Who Actually Was Supreme Leader Snoke in ‘The Force Awakens’?

There are a lot of familiar faces in Star Wars: Episode VII, from Han Solo and Chewie right down to series stalwarts R2-D2 and C3PO. There were callbacks and references, X-Wings and even something that looked an awful lot like a Death Star. There were also a few new additions – mostly in the film’s young new leads Rey and Finn, not to mention everyone’s favorite emo Sith Lord Kylo Ren. Of all the new additions though, there’s only one that’s sparked widespread online debate and intrigue: Supreme Leader Snoke, who some fans think isn’t quite as new to the series as he first appears.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Walt Disney Studios

We don’t see too much of Snoke in The Force Awakens, and when we do its as a mammoth hologram lecturing and instructing Ren in the ways of the Sith. From what we do see of him, he looks pretty alien, pretty scarred, and pretty sinister. That’s about all we’ve got to go on.  The fact that he plays basically the same role as the Emperor in the original trilogy – and has similar taste in sinister black robes – has led some to think that he might be the franchise big bad, back again, somehow alive despite falling into an exploding Death Star reactor the last time we saw him. This is Star Wars, so stanger things have probably happened before, but it hardly seems like the strongest theory. Instead, more fans have latched onto a much more niche reference point: Darth Plagueis

Who?

You’d be forgiven for not remembering Darth Plagueis if you don’t have encyclopaedic Star Wars knowledge. He only got mentioned on-screen once, and never seen directly, and it was in one of George Lucas’s unpopular prequels, so it’s easy to forget. Then-Senator Palpatine (soon to be Emperor) tells Anakin of the powerful Sith Lord, someone with such vast knowledge of the Force that he was able to conquer death itself, to keep his loved ones alive – just the sort of nudge Anakin needed to be pushed over to the Dark Side.

Plagueis was eventually overthrown and killed by his apprentice – almost certainly none other than Palpatine himself. But when just about the only thing we know about the character is that he can conquer death, it’s pretty easy to see why fans suspect there might be more at play. Oh, and some people claim that Snoke’s music is the same as that played during Palpatine’s Plagueis speech, but that seems like a preeetty big stretch to me:

So, sure, that’s two reasons Snoke might be Plagueis. And it could be a pretty cool nod for the hardcore fans. But it’s just vanishingly unlikely. Here’s why:

1. No One’s Heard of Him

Did you notice that I needed to devote two whole paragraphs to explaining who this guy is? Even most Star Wars fans don’t remember him, so what are the odds much of the moviegoing public will? And if they’ve never heard of him, they’re sure as hell not gonna care about his reveal.

2. Everyone Hates the Prequels

The Force Awakens drew liberally from the original trilogy. It pretty much ignored the prequels entirely. Fans hated them, critics hated them, most people have basically forgotten them. It seems pretty unlikely that Disney would want one of their biggest reveals to hinge on a single forgotten monologue from the derided trilogy.

3. Snoke Was Almost a Woman

JJ Abrams has already revealed that Snoke was one of the last character designs to be finished – and even though Andy Serkis was cast for the part, the villain was still so much in flux that they almost made him female. Darth Plagueis was confirmed to be a dude, so it seems pretty clear that Abrams can’t have had him in mind if he was toying with making Snoke a lady.

Slashfilm

4. Serkis Says He’s New

In an interview about the part, Andy Serkis has already said that Snoke is someone “entirely new.” And sure, he didn’t write the movie or anything, but as the guy playing the character, you’d think it’d be the sort of thing he’d know.

5. Abrams Already Denied It

This really should have settled it, except Abrams has been known to lie about his twists before (see: Star Trek Into Darkness). At Comic-Con he outright told fans that Snoke wasn’t Plagueis – and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan didn’t seem to have even heard of the minor character.

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