The Force Awakens reintroduced us to a galaxy at war, one where a neo-Imperial group were led by the mysterious figure of Supreme Leader Snoke. Fans have been fascinated by the character, desperately trying to piece together his backstory. The main problem though is that Lucasfilm didn't have it worked out back when they first launched the Sequel Trilogy.
The Original Trilogy never gave us a real sense of who the Emperor was, or how he'd risen to power. In the same way, Snoke was introduced as a story beat in J. J. Abrams's script, and Lucasfilm wasn't quite sure where this dangerous Force-sensitive being had come from. Excitingly though, Andy Serkis — who voices the part — has revealed that Snoke's backstory has finally been decided.
In an interview with IGN, Serkis was asked whether or not he knows the character's history. His response was thrilling:
"Oh yeah, absolutely I know it."
He wouldn't give any further details, but this comment is enough to excite Star Wars fans!
What We Know So Far
Creating Supreme Leader Snoke was a challenging experience, even for an accomplished voice actor like Andy Serkis. The basic design kept changing, not only through principal photography, but after too. Serkis recently revealed that he focused in on the character's pain, on that sinister cleft in his forehead.
"He's got this cleft in his head and I think it's very painful for him to speak and yet there's an imperiousness about him. He's severely damaged but there's a vulnerability that's he's trying to cover so that was sort of what I was trying to do."
Although The Force Awakens offered few clues, the (canon) tie-in novels have given us some tantalizing hints as regards Snoke's origin. Chuck Wendig's Aftermath: Empire's End suggested that Snoke was a mysterious dark side presence, one that had been contained in the galaxy's Unknown Regions for untold millennia. Palpatine had sensed Snoke's power, and described him as "some origin of the Force, some dark presence formed of malevolent substance." Watching from the Unknown Regions, Snoke had seen the rise and fall of the Empire, and there's a disturbing hint that his attention had been drawn to Ben Solo even when the child was in his mother's womb. Empire's End closed with the last remnant of the Empire fleeing to the Unknown Regions, and we can presume that's where they met this powerful being.
Where Should We Expect Answers?
Back in May, Star Wars fans were surprised to learn that The Last Jedi won't flesh out Snoke's backstory. Vanity Fair’s David Kamp revealed that he had a chance to talk to director Rian Johnson, and he was told Snoke wouldn't be the focus.
“I asked Rian Johnson about Snoke — Who/what is he? — and Rian was fairly up front in saying that Snoke is not a character he particularly gets into in TLJ. Hmmm.”
With that in mind, the recent trailer for The Last Jedi revealed that Snoke will play a major role. We saw the Supreme Leader torturing Rey with the Force, and IGN questioned Serkis about Snoke's plans for Rey. Clearly amused, Serkis insisted he couldn't talk about it, but confirmed: "All I can [say] is you’re onto something."
Curiously enough, more clues were offered through the official Star Wars action figures released on Force Friday this year. They confirmed rumors that Snoke won't wield a lightsaber. Instead, he focuses the power of the Force through a mysterious black Kyber crystal that he wears as a signet ring. Recent movies and novels have focused in on the concept of Kyber, revealing this living crystal can amplify a person's connection with the Force. Some rumors have suggested that, using this Kyber ring, Snoke will actually have the power to destroy entire worlds with the Force.
Lucasfilm has been quite insistent that the purpose of a good story isn't to answer all your questions. As Pablo Hidalgo, a creative executive and member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, noted:
"A good story doesn't have to answer all your questions. You're thinking of a wiki article. Which often aren't good stories."
So don't expect either The Last Jedi or even Episode IX to give us the complete history of Supreme Leader Snoke. It's more likely that, inbetween The Last Jedi and December 2019, we'll see more intriguing hints in the wider Star Wars universe — particularly in the canon novels, which have already fleshed out the time-period between the Original and Sequel Trilogies. We'd still expect major revelations in Episode IX, and again it would then fall to the novels to tie most of the loose threads of Snoke's history together. That approach would fit with Lucasfilm's current pattern.
The exciting news here is that Snoke's backstory is no longer a mystery to Lucasfilm. The character played a minor role in The Force Awakens, but promises to be a terrifying threat in #TheLastJedi. We're about to get a sense of just how powerful Snoke truly is. From there, we'd expect Lucasfilm to gradually begin to reveal this ancient being's history...
What's your favorite fan-theory for who Supreme Leader Snoke is? Let me know in the comments!