Part of the fun of being a Star Wars fan, especially in this new era of sequel and anthology films, is trying to predict the plot twists that will inevitably plague our heroes later down the road. Even before Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released, fans flooded the internet with theories, claiming to be sure that, among other plot points, Luke Skywalker was Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke was Jar Jar Binks.
The run up to Star Wars Episode VIII is no different, as multiple leaks and rumors stir up fan anticipation. And if there's one theory that has persisted throughout, even as others fell by the wayside, it's that Snoke is secretly Darth Plagueis a.k.a. Emperor Palpatine's mentor and all-around bad guy.
Despite officially being dead, and not actually appearing in the movies — aside from Palpatine using the tale of Plagueis to tempt Anakin in Revenge of the Sith — Plagueis has a firm fan base. The chances of him secretly being Snoke are about as good as any other random character secretly being the sequel trilogy's Big Bad — except, of course, when you remember that JJ Abrams, Andy Serkis, and Star Wars Story Group chief Pablo Hidalgo have all debunked the theory.
The Great Debunking
Abrams got the jump on everyone else, debunking the theory even before it became a theory. This was back in 2015, at SDCC's The Force Awakens panel discussion. One fan asked if Darth Plagueis would be mentioned in Episode VII, and Abrams shot down that theory as fast as Han shot Greedo.
"We don't want to be talking about story too much too soon, but I will say... no."
Not much was made of this revelation at the time, as Plagueis was still a shadow in the back most fans' minds. But when the theory reared its head after The Force Awakens was released, Andy Serkis — who plays Snoke — was quick to distance his character from any that had come before. When interviewing the actor, Entertainment Weekly stated unequivocally that Snoke is "just Snoke" — not Plagueis but "a new addition to the storyline", who is nonetheless aware of what has come before.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily count out Snoke being introduced in canon material in the run up to The Force Awakens' release — if he's going to be anyone we've already met, the smart money's on this character from the canon novel series Aftermath — but at this point it seems increasingly unlikely that Plagueis was Snoke all along.
Poor Hidalgo is bombarded with questions like these on his Twitter, and he has gone out of his way to distance Snoke from Plagueis. So is all of this a double bluff? Probably not, and here's why that's a good thing.
It's Just More Interesting If Snoke Is Someone New
One of the best things about Star Wars is that it is an expanded narrative, with the story spilling over into TV shows, books, and comics.
Even with the older stories banished from canon, Lucasfilm are hard at work creating new supplementary works that feed into the main Saga movies, and they're connecting the tales together in a really neat way. It's been fascinating to follow these developments, from Forrest Whittaker's character first appearing in the TV show The Clone Wars, to Grand Admiral Thrawn's reintroduction to the canon — a popular character from the EU, the blue-skinned villain will appear in Rebels Season 3.
However, some parts of the new movies must stand apart as their own, self-contained narratives. Lucasfilm can't expect every viewer to be following the TV shows and canon novels carefully, much less be aware of every tidbit of Star Wars lore and history. So while dedicated fans may be delighted to learn that Snoke was actually Plagueis all along, for the vast majority of the audience the reveal would have less of an impact than Luke's plea to pick up new power converters.
Supreme Leader Snoke is fascinating because he is enigmatic. We have no idea who he is, what he wants, and why he is taking over the galaxy via the First Order. Serkis has hinted at a traumatic past that left Snoke "vulnerable", and that he has some vendetta to be filled. It's certain that Snoke's backstory will drive the plot of the sequel films in a big way, so whatever revelations lurk in future films must be unpredictable — otherwise this new trilogy just becomes a rehash of a story we've seen before.
Basically, Snoke is just far more interesting if he's a totally new character, introduced in order to bring something new to the story (and the same goes for Rey, but that's a whole other article). So fans can keep spinning their theories about Plagueis' dramatic return from the dead as Snoke, but it seems more and more likely that fanfic is as close to canon as this idea is going to get.
Before Episode VIII is released, there's still a lot of theorizing to do about Rogue One. Check out our latest trailer breakdown in the video below...
...and tell us in the comments: Do you think Snoke should be a new character?