If you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this is your official SPOILER WARNING—turn back now!
There was little attempt to hide the fact that master motion-capture performer Andy Serkis would be playing a character named Supreme Leader Snoke in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but beyond that simple fact, the character was shrouded in mystery. Now that audiences around the world have had a chance to view the movie – and this newly introduced character – for themselves, many are left with more questions than answers. Spoilers abound in the discussion below, so if you haven’t been able to catch a screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, turn back now before the Dark Side claims you.
We have to wait until May 26, 2017 for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII for any further confirmation on just who and what Supreme Leader Snoke is, and why his machinations in this universe are so important. Despite the long wait, fans have already come out in droves to offer up theories on Snoke’s origins and intentions. Some are more far-fetched than others. Below, we’ll flesh out what we know about Snoke so far from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and then cover some of the more popular fan theories that have been making the rounds.
Andy Serkis’ Motion-Capture Performance
First of all, you don’t hire Serkis – aka Gollum, Caesar, King Kong, Captain Haddock, etc – to bring his particular blend of acting and technology to just any old character. Just like you don’t bring Lupita Nyong’o and her Oscar-winning talent to a character that’s going to be seen on screen once and then swept aside. Both Serkis’ Snoke and Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata clearly have more of a role to play in future films, even if their involvement hasn’t officially been announced. In other words, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just the beginning.
Perhaps the most curious thing about Snoke is how inactive he was in the movie. Yes, his size is impressive, at least if his holographic projection is to be believed. He looms over both Kylo Ren and General Hux from his seated perch upon a giant stone throne. As leader of the First Order, his size is likely more symbolic in nature than an actual representation of his true form. I’m speculating here, but it reminds me of Big Brother’s enormously imposing visage on the telescreen in 1984, or John Hurt’s similar appearance as High Chancellor Adam Sutler in V for Vendetta or even Emperor Palpatine himself. But just because Snoke may not be 50 feet tall doesn’t mean his physical appearance won’t be impressive once he’s finally face to face with other characters.
Supreme Leader Snoke’s Appearance
While his real height will be called into question for a while yet, his scarred, haunting visage has already been revealed. Relatively recently, Neal Scanlan, chief of creature and droid effects, told People:
“This character is much better executed as a CGI character. That’s just a practical reality when he’s 7-foot-something tall; he’s very, very thin.”
That’s led some folks to presume that Snoke is of the Munn race, aliens who are tall, thin, sentient humanoids. While that hasn’t been confirmed, what is apparent is that Snoke is very old, possibly ancient, which means he may have some sort of tie to the thousand-year-old Maz Kanata. Evidence for Snoke’s advanced age comes courtesy of the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster, an excerpt of which was provided (but not confirmed as accurate) by a reddit user:
“Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did.”
Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.”
“Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.”
His physical presence aside, we know that the Supreme Leader of the First Order is directly in charge of Kylo Ren’s training in the arts of the Dark Side. We also know that General Hux is at his beck and call, as witnessed toward the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens when he orders Hux to bring Ren to him so that he may complete his training. While we don’t see Hux and Ren escape the destruction of the Starkiller base, one can assume that they’ll be visiting Snoke in Star Wars: Episode VIII when we’ll likely find out more about the lot of them.
Now’s as good a time as any to get into some fan theories.
Supreme Leader Snoke Is Darth Plagueis
Easily the most developed theory surrounding Snoke is the idea that he’s actually Darth Plagueis. Before we delve into what that would mean for future movies and the fates of Kylo Ren, Rey, and Finn, let’s take a look at just who Darth Plagueis is supposed to be.
Plagueis was introduced to viewing audiences in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, in which Sheev Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, says the following:
“Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew. Then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.“
The master/apprentice relationship between Palpatine and Plagueis wasn’t confirmed on screen, but an official encyclopedia link on StarWars.com said that Darth Sidious was indeed trained by Plagueis. One theory posits that Plagueis was wise enough to either avoid being killed by his apprentice or to bring himself back to life altogether.
What does this mean for the newly introduced heroes and villains of the latest Star Wars trilogy? Well, Ren and Hux are headed to pay Snoke a visit, so if he’s actually Darth Plagueis, the earliest we’ll find out is Episode VIII. Snoke has already lured Kylo Ren over to the Dark Side and was responsible, albeit in a second-hand bit of manipulation, for Han Solo’s death. An extended theory that Snoke = Plagueis presumes that the ancient master of the Dark Side is actually intent on achieving immortality, perhaps through transferring his consciousness into his well-trained and youthful apprentices. This theory comes from another character in a series of novels that are not official canon, but could have provided the kernel of an idea to use for Snoke’s motivations.
What this could mean is that, given Plageuis’ powers, this ancient evil would have trained Palpatine and even created Anakin Skywalker (remember that bit about midi-chlorians and the fact that Anakin was a virgin birth…) with the intent of achieving total control of the Dark Side and the Force itself, and nurturing a vessel that he might one day inhabit to continue his dark reign. In a bit of Star Wars coverage reaching back to 1983, Metro dug up an interview in Prevue magazine with Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand, who mentions having discussed the entire nine episode saga with George Lucas:
‘If you follow the direction, and project into the final trilogy, you realise that you’re going to meet the supreme intellect, and you think how is it possible to create a man who has such profound cunning that he can not only control Darth Vader, but the fate of Luke Skywalker? Control the destiny of the whole galaxy? You’ll be amazed!’
So what we’re seeing here is layer upon layer of villains throughout the film series: Darth Vader, Darth Tyranus, and even Darth Maul, each guided by Emperor Palpatine, who’s ultimately under the tutelage of Darth Plagueis; if this theory is correct, the final trilogy in the saga will reveal the ultimate evil at last. That means that Kylo Ren could either become the next vessel for that evil, or redeem himself to fight alongside unexpected allies, like Rey (and maybe Finn) to defeat Plagueis and his plans once and for all. Why else would Snoke be as concerned with the awakening of the Light Side of the Force in Rey as he is with locating Luke Skywalker, the last remaining Jedi who could resist him?
In an additional bit of evidence for this theory, the James Luceno book, “Star Wars: Darth Plagueis”, is considered part of the Legends content and not canon, but you can’t deny the similarity between the book’s cover and the scenes with Snoke from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Supreme Leader Snoke Is Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Snoke does bear some resemblances to Ralph McQuarrie’s early concept art for Emperor Palpatine, leading fans to suspect that the antagonist behind the scenes of the other six films might have found a way to cheat death. This is certainly plausible, especially considering that Sidious could have learned the secret to eternal life from his master. Add to this the fact that there are some musical similarities in the scores for Episode III’s scene “Palpatine’s Teachings” and The Force Awakens’ theme for Snoke. Fans are using the musical evidence to support the claim that Snoke = Plagueis and that Snoke = Palpatine, so make of that what you will.
Snoke’s appearance, if he is actually Palpatine, would certainly be in keeping with the transformation of Palpatine into Sidious over the course of the previous six films, right up until the Emperor’s death scene. Snoke’s deformation could be due to that very traumatic near-death experience, with the exaggerated holographic image seen in The Force Awakens being used to distort his actual appearance. I’d say this one’s a stretch, but not as much of a stretch as the next theory.
Supreme Leader Snoke Is Boba Fett
Internet, you crazy. This theory comes via Moviepilot, which goes something like this: Supreme Leader Snoke is the alias of Boba Fett, infamous bounty hunter who’s known for his iconic armor and occasionally malfunctioning jetpack. Why is Snoke scarred? Because Boba Fett fell into a sarlacc pit and his face was disfigured by the sand creature’s stomach acid. The crash of the stolen TIE Fighter into the desert of Jakku and the ship’s ultimate sinking into quicksand was a nod to Boba Fett’s ill fate in the Tatooine sands. Since Poe survived his ordeal, this is seen as a clue that Boba Fett survived his as well … and then went on to assume the role of a powerful master of the Dark Side who leads the very well-funded First Order and who’s grooming Han Solo’s son to be a powerful Mandalorian force-wielding assassin…
For lots of reasons, this starts to unravel. And while I feel bad that fans out there have gone on the attack against this particular theorist in not the kindest of ways, the idea that Snoke = Boba Fett makes the other theories above look positively scientific.
But I’m sure you have an idea as to Snoke’s true identity, so feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below!
For more on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, be sure to check out some of our recent coverage provided at the links below:
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ – J.J. Abrams Explains the Thinking Behind THAT Kylo Ren Scene
- Which ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Character Was Originally Supposed to Die?
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Global Box Office Beats ‘Jurassic World’ After All
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: What’s the Deal with R2-D2?
- Weekend Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Blasts Off with $238 Million Opening
- Bad Intel: Here’s a Bunch of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Rumors That Were Wrong