie.