Let me be honest, the first time I saw the Praetorian guards on MakingStarWars.net I was concerned. I thought they might be a little too derivative. I have changed my mind, these guys might be everything we hoped the Knights of Ren would be. Lets talk about them, their inspiration, and what it might mean for their future.
Yesterday Anthony Breznican dropped several Star Wars exclusives including one on Snoke and his elite Praetorian guards. One of the things we learned was they had been designed with the ability to move to look like they were going to be able to attack at any time. This lines up with a report from Jason over at MakingStarWars that the guards will have an action scene. According to that report there are 6-8 of them and if I’m doing my head count correct we have seen 4 different designs all of them with different melee weapons.
One thing that stands out to me is the weapon choice–not only for the Praetorian guards, but across the board in The Last Jedi. With each of them having a melee weapon it would seem that their main concern for attack is a Jedi or other force user with a melee weapon. And they aren’t the only ones, Phasma has been given a staff to fight with and the new Judicial Trooper has an Energy melee weapon.
There is obviously a concern and has been a concern of the First Order. Even though it’s not in the article, I think we can be certain that the Praetorians will be using their weapons. Perhaps more than once.
I think its likely that the shot of Rey fighting three people from the BTS video will be the Praetorians though it could be the Knights of Ren–IF they are still around. My personal thought is the Knights of Ren are the next level down from the Praetorians, assuming they are around, and can be elevated to the Praetorian Guard. The next shot of Kylo fighting two people could be two possibilities: He could be fighting the Praetorian(s) and Phasma with her staff, to prove himself or part of his training OR it’s him versus Rey and Luke. Could the guy with the staff be representing Rey fighting with her staff after being disarmed of her lightsaber? One way or another I suspect that at least one of the two images is showing us the Praetorians fighting.
So what can we expect from the Praetorians in The Last Jedi? They will spend most of their time with Snoke as his personal guards and we will see them fight at some point. But what about after The Last Jedi? Well we know that Rian listened to a history of Rome when writing the Last Jedi so lets look into their namesake’s history to figure it out.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) August 10, 2017
Here are the basics. It much more complex than this but this gives you some detail. The Praetorian Guard started off as the best Roman soldiers and their captains acting as the personal guards of Generals in the field. This extended to those leading the Republic and accompanied them into battle. Once it became the Roman Empire, they got the official title “Praetorian Guards” and they were the Emperor’s personal guards and a group of elite soldiers. The very best were the guards but there were divisions of them that were soldiers. There was one thing that the Praetorian guards did once Rome became an Empire that could shed light on their future: They were makers of Emperors. No one became Emperor without their approval and they often were the ones that decided who would be the Emperor. They also eliminated Emperors, such as with the assassination of Emperor Caligula and others.
They started out as a loyal force of elite soldiers but once they realized their political power they used it. This means that IF they are based on more than just the name, then they could be the ones that selected Snoke as the Supreme Leader. Furthermore, they could be the ones that remove him. Based on bits a pieces we have gleaned from the new canon, Snoke and the First Order have existed for some time though not in the form we know now. That happened when the remnants of the Empire joined forces with Snoke and whatever forces he had under his control. It may be that the Praetorian Guards, like its namesake, has been around for sometime as well.
If the Praetorian guards are more than just the use of a cool name from Rian and meant to tell us something then I think they will have a roll to play that may shape the fate of the galaxy. Now that would be unexpected and unprecedented in Star Wars. I hope I’m right.