Ever since Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters in December 2015, there have been no shortage of rumors regarding the new villain Supreme Leader Snoke, who is portrayed through motion capture by Andy Serkis. Director Rian Johnson hinted last month that Supreme Leader Snoke won't even have much screen time in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which likely means that the mystery surrounding his origins will be held until Star Wars: Episode IX. While we won't see much of Snoke, it seems, a new report has surfaced featuring artwork of the Elite Praetorian Guard that serves Snoke, along with new details about these characters.
Making Star Wars debuted the artwork earlier today, and revealed new details about these guards. Their sources first stated that these guards originally weren't supposed to have much to do, reportedly just standing next to Snoke in his palace, but now they will be involved in a Star Wars 8 action scene. Still, no details about this action scene have been confirmed quite yet. The artwork shows that their new costumes are all red, and that there is no visor, with this guard's face completely obscured. The artwork also shows the new weapons these guards will use, a Praetorian blade which has a pink electrified blowtorch underneath it. There is also a First Order Stormtrooper weapon which shows electrical bolts coming out of both sides. Here's an excerpt from the site's report about these new weapons.
"The Elite Praetorian we will show you today has a halberd-type weapon with an electric field along the blade not unlike Captain Phasma's Executioner Stormtroopers. It basically has very similar technology with the pink energy for deflection or maybe even cutting. The Executioner Stormtrooper weapons have an energy that is very spitty with sparks flying past their shoulders from what I've seen. The Elite Praetorian's energy along the blade seems more finely tuned and elegant by comparison. (Well, maybe not exactly more elegant, just more like a blowtorch, more focused.) We don't know if in the final film both weapons will have the pink electricity along the weapons or just the Pretorians.?"
The site also speculates that, based on some earlier concept art for Kylo Ren for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that these designs may have ultimately been used for these Praetorian guards. An early design for the Kylo Ren helmet looks quite similar to the helmet seen in the Praetorian Guard drawing, although the Kylo Ren artwork had a darker black color, and not the bright red seen in the illustration. It hasn't been confirmed at this time if these earlier Kylo Ren drawings served as the inspiration for the Elite Praetorian Guard or not.
Since these characters are known as the "Elite" Praetorian Guards of the First Order, there is speculation that there are "non-elite" Praetorian Guards as well. It is possible that these could be the black knights seen on Ahch-To during production, but that has yet to be confirmed. Take a look at these illustrations of the Elite Praetorian Guard and the First Order stormtroopers with their new weapons below from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.