Behind every Star Wars bad guy there’s an even badder guy. The original trilogy’s main villain, Darth Vader, was threatening enough, but when it was revealed in The Empire Strikes Back that he was simply the second in command to the mysterious Emperor, he lost a lot of his scariness. The prequel trilogy introduced Darth Maul, a sleeker, devilish alien whose skills with a double edged lightsaber were pretty cool, and those films also explained how a normal-seeming (though power-hungry) Senator Palpatine became the evil Emperor. Sticking to this trend, The Force Awakens has a couple of villains in Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, but the strings are apparently being pulled by a sinister figure. But just who is Supreme Leader Snoke in Force Awakens , and how does he fit into the Star Wars world? Spoilers ahead!
I hope I wasn’t the only one in the theater watching The Force Awakens this weekend who saw the huge Supreme Leader Snoke and thought, “Woah, who the heck is this guy?” Snoke appears very infrequently in the film, but it’s made clear that Kylo Ren is doing his evil bidding. Snoke is quite large, towering over his apprentice visitor in what looks like a dark throne room. But since his presence is apparently holographic and he’s not actually in the room, his large size may just be how he presents himself to imply his power and strength. It's obviously a ruse, but it's fun to theorize what size he really is. Fans may be frustrated that so little information has been revealed about Snoke, but remember how vague the Emperor was in the first trilogy? Barely anything was known about him as well, but as the films progressed, his backstory was unveiled. It’s likely that fans will get more Snoke going forward, but for now, let’s figure out what we can.
There are a few things known about Snoke so far.The first is that he’s probably a Sith Lord. As the prequel trilogy established, there’s usually one Sith master and one apprentice. Kylo Ren is obviously the apprentice in this scenario. The second thing known is that the Resistance is aware of him, as Leia and Han discuss how their son was lured to the Dark Side by Snoke. They know he exists, so his involvement is not going to be a giant reveal to our heroes later on in the series. And that, my friends, is pretty much all that's been said — not that that hasn’t stopped the Internet from forming a few theories of its own.
There are tons of fan theories floating around about Snoke, the most popular being that he may be Palpetine’s former master, Darth Plaeguis. As Palpetine says in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, “"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." If Snoke is Darth Plaeguis, that would bring up a whole new set of questions. Is Plagueis actually alive? Or is he appearing as a ghost, like so many who wield the Force can do? Does that mean there might be a second Sith Lord who is actually living?
Another theory over at HitFix describes the idea that perhaps Snoke is not a physical being at all, but a manifestation of the Dark Side within all Jedi, particularly the Skywalkers, and that the two sides must come together, like in The Dark Crystal, to achieve true balance in the Force, a concept the films have always addressed but never clarified. There’s also been a rather hilarious theory that Snoke is actually Jar Jar Binks turned bad. Honestly, fans would probably riot. No one ever wants to see that guy again.
Perhaps the only solid information about Snoke comes from the man who plays him: Andy Serkis. Like with so many of his characters before him, Serkis used motion capture to bring Snoke to life and told Entertainment Weekly that the character is “damaged” as well as “strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful.” Serkis also clarified one very important element: that Snoke is a new character; someone fans have never met before. “He’s a new character in this universe,” Serkis said. “He’s aware of what’s gone on, in the respect that he has been around and is aware of prior events. I think it’d be fair to say that he is aware of the past to a great degree.”
Though that fact doesn’t rule out the idea that Snoke is in fact Darth Plagueis, as audiences haven’t seen that character at all throughout the series, only heard of his story. But that’s only one possibility, and sadly, fans will have to wait through two more films to find out more.
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