We’ve had a rush of new info on some new guards in The Last Jedi. Let’s take a look at everything we know. Spoilers and speculation ahead!
The first clue we got about this goes back to May of this year. There was a leak from Gamestop black series action figures revealing some interesting items:
There are two relevant items here. First is the “Imperial Royal Guard” listing, and the other is the “Guards of Evil” listing. It would seem that the second one ended up being these new Praetorian guards. As for the Imperial Royal Guard, given the E6 (Episode VI) designation and other characters near by it on the list, it doesn’t suggest it isn’t a TLJ item. Given that it’s probable that the “Guards of Evil” are the Praetorian Guards.
A lot of what we know about the Praetorian Guards comes from Making Star Wars, and from Star Wars News Net. As Jason from MSW pointed out, the name “Praetorian Guards” may just be a placeholder name. This seems very plausible because it is exactly the same name as the Roman guards. Nevertheless, this name could shed some light on what these guys are like, or perhaps to their designs. According to MSW, the Praetorian Guards are Snoke’s personal security force, and they reside in Snoke’s palace.
As pointed out by MSW, the name comes from the Praetorian Guards that were a part of the Imperial Roman Army, going back to 275 B.C. at least. These Roman guards had decorated helmets, sheilds and swords. Here is what they looked like:
The “Imperial” part of the “Imperial Roman Army” is perhaps intriguing. Star Wars has always borrowed from various world cultures from the past, from the Samurai influencing the Jedi, to the “Stormtroopers” from Nazi Germany. It would appear, given the name of these new guards, that they are also looking to Roman armies from thousands of years ago for concepts for the First Order.
These guys may in fact be important characters in TLJ. A leaked image from MSW shows not one, but two cans (far left and far right) with these guards:
So the question is, how important will they be? There is some speculation by MSW suggesting that these guard are in some sense replacing the Knights of Ren, at least in the sense that we won’t see the KoR in The Last Jedi, but we’ll see these guys. There are other leaks stating that these guys will be in an action sequence, which we can assume is a fight scene. They all have different weapons, includeing blades, nunchucks, staffs and swords; they all have different armor, much like the Knights of Ren. It would be a waste if we didn’t see these guys fight. However, with the new word from Jason Ward is that the Knights of Ren aren’t in the movie, we have to reconcile some old photos that came out a while back. According to the discussion on the forum, there were some fight scenes with flashes filmed at Malin Head.
A lot of the speculation around this alleged “fight” was around Adam Driver and the Knights of Ren. Is it possible that this attack was in fact these “Guards of Evil”? If that is the case, then that would mean there is a good chance that they end up seeking out and fighting with Luke and Rey, because these shooting locations are a stand-in for Skellig-Michael and thus the planet Ahch-To. The “flashes” mentioned could be related to electrostaff-type weapons fighting with Rey’s lightsaber.
Another possibility is that the Knights of Ren are a subgroup within these Praetorian guards (or vice versa). The reason Jason and others haven’t heard the name Knights of Ren is they are being lumped in to the same group. The name “Elite Praetorian guards” has been used multiple times meaning that perhaps there are regular Praetorian guards. The Knights of Ren could be a step below Snoke’s Elite guards or they could be Kylo’s Elite squad with him being the heir apparent to Snoke. There is no strong indication that these guards are Force-sensitive, but it’s possible. It would be really cool if their are legions of these guards and Knights and a complex hierarchy of these guys working under Snoke.
Either way we are looking forward to seeing more of who these Praetorian guards are and what if anything we will learn about the Knights of Ren.