Augustus Snoke: The Praetorian Truths

The goal of a great conqueror throughout history was to rule with a fist, and to live long enough to see his or her empire rise to the occasion. To do so, said ruler would need the best of the best to guards against all threats, whether in the forefront of war or lurking in the shadows of political mutiny.

During the period of early Roman history, specifically the era of Ambassador Legatus, the Praetorian Guards began their honorable journey towards service and power. Those who served the Roman military under the position of General or honorable reserves (veteran years in the military) were granted the position of Praetorian Guard to the Emperor himself. Their goal was to serve the Emperor, and on the battlefield, protect the emperor from death (no matter the situation). When called upon, the Praetorian Guards would be seen as the ‘elites’ and be at the forefront of conflicts both internally and externally. These guards would serve until they died, most of the time because of their age or serious injuries from conflicts. Simply, the only honor was to die in service of the Roman Emperor.


(history.com)

Alright, enough of the history lesson! Let’s get into the Star Wars.

In recent news, Star Wars fans have been introduced to the newest member of Supreme Leader Snoke’s ‘First Order’. These latest additions just so happened to be named Praetorian Guards, after their role in the First Order became the focus of toy leaks and conversations within the community. These new Praetorian Guards resemble the traditional tone of the Imperial Guards from the original trilogy, however, sport a newer look that resembles the early Japanese Samurai Warriors or Bushi 武士 of the Kamakura Period 鎌倉時代 (est. 1192).

A fresh, new and unique look for Star Wars.

(makingstarwars.net)

Yet, I feel a great disturbance in the force, as if a million voices cried out “there is more to this than the red armor”

The recent conclusion to Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy Empire’s End introduced Star Wars fans to not only the story of Jakku, but to the extensive reach of the dark side after Palpatine was killed. 

THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS AFTERMATH: EMPIRE’S END

In the novel, we are introduced to the Acolytes of the Beyond, specifically young children who are stripped of their traditional life to explore the depths of anger and the powers it entails. Simply, everything that composes the dark side of the force and makes it prosper.

The Acolytes are led by Yupe Tashu, an advisor to Emperor Palpatine and creator of Acolytes of the Beyond, who built the group to seek out the knowledge of Sith lords who had passed on. These children, as we learn in Aftermath: Empires End, are ruthless and are trained not to use the force, but brute power obtained through the use of their anger and rage.

As Kiza, a young Pantoran member of the Acolytes, said in the novel, “Vader lives. And so do you. Tell everyone the Acolytes are coming, doll.” She wore the mask of Exim Panshard, a Sith lord who had ruled during the time of the Jedi-Sith War. Through this mask, she did not obtain the force, but the darkness of its past user. They worship the leading of Darth Vader, and everything he stood for. Being non-force users, it would the presence of the dark side that they believed would lead them to victory and power. This was instilled in these children, as they became more experienced, would find themselves in a much more powerful position within this “First Order”.

(aminomailer.com)

Yes, I believe that a good majority of these Acolytes may have taken on the role of Supreme Leader Snoke’s personal guards, the Praetorian Guards to be exact.

Many have speculated that the Acolytes may have also become members of the Knights of Ren, which makes sense. If Supreme Leader Snoke was to give Kylo Ren a group of Acolytes who worshiped his own grandfather, he could easily motivate and teach them the ways of the force. Not just the power of the dark side, but the light as well.

Not every Acolyte could be in the Knights of Ren, so a select few would be chosen by Snoke, based on experience and mastery of skills, to represent his personal acolytes as Praetorian Guards. In doing so, the Acolytes would always have a higher power to answer to, and continue to grow a stronger sense of how the dark side truly works. These Praetorian Guards chosen to represent and protect the life of Supreme Leader Snoke are just as crucial to the storyline, if this proves to be the case, as the Knights of Ren. Not only would this add an extra level to the new storyline, but give fans the opportunity to explore the Acolytes of the Beyond and what they represent across the canonized universe.

The truths will rise!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15th, 2017

For more information about Aftermath: Empire’s End, listen to the Talkin’ Far Far Away’s review of the novel, and Subscribe on iTunes to the Podcast Network

Share your thoughts on Twitter! : @brickcityswpc @mrvogtweets 

Thanks for reading, and May the Force be with you

Comic Con’s and Casts : The Ghost Relationship

The pop culture community has taken the entertainment world by storm.

With the release of new comic book films and almost everything in between, the geek-culture is truly the strongest fan community. With this comes the responsibility of film properties and companies to respect fans and most importantly, those who market their product(s) outside of the big-budget teams. In reality, it is the fans that make these cinematic universes possible. It is podcast’s that make this fandom grow and keep the positive discussions moving. Podcast’s are some of the most, if not the most influential voices in the community.

There can be long lasting effects of a 20 minute podcast episode.

Involved in the pop culture fandom are the Comic Con events, which consume much of the popular media and give fans a unique experience along some of their most beloved film, television and animated celebrities. These ‘Cons’, as they are called in the public, are very important to the success of franchises and the marketing of multiple properties. Most recently, these properties include Disney, FOX and Pixar.

Now, let us step back for a second and review what has been discussed.

The mass marketing advantage, fan-friendly experiences and the availability of a once in a lifetime guest. All important to the success of not just comic book conventions, but podcast episodes as well. I’m here to tell you that both Comic Con’s and Podcasts have a lot in common, and most of the time, it goes unnoticed. The days of comic book events without the advertising advantage of podcasts and radio are coming to a conclusion, no matter what direction you look. After being on tour for nearly a full year and participating in half a dozen Comic Con’s, I’ve come to a very truthful and honest conclusion.

Podcast’s are influential marketing outlets, and can determine the success of a comic book convention or fan event.

Simply, they are not being treated the way they should be, and to spin all conventions into a negative light is not the goal. Many comic book conventions and fan events utilize their media in positive way. The goal is to bring awareness to organizers and event production groups, that this valuable and most crucial media and marketing outlet is available. With poor planning and last minute decisions on the day of the event, this relationship easily takes a dive. Unfortunately, as a podcast founder and event coordinator, this can affect all parties and their outcomes. Whether the event is three days or one hour, it is amazing what can happen when little information is brought to the attention of the podcast guests and their fans.

And please, do not let the fans down.

Hopefully, this message begins to make it’s way through the comic book convention and events community. There is an awareness that needs to be exposed and explained when it comes to this powerful relationship of ‘Con to Cast’. I look forward to the day when podcast and their members become the featured acts at conventions, and not because of their name, but their ability to entertain and include the fan community in the discussion.

That day will come when this ghost relationship come to life.

 

Make sure to Subscribe to the Brick City Blockade Podcast Network on iTunes for more fan-friendly, positive community content.

May the Force be with you!

December Sky Part 2: The Impact of Character

Star Wars is Poetry.

A broad statement, however, one that fans have uttered for quite some time. Now that the birthday celebrations have begun, reflection on just how impactful this franchise has been in our lives has never been as prevalent and tearing. Our willingness as fans to embrace change and be re-introduced to this galaxy far, far away has never been more stronger and more unified as today.

Like a poem, the emotions and and words shift and change with the forever developing universe. In my last piece December Sky: Star Wars with Laura Dern, I discussed and laid out the foundations for the inclusion of Sabine Wren into the Star Wars The Last Jedi equation. I discussed the creative mind of our favorite animated Mandalorian and how she has changed the Star Wars story line in doing so, both in television and cinematically. In many ways, the poetic nature of Sabine Wren in the Star Wars universe, and how Laura Dern could easily fill that roll this coming December. With recent news and the latest behind-the-scenes photo’s provided by Vanity Fair, my mind has dramatically shifted when it comes to the original concepts of the first article.

I forgot to mention purple hair.. Laura Dern looks great in purple hair!

As we approach the release of The Last Jedi within the next seven months, more details will begin to surface in terms of character names and what their roles in the film will be. In articles and news releases from other sources within the Star Wars media outlets, Laura Dern’s name had been mentioned as being “political” and “influential” when it comes to where the Resistance goes in The Last Jedi. Additionally, her relationship with General Leia will be personal and most definitely crucial to the direction of Rian Johnson’s film. With these more recent details and, certainly, the “first shots” from Vanity Fair, the name of Laura Dern’s character has finally surfaced. Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo will be coming to The Last Jedi, and by the release of her name, she will be playing quite an important role in the Resistance. It also confirms that she will not be playing Sabine Wren.

As with every project in the Star Wars universe, the chances of cross-over appearances and the inclusion of various characters are always a possibility. In Rogue One, the character Saw Gerrera made his first big screen appearance to fans excitement. This year on Star Wars Rebels, the character Grand Admiral Thrawn made his first canonized appearance throughout Season 3 to the ecstatic energy and praise of fans, creators and Timothy Zahn himself. It has became an expectation of Lucasfilm to make sure characters are ‘put on the shelf’, and re-introduced later on to help the story progress forward. With this in mind, the expectations for Lucasfilm to do so cannot be held to the same standard as our own individual expectations.

As we say here at the network, “In Star Wars we trust”.

We trust that they connect this universe and continue to use characters and personalities to help the story get to where it needs to be. In the case of Laura Dern playing Sabine Wren, I won’t play my chances anymore. Knowing this, I do hope for Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo to showcase similar tenacity and character qualities as Sabine Wren. As a Star Wars fan, I truly do hope for this to happen. As I had stated in my first article, Sabine Wren is such an important character to Star Wars. She appeals to the younger audience, one that is just beginning to find their passion for the franchise. Sabine is a great role model for girls, who look to take on the world with great courage and strength. Laura Dern is an actress who has not been in the bright lights of Hollywood, but has played the role of inspiration for quite some time. The paths are very similar, that I sometimes hypothesize on the question that if she is not Sabine Wren, where do I go from here? Actually, the answer is simple.

Just wait for those December skies.

 
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15th, 2017
For more official information on the upcoming film, head to http://www.starwars.com/
 

I want to thank all of those who made December Sky Part 1 one of our top articles at the beginning of this year. Over 1,500 readers and 25 email responses with your thoughts and perspectives on this theory.

It is YOU, the fans, that keep this conversation progressing forward.

 

Please make sure to Subscribe to the Brick City Blockade Podcast Network on iTunes for more positive and engaging Star Wars content.

Thanks, and May the Force be with you

Summer of Solo: Plea For a Different Approach

“It may not look like much, but this may have it where it counts”

When reflecting on the first five months of Star Wars in 2017, it is quite amazing that this property has been able to change the scope of box office success and marketing of products. Being the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, I truly believe that it is most fitting for everything to have played out the way it has.

So far that is.

With Disney’s D23 Expo right around the corner at the Anaheim Convention Center in California this Summer, Lucasfilm and Disney have taken on a unique responsibility that could either dramatically affect fan appeal for Star Wars or keep the marketing machine well-oiled and moving just fine into the future.

This responsibility is the 2018 Han Solo Anthology film.

As recently discussed in the latest episode of the Brick City Blockade Podcast, there are many directions Lucasfilm and Disney could take this film. However, the greatest concern is not necessarily when we get the information – it is how efficiently they go about giving it and how it is done. As with all of their properties, Star Wars is held to a similar standard. The information comes out just as soon as they feel it is “appropriate and relevant”. Well, Han Solo is not a character that can be held to a standard marketing approach, and the time crunch to do so has begun.

Iconic cinematic characters are a property of their own. It takes time to market them right.

With little news or mention of the upcoming Han Solo film at Star Wars Celebration 2017 in Orlando, Florida, some red flags begin to surface. It is not that I do not trust the Disney and Lucasfilm marketing team. Rogue One proved we should trust in their efficiency and effectiveness to market a film. With that in mind, the time to market and begin the product development (if any) for this film is beginning to pass, especially with The Last Jedi being their main focus at this time.

There are 12 months to produce, finalize, score and mass-market the Han Solo Anthology Film.

As we always say here on the Brick City Blockade Podcast Network, “In Star Wars We Trust”. For my individual trust in those overseeing Star Wars to continue, the move of the Han Solo film from May 2018 to December 2018 would solidify said trust going forward. It allows more time for post-production, solid musical scoring and the needed time to market this beloved Star Wars character. However, I am only one voice in this. The Star Wars fan community is at the leading edge of these concerns and opinions. It is YOUR voice and YOUR interests that drive this franchise forward.

YOU are Star Wars.

Share your opinions and thoughts in our most recent Twitter poll.

Please subscribe to the Brick City Blockade Podcast Network on iTunes for more in-depth Star Wars discussions and positive fan content.

May the Force be with you!

 

1977: The Year That Started It All

Who would had ever thought..
Here we are today.
A galaxy from a long time ago..
Not that far away.

The majesty of new worlds..
Like the chill of a calming breeze
Just enough to stir the soul..
Enough for just a tease

Remembrance..
The loved we have lost
Their souls in a higher place..
Our memories forever embossed

Who would had ever thought..
A film so very small
1977..
The year that started it all

Reflect. Explore. Share.

– Our Star Wars Universe –

Robin Vogt

 

December Sky: Star Wars with Laura Dern

Star Wars is poetry.

A broad statement, however, one that fans have made for some time. Over 40 years if you just happen to be counting. We have learned to embrace change and be re-introduced to this galaxy far, far away on multiple occasions since the late 1990’s.

Like a poem, the emotions and words shift and change with the forever developing universe. It may seem jarring at times, yet as fans, we learn to adapt and embrace change. Some of these adaptations leave us with a tear and some create the greatest expressions of joy. Recently, Star Wars fans have experienced the realities of free-flowing tears and learning to cope with a change unlike any other. By the last stanza, the community embraced the actuality that Carrie Fisher was gone. Let us remember our princess for her strength and her consistent mentor-like attitude on the set of the greatest franchise to touch cinematic history. It is her teachings and influences that will play possibly one of the largest roles in the next Star Wars film set to release later this year.

As we approach the release of Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi in December, more news begins to arrive and pre-December rumors flow throughout the community. Carrie Fisher captures many of the headlines, specifically concerning her role heading forward. Julia Cameron, wife of famous director Martin Scorsese once quoted “Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That and surprise”. The Last Jedi certainly is keeping everything a mystery, especially when it comes to its characters and the plan director Rian Johnson has laid out for our favorite big screen roles. The true beauty of this upcoming Star Wars film is not just its mystery, but the surprises that may lie ahead come December. In reality, surprises that may alter how fans see the Star Wars universe across mediums, including television and film.

After researching the possibilities of a television to film crossover and vise-versa in the Star Wars Universe, I realized that this has already been a trend for some time. Most recently, the inclusion of Saw Gerrera from Star Wars: Clone Wars Animated Series to last year’s film Rogue One. Looking ahead to the conclusion of Star Wars Rebels Season 3 on Disney XD, having Obi-Wan Kenobi appear for the reason of continuity and storytelling. Everything a Star Wars fan wants to thrive on and build a discussion upon. It is safe to say that these are not the only two characters Star Wars and the Lucasfilm story team have lined-up for a crossover.

Much like Julia Cameron’s quote, mystery is crucial to creativity. Additionally, surprise is crucial mystery. As we sit in our seats, seeing The Last Jedi to play across our eager eyes, the character of Sabine Wren will be introduced to us in a way we never sought to understand or comprehend heading into the theater. Yes, the very character we have come to embrace in Star Wars Rebels has a chance to not only surprise us, but like a well-written poem, will change how we read and conceptualize the very cinematic universe we have grown to love.

There has been great mystery behind the casting of many actors and actresses in The Last Jedi, with few details surfacing to confirm or debunk the many rumors that the community discusses. This is the beauty of Star Wars, the uncertainty, and the freedom to hypothesize to our heart’s content. Next to the casting of Benicio del Toro earlier in 2016, the announcement of Laura Dern in The Last Jedi has jump-started both fascinating and plausible theories. One specific theory has stuck to this fan for quite some time. Laura Dern taking on the role of Sabine Wren, Mandalorian warrior and member of House Vizsla, would offer not only the chance to further a character’s story that has already begun playing out in a different format, but change the course of how canon content is used in Star Wars. As we see in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, the character of Sabine Wren is being set-up to take a more prominent role other than a member of the Ghost Crew.

In the episode ‘Trials of the Darksaber’, it became a harsh reality to Sabine that wielding the Darksaber was a responsibility that went beyond just uniting her people. She was faced with the realities of family, and the heartaches of past life choices. In Star Wars lore, the individual who wields the Darksaber is that in control, the ruler of Mandalore. Tarre Vizsla, Darth Maul, Pre Vizsla and now Sabine Wren, held or are now holding the power of Mandalore in the grasp of their hands. Sabine Wren herself is very powerful, always wanting to prove that her worth stands above many others. A very Mandalorian-centric life goal that stems from thousands of years. At the same time, she is compassionate and cares for those around her, a quality leaders carry throughout their life. Similar to a princess that we have all come to love.

As we know with General Leia, she faces great trials in The Last Jedi including the return of her brother Luke Skywalker and the death of her husband Han Solo. It has surfaced on multiple sites that Laura Dern’s character will be taking on a role that may touch ‘antagonist’ at times. As reported by MoviePilot.com’s Paul Wall, Laura Dern’s role will transform to Leader of The Resistance as Leia recovers from an incident that could have been life-threatening. She battles with her role in The Resistance as there is a consistent calling to join with this “other alliance”, one that pushes her loyalties to the brink.

As we see in the Star Wars Rebels series, especially in Season 3, the focus on Mandalorian loyalty is strong and in all intensive reasons, is included with future plans in mind. If Laura Dern is to play the role of Sabine Wren, it is her loyalties to the Mandalorian people that could influence her allegiance to The Resistance. One strong enough that could convince her elsewise, or based on what we’ve seen in the past, used to unite all members of this galaxy far, far away. Her past would be of great influence to her decision, even with the First Order recovering and striking fear among all members of The Resistance. Sabine Wren’s ability to lead with the Darksaber would be a reason leaders of The Resistance would call upon her to take over General Leia’s responsibilities. Even with past conflicts between the two per speculations, and possibly seeing this feud continue through Episode VIII, the character of Sabine Wren could be challenged to choose a path yet again many years later.

The timelines must line-up to make Sabine Wren a viable character for Laura Dern to play as well. On the 10th of February, Laura Dern turned 50 years of age. Researching the Star War timeline and seeing the events of Episode VIII compared to that of Star Wars Rebels, the age difference is closer than many would expect. At the time of Season 3 of Rebels, Sabine Wren is about 18 years old, still a teenager in our modern standards. 37 years have passed between the events of A New Hope and Force Awakens. From what we understand in the Star Wars Timeline and in prediction, Laura Dern’s character was present during the events of Starkiller Base and the rise of the First Order. With The Last Jedi taking place within a year’s time of the conclusion to The Force Awakens, and Rebels moving towards the events of Rogue One, Sabine Wren would be roughly 55 years old.

Coincidence? Probably, however, the team at Lucasfilm has always liked to create a bond between their actors age and their youthfulness. Daisy Ridley playing an 18-year-old Rey, Felicity Jones playing a 19-year-old Jyn Erso in Rogue One. Carrie Fisher playing an 18-year-old Princess Leia. The track record proves this trend viable and realistic as we look at Laura Dern’s youthfulness at 50 years old. Hopefully, I earn some brownie points for that one!

As we see in Rebels, Sabine Wren never fails to show her youthful-side, poking fun at Ghost members and loving to show her awesome potential in battle, even if it puts her at risk. She is a strong female character, a focus that Star Wars has captured from film to film, project to project since 1977. To continue that legacy in The Last Jedi with Rey, Leia, and Sabine Wren would be simply awe inspiring and a great motivator for fans, specifically young girls wanting to encompass themselves in adventures within the Star Wars Universe. Through the inclusion of Laura Dern as Sabine Wren, these adventures take flight.