There’s always been a kind of high-fashion pageantry associated with Star Wars’ oppressive regimes that’s simultaneously terrifying and utterly delightful to look at. When The Last Jedi hits theaters later this year, it looks as if Supreme Leader Snoke’s going to continue in that tradition with the Praetorian Guard.
Though we’ve known about Praetorian Guard for some time now, there was quite a bit of uncertainty about what exactly the elite squad might look like on the silver screen. Thanks to the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, we now know a lot more about the guards directly from writer-director Rian Johnson, even beyond how they’ll be dressed.
Unlike Palpatine’s Royal Guards from Return of the Jedi, Johnson explained, the Praetorian Guard was designed with movement and action in mind. While Palpatine’s guards sort of just stood there simply looking menacing, Snoke’s guards are meant to explicitly let everyone know that they can and will kill you without the the slightest hesitation.
“The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t. They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. The Praetorians, my brief to [costume designer] Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous.”
Also unlike Palpatine’s guards, we know that the Praetorian Guard won’t all look exactly like one another or use the same weapons. While they’re all clad in the same garish shade of Devo-ish red, their armor and weapons are all somewhat different, most likely reflecting different fighting styles and personalities. Johnson went on to say that we can expect to see more of Snoke in the (motion-captured) flesh, but that we shouldn’t expect to learn more about him that is necessary to tell the story at hand.
If you were at all a sucker for Episodes I-III’s commitment to couture costumes, the Praetorian Guard’s outfits are cause for excitement. Not only do they look cool as hell, but they’re also a simple, bold expansion to the vast visual culture that’s always been integral to the Star Wars franchise.