Snoke has been one of the biggest mysteries in the new Star Wars trilogy, but The Last Jedi killed him before we learned any details on his backstory. Actor Andy Serkis has promised that details may be coming eventually - but when?
The Force Awakens introduced fans to a galaxy at war once again, with the Empire resurgent as the First Order. The film revealed that the First Order was led by a mysterious being, Supreme Leader Snoke. But who was Snoke, and where had he come from? How had he gained control of the Empire's forces, and formed them into the First Order? The Force Awakens was silent on these things, possibly because Lucasfilm hadn't fixed the story down in the first place. By the time of The Last Jedi, though, Snoke's backstory had been decided. Serkis confirmed that he knew it all in October last year, but was naturally unable to give any details. Of course, Rian Johnson didn't elaborate any of this, instead killing Snoke as part of Kylo Ren's ascension.
Serkis is once again talking about Snoke's mysterious backstory, although still unable to give away any details. In an interview with EW, he stated, "I’ve been asked to not shed anything, should we want to bring him back in any way whether [in a] prequel or whatever". So, Snoke doesn't just have a backstory, Lucasfilm plans to explore it.
THIS PAGE: WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT SNOKE'S BACKSTORY?
What We Actually Know About Snoke's Backstory
Snoke seems to be one of the most powerful dark side users of all time, but he is no Sith. Rather, Snoke is something else; an ancient dark side being who watched the galaxy from deep in the Unknown Regions; according to the novelization of The Force Awakens, Snoke was old enough to watch the rise and fall of the Empire from afar. Even at that early a stage, he was fascinated by the lineage of Anakin Skywalker, perhaps sensing the Skywalker family's true power.
It seems Snoke wasn't always removed from the galaxy, though. The novelization of The Force Awakens stressed that he had trained many apprentices in his long life. Significantly, Snoke's battered and disfigured body seems to be the product of war. Lucasfilm has teased that Snoke's hatred of the Republic was driven by a desire for revenge. If that's the case, it seems likely he was injured in battle, presumably against the Old Republic although perhaps more recently linked to Luke. That distinctive facial injury may even have been courtesy of a lightsaber; a popular fan theory is that Snoke was actually the First Jedi, twisted and corrupted by the dark side of the Force.
The Star Wars novel Aftermath: Empire's End revealed that Palpatine sensed a powerful being watching from the Unknown Regions. The Emperor described this as "some origin of the Force, some dark presence formed of malevolent substance." This led Palpatine to attempt a survey of the Unknown Regions, and was also the reason he allowed the nonhuman Thrawn to serve in the Imperial Navy; Thrawn originated from the Unknown Regions, and helped with the mapping project. When the Empire finally fell, the last remnants fled to the Unknown Regions using these maps. There, they presumably met Snoke.
Why We Didn't Learn Snoke's Backstory
That all feels incredibly important, but The Last Jedi still cut Snoke in two. And that's because the Skywalker Saga isn't his story. As director Rian Johnson explained, it wasn't relevant from a storytelling viewpoint. He compared Snoke to the Emperor, who was equally mysterious in the Original Trilogy. "The first three movies you know nothing about the Emperor," Johnson explained, "because you don't have to, because that's not the story." Lucasfilm higher-ups have repeatedly argued that a good story doesn't reveal everything; that's a Wiki page, and those are rarely good stories.
Fans were generally disappointed by this decision, but Johnson has a point. When Rey confronted Snoke in The Last Jedi, she didn't care whether he was Darth Plagueis or the first (fallen) Jedi. All she needed to know was that he was a powerful dark sider who was manipulating both herself and Kylo Ren. From a storytelling viewpoint, Johnson made the right call.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019