For as long as there has been pop culture, there have been fans. And for as long as there have been fans, there have been fan theories.
Without doubt one of the most theorised about franchises in all of pop culture is the Star Wars series, with theories ranging from the obvious (Palpatine and Darth Sidious are the same guy) to the entertaining (Jar Jar Binks is secretly a Sith Lord) and right on through to the desperate (Boba Fett actually killed Luke’s aunt and uncle because…reasons?).
With the upcoming release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I’ve had our favourite galaxy far, far away on my mind more and more, and in particular, I’ve been mulling over theories related to the identity of shadowy villain Supreme Leader Snoke.
After trawling through a sea of online hypotheses as deep as Darth Vader’s hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, I’ve reviewed the most popular fan conjecture regarding Snoke (courtesy of a one page rundown and analysis by the fine folk at Goliath), and come away with the conclusion that NONE of them are correct.
In fact, I think it’s just as likely that the secret to Snoke’s true identity is that there is no secret at all!
First, let’s take a quick look at a few of the more high profile theories currently doing the rounds, and shoot them down like womp rats in Beggar’s Canyon.
Plagued by Darth Plagueis
Casual Star Wars fans are probably scratching their heads over this one – just who the heck is Darth Plagueis?
If you cast your mind back to Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (aka “The Mostly Decent Prequel), soon-to-be-Emperor Palpatine at one point recounts the Sith legend of “Darth Plagueis the Wise”, a Sith Lord said to be so powerful, he could cheat death itself.
According to Palpatine’s tale, Plagueis was killed by his apprentice – strongly implied to be Palpatine himself in the film, and confirmed in external canon sources – while he slept. But could Plagueis be killed? Did he use his powers to somehow survive the attempt on his life and return to plague (sorry) the galaxy once more?
To be honest, there are several aspects of this fan theory that work – which is probably why it’s the most popular Star Wars hypothesis going at the moment.
For one thing, we know that Snoke is supposed to be very old, possibly having lived for millennia prior to the events of Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Rather than hailing from a long-lived species like Yoda, could his longevity be down to secret Dark Side teachings he learned in the guise of Darth Plagueis?
Then there’s the similarity between Snoke and the image of Darth Plagueis featured in the novel of the same name released in 2012 – although it’s worth pointing out that this book is no longer considered part of the official Star Wars canon.
Furthermore, a less in-universe (but equally valid) reason that Snoke might be revealed to be Plagueis is that it would nicely tie together all three Star Wars trilogies in a broader storytelling sense, providing a much needed link between the prequels and the sequels (or whatever we’re calling this latest trilogy of films).
So where does it all fall down? Well, lots of places, actually.
For starters, there’s the fact that even if that image of Plagueis was still canon (and it’s not), it doesn’t actually match up with Snoke’s appearance (one has a nose, the other doesn’t). Yes, there’s a certain resemblance between the Sith Lord and the Supreme Leader, but other than grey skin, a tall figure and a penchant for appearing in large, Wizard of Oz-like giant holograms, these guys don’t actually share that much of a likeness.
Even setting that aside, there’s the rather obvious issue that Snoke doesn’t identify – openly, at least – as a Sith Lord. Sure, his servants, the Knights of Ren, might be a smokescreen for (or a reinvention of) the Sith Order (in the same way the First Order is simply the Empire 2.0), but it seems a bit odd that Plagueis would hide under an assumed name and conceal his Sith origins when he’s essentially running the de facto Empire.
I mean, what’s stopping him from coming out openly as Darth Plagueis? What does he have to hide? Unlike Palpatine, he’s not biding his time and pretending to be a benign figure until he can usurp power; he already has an army and can and does operate somewhat openly, so it seems pointless to conceal his identity.
(Incidentally, this line of logic is why I also reject the notion that Snoke might actually be the founder of the Sith Order, Darth Bane.)
Then there’s my gut feeling that when a guy like Palpatine says he killed someone, I’m kinda convinced he’s made pretty certain that person is well and truly dead and not coming back. I know it’s far from an evidence-based point of view, but I still think it bears mentioning.
Lastly and most prosaically of all, the blunt denials by The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams (along with actor Andy Serkis) that Snoke isn’t Plagueis would seem to be a final coffin nail for this theory. Even though Abrams has told porky pies about character IDs before, given everything outlined above, on this occasion, I’m inclined to believe him.
If Snoke isn’t Darth Plagueis (or Darth Bane, for that matter), is it possible he could be another, more well-known Sith Lord? Apparently, according to another widespread fan theory, which proposes that the Supreme Leader is actually Plagueis’ apprentice, Darth Sidious – aka Emperor Palpatine!
The argument goes that Palpatine’s consciousness survived the destruction of his body when Vader flung him down the Death Star shaft, taking up residence in a new clone body, or that he somehow made use of techniques learned from Plagueis to otherwise restore himself to life.
Other than both men’s shared pallid complexion and Palpatine’s (no longer canon) documented use of clone bodies to prolong his life after death, not much bears this theory out.
Everything we know about Palpatine suggests he’s an ordinary – if not insanely powerful – human being with a normal life span (it’s kinda hard for elected officials to live for centuries unnoticed).
Also, his physiology in no way matches Snoke’s (unless his new host body was some how altered) and there’s currently no explanation why Palpatine’s new or cloned body is injured the way Snoke clearly is.
And speaking of bodies, easily the most damning evidence against this theory is that Palpatine’s blew up – TWICE. The first time when he exploded at the bottom of the Death Star shaft, and the second when whatever was left was blown up once more when the battle station went ka-blooey.
Persistent consciousness or not, I can’t see anyone walking away from that, no matter how many new bodies they have stashed away.
Kylo Ren’s other starship is a DeLorean?
Ok, so Snoke probably isn’t Darth Plagueis or Emperor Palpatine – who else from the past could fit the bill? Well, according to some fans, we’re all looking along the timeline in the wrong direction: the Supreme Leader is actually Kylo Ren, returned from the future!
These fan theorists posit that in the far flung future of the Star Wars universe, this black sheep of the Skywalker-Solo family – presumably kept alive via the same methods Plagueis was said to possess – gets his hands on time travel technology and uses it to return to the present day, adopting the role of Snoke in order to ensure his rebirth as Kylo Ren via a paradox loop.
The major evidence here seems to be the vaguely similar facial scarring that Ren and Snoke share, which I think we can all agree is flimsy reasoning, at best. This also totally overlooks the many physical discrepancies between the pair, including their heights and likenesses (which again, I suppose you could explain away via “The Dark Side: It’ll mess you up” logic).
But more to the point, time travel has to date been a plot device largely ignored by the Star Wars franchise, and would almost certainly feel out of place if it were introduced. So I’m sorry to say that those fans praying for a Back to the Future inspired plotline in Episode VIII and Episode IX are almost certainly destined to be disappointed.
So far, we’ve covered off on some of the major Snoke fan theories – all of which seem at least half-way reasonable, if not fully plausible.
But just to show you how wide fans have been casting their net to find the Supreme Leader’s true identity, I thought I’d take the time to point out that a decent-sized chunk of fandom thinks that Boba Fett (yep, him again) is masquerading as Snoke.
As with the “Kylo Ren is Snoke” fan theory, this supposition takes Snoke’s disfigurement and runs with it, arguing that it’s the result of Fett’s time spent in the belly of the Sarlacc monster, where the bounty hunter was unceremoniously dumped in Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Of course, this theory has more holes in it than a centipede’s trousers, the most prominent being that Fett doesn’t even have any Force powers. Let’s remember that – fast on the draw or not – this is still the same guy who couldn’t sense a temporarily blind smuggler swinging a pike wildly behind him, which proved very costly indeed.
It also overlooks Fett’s average height and completely different likeness and build (although I’m sure “space science” could explain these away), and disregards his status as a human clone who would at most be in his late 60s by the time of The Force Awakens, which hardly makes him ancient.
Look, I get why fans want Fett to come back – I was 12 once too, so I know what it’s like to think Fett is the coolest character ever and be desperate to see him make a come back. And even though my affection for him has mellowed somewhat with age, I still think he would make a valuable addition to the expanding Star Wars franchise, but as the lead in a spin-off film, not crudely shoehorned into the role of the series’ new big bad.
Sometimes a Snoke is just a Snoke
Alright then, if I don’t agree with the fan theories that Snoke is Darth Plagueis, Emperor Palpatine, Kylo Ren or Boba Fett, then who do I think he is?
Well, like I said way back at the start of this article, I’m actually fairly convinced that he isn’t ANYONE we’ve met before (and I’m not alone on this, either).
Setting aside the fact that virtually all the theories floating around the interwebs don’t really fit, the most obvious question we have to ask ourselves is: does Snoke even HAVE to be anyone else?
I’ve gotta say, when I was watching The Force Awakens on opening night, I never once for a second found myself trying to puzzle out his true identity, for the simple reason that it never crossed my mind that he was anyone other than who he said he was.
Yes, I think there’s a lot more to the character, and I’m positive we’ll find out plenty more about who is and what he wants in the next two films, but that’s all I’m expecting – no big reveal, no “I am you father/mother/brother/neighbour” moment.
Maybe I’m being naive, and maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but despite what some fans and commentators think, as far as I’m concerned, not only is Snoke more than likely to be a brand new character, but having this be the case is actually as satisfying – if not more so – as him being unveiled as a returning foe from the past (or future).
If anything, it would be refreshing – in a series so indebted to what has came before it – to introduce a brand new arch enemy into the fold, with no ties whatsoever to any previous characters or plotlines.
After all, we’ve already explored in depth the approach of the Sith towards the Dark Side – isn’t it time we saw things in a different light? Could it be that by setting Snoke up as a whole new kind of Dark Side practitioner, with a wholly original mindset, that we get a new insight into this shadowy aspect of the Force?
I, for one, absolutely hope so – as this would give the fans something new (especially after The Force Awakens covered so much old ground) and give the filmmakers something different and more interesting to sink their teeth into, which I think we can all agree is a Very Good Thing.
So feel free to keep guessing who Supreme Leader Snoke might actually be – perhaps he’s really Mace Windu’s heroic torso fused with Darth Maul’s villainous legs! – just try not be too disappointed if it turns out he’s nobody familiar.