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. Of these theories, a sizeable chunk can be attributed to the Star Wars franchise, with these hypotheses 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?).
Lately, I’ve been mulling over one batch of Star Wars theories in particular: theories about the true identity of shadowy villain Supreme Leader Snoke. It’s reached the point where I’ve now reviewed the most popular fan conjecture regarding Snoke, and after all that, I’ve 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! So, let’s take a quick look at a few of the more high profile theories currently doing the rounds, and I’ll 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? For the answer to that question, think back to Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when soon-to-be-Emperor Palpatine 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 someone like Plagueis really be killed? Did he use his powers to somehow survive the attempt on his life and return to plague (sorry) the galaxy once more, as Snoke?
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, born long before the events of Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens. So, rather than hailing from a long-lived species like Yoda, could his longevity be down to secret Dark Side teachings he learned while still known as Darth Plagueis?
Then there’s the similarity between Snoke and the image of Darth Plagueis featured on the cover of the Darth Plagueis novel released in 2012. Admittedly, this book is no longer part of the official Star Wars canon, however, Lucasfilm is constantly reinstating various aspects of legacy continuity – so it’s not inconceivable that the Darth Plagueis novel will be canon again soon.
So where does this theory fall down? Well, lots of places, actually.
For starters, even if that image of Plagueis is still canon (and it’s not), it doesn’t actually match up with Snoke’s appearance (Plagueis has a nose, Snoke 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.
There’s also 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’s 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.
Lastly, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has bluntly denied that Snoke is Plagueis –seemingly the final coffin nail for this theory. Sure, Abrams has told porky pies about character IDs before, however, given everything outlined above, I’m inclined to believe him this time.
If Snoke isn’t Darth Plagueis, is it possible he could be another, more well-known Sith Lord? He certainly could be, if you believe 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. The theory goes that the Sith Lord’s essence immediately took up residence in a new clone body, or some other kind of physical resurrection took place courtesy of Sith techniques Palpatine learned while he was Plagueis’ pupil.
Unfortunately, other than both men sharing the same pallid complexion, and Palpatine’s (non-canon) 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. 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 body blew up – twice. The first time was when he exploded at the bottom of the Death Star shaft, and the second was when whatever was left was blown up once more when the battle station went kablooey. 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 fans posit that in the far flung future of the Star Wars universe, the 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 returns to the present day. Once there, he adopts the role of Snoke to ensure his eventual transformation into Kylo Ren takes place, 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.
But more to the point, time travel is 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.
Boba Fett (seriously)
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 point out that a considerable segment of the fandom thinks that Boba Fett is masquerading as Snoke.
As with the “Kylo Ren is Snoke” fan theory, this conjecture takes Snoke’s disfigurement and runs with it. The argument here is 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 “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.
I get why fans want Fett to return. I was 12 once too, so I know what it’s like to think Fett is the coolest character ever and hanker to see him make a comeback. 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
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 up front, I’m convinced that Snoke 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 right now don’t really fit, the most obvious question we have to ask ourselves is: does Snoke even have to be anyone else? When I was watching The Force Awakens on opening night, I never once 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 honestly, that’s all I’m expecting – no big reveal, no “I am you father/mother/brother/neighbour” moment.
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 this would be as satisfying as him being unveiled as a returning foe from the past (or future). If anything, it would be refreshing for a series so indebted to its own past to introduce a brand new arch enemy with no ties whatsoever to any previous characters or plotlines.
After all, we’ve already explored Sith’s approach to the Dark Side – isn’t it time we saw this from a different perspective? By setting Snoke up as a whole new kind of Dark Side practitioner with a wholly original mindset, might we finally get a new insight into this shadowy aspect of the Force? Personally, I really do hope so. This would give the fans something new (especially after The Force Awakens covered so much old ground) and allow Abram’s successors something different and more interesting to sink their teeth into, which we can all agree is a Very Good Thing.
So, feel free to keep guessing Supreme Leader Snoke’s real identity – perhaps he’s Obi-Wan Kenobi’s heroic torso fused with Darth Maul’s villainous legs! – just try not be too disappointed when it turns out he’s nobody familiar.