One of the greatest mysteries posed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the history of Supreme Leader Snoke, ruler of the First Order. Recently published materials in the franchise canon might suggest the character comes from the Unknown Regions where the First Order was presumably born. Ever since Episode VII came out, fans have generated a plethora of theories about Snoke, working with what limited resources are available to them. He is someone who seems to have knowledge of what happened with the Galactic Empire during the original trilogy, and Lucasfilm has already shot down the Darth Plagueis hypothesis. Other than that, everything sounds like fair game until further notice.
Another breadcrumb was revealed by Pablo Hidalgo when he shared a passage of the Force Awakens novelization on Twitter. In the book, Snoke is described as “humanoid but not human,” meaning the story group has definitely decided to make him some kind of alien. Where they take the character in the future remains to be seen, but this is something else for viewers to keep in mind when trying to discover the truth. It makes it all the more likely Snoke is an individual moviegoers have never met before and not a John Harrison type ruse for a greater twist. Those impatient for the remainder of the sequel trilogy keep attempting to figure it out before the movies come out and now believe there’s some evidence in this year’s Star Wars novels.
The Aftermath trilogy already provided one Snoke theory that’s been shot down, but it also has a far more plausible suspicion: the Unknown Regions. Based on the events of that series’ finale, Empire’s End, remnants of the old Imperial regime set course for this largely uncharted area of the universe, planting the seeds for the First Order that serve as the primary antagonists of the latest saga episodes. Among their ranks are a young Armitage Hux (played by Domnhall Gleeson in the movies) and presumably a young Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). While this group obviously returned to the galaxy far, far away we all know and love, their time in the Unknown Regions has largely been undocumented to this point. We’ve speculated before that it’s possible during these travels, the old Empire encountered Snoke and he assumed command of the operation before heading back. It’s not outside the realm of possibility; by the time The Force Awakens starts, the First Order is already established and fully functioning. Coincidentally, their big gun of Starkiller base was a mobile planet that originated in the Unknown Regions, so the organization’s travels were fruitful in some respects at least.
Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn also features the Unknown Regions, as the titular character hails from there. Thrawn, who is seen as an Imperial Grand Admiral in Rebels, came to the familiar Star Wars galaxy to warn Emperor Palpatine of great threats in the universe that could be found in the Unknown Regions, offering his knowledge of them. Some have speculated Snoke could be one of these mysterious threats, especially since Palpatine was intrigued by the Unknown Regions due to its connections with the Dark Side of the Force. Snoke, of course, is a Dark Side master who seduced Kylo Ren. The story group’s emphasis on the Unknown Regions lately could be a sign of bigger things to come. One possible interpretation is that Lucasfilm is getting fans acquainted with this element now prior to Episode VIII, much like how Life Debt offered clues about Han Solo and Chewbacca’s backstory before the Han Solo anthology film is released. Snoke being from the Unknown Regions is one of the more sound theories about him right now, but comments made by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson could imply the studio has something else up their sleeves.