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40K Pop-Khorne: Tactical Phase Out

5 Minute Read
Jan 31 2019

Primaris. Primaris Everywhere. The writing is on the wall for Tactical Marines and we’ve got a list of movies that foreshadow what the ending could look like for the Tactical Marines of Warhammer 40,000.

It’s another intersection of Pop Culture and 40k and today we’re looking at movies that showcase the pain of fighting against the inevitable. The Replacements are here for the Tactical Marines and while they are still around, it’s only a matter of time before they go on to the shelf and slowly gather dust. You either die a hero or you live to see a very boring retirement.

Soldier (1998)

Yes, we’ve brought this one before but only because it’s SOOOO Grimdark! It’s a story about replacing an old Solider with the new, younger, tougher, genetically enhanced version. It’s exactly what’s happening in 40k right now as the Primaris Marines are rolling out. Now in the movie, the old Solider ends up winning the day and survives to stay alive. But what they don’t really talk about is the aftermath.

I mean, yes, the old Soldiers do live on and basically get to start over…but that doesn’t end the program of creating these modified warriors. If you think a government that is willing to do this at least twice is just going to shut down a highly successful program like that, guess again. You know that if this movie played out a new batch of them would be created with the “upgrades” and maybe even additional training to make sure they don’t go completely insane. Some type of Hypno-therapy maybe? And man, if they had some better armor than just BDUs…like some type of powered armored or something…Yeah, now we’re talkin! You can’t stop progress. You can either get on board or get run over.

The Last Samurai (2003)

The Last Samurai might be a little far-fetched (a random American cavalry solider comes to Japan, get taken in by a Samurai clan, learns their ways and is somehow the only survivor). But at it’s core it’s really about the ending of an era. The Samurai were very impressive and very deadly but there was no way their way of war could handle the modernization of the military. The final battle proved that much. At the same time the message to the Emperor was clear – you need to modernize but don’t forget your history or the lessons learned to do it.

Men in Black (1997)

Here’s another story about being replaced. When you think about Men in Black, sure it’s a funny action-comedy with aliens and spaceships and a bunch of gags. But when you look at the big picture the movie is really about retirement. Tommy Lee Jones’ character tells Will Smith’s character towards the end of the movie, “[I] haven’t been training a partner, I’ve been training a replacement.” Once that realization hits, it puts the entire movie in a new light. Now I know they went on to basically undo all of that in the sequels but it really was a bittersweet moment in that movie that added a lot of emotional depth to an otherwise pretty surface level action-comedy movie.

If I were a Tactical Marine this is the type of send off I would want to see. It would be cool if GW found a way to incorporate this passing of the torch into the 40k story moving forward. Or, you know, just make the process of getting Primaris’d less deadly or something.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers really nails the dread and terror of being replaced. Just the idea that out there, an alien species is ready to literally swap you out for a clone devoid of emotion (which also means they are ready to kill and replace you completely) is terrifying. But this movie also deals with the more sinister concept of being unable to stop it from happening. Even when the characters become aware of what’s going on they are basically powerless to stop the spread. Maybe if they had acted quicker…but how could they have known.

The parallels to Tactical Marines and Primaris are pretty evident. And now that Primaris are so prevalent in the lore there is no going back. The basic marines can either give into the change or they will end up getting replaced against their will eventually.

Toy Story (1995)

Yeah – we’re going there. Toy Story is all about a group of Toys that are pretty happy with their lot in life. But then a shiny new toy shows up and basically up-ends their whole world. The new toy is more advanced and has a lot of fancy bells and whistles that the old toys just can’t compete with. Eventually the child starts to favor the new toy over his old, cherished toy. It’s a sad and painful reality about children and their toys – but told from the toys point of view. And we’re not even going to get into what happens in the sequels.

Maybe in this story we (the players) are the child. Classic Marines are clearly Woody and the Primaris are Buzz. And while there will be folks out there that simply don’t bother to upgrade, there is a generation of (now) kids who are growing up with Primaris Marines as “their” marines and Classic Marines are just the old version. Just give it another 5 years as those kids grow-up and which option do you think will be more popular? Getting replaced sucks…but it’s the sad truth.

Bonus: 1/3 of Rambo First Blood (1982)


The first 1/3rd of this movie is all about a Military Veteran coming home to a country that just doesn’t care about him anymore. Honestly, it’s pretty messed-up when you watch it as this soldier was just trying to reconnect with his old unit but comes to learn that each member has died. He’s got no where else to go and no one else to turn to. You mix in a dirty small town sheriff that pushes him to a breaking point and then fire-works ensue.

It’s a good thing that Tactical Marines are just plastic dudesmen because I’d hate to see what would happen if they suddenly could all go full-on Rambo when they learn they have been replaced and forgotten about. But, then again, there is no saying that all the Space Marines are thrilled about the Primaris Protocol and some of them just might want to start a rebellion…


Get ready for the Primaris Heresy – coming soon! In the meantime, what movies do you think really strike that chord of inevitability and being replaced by the new batch? Let us know in the comments!

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