Andy Serkis canceled an appearance at the recently held Keystone Comic Con due to a scheduling conflict, fueling rumors Supreme Leader Snoke will appear in Star Wars: Episode IX. Introduced in The Force Awakens, many fans thought Snoke would be the big bad of the sequel trilogy, but he was nothing more than a red herring. In The Last Jedi, the character proved to be a stepping stone for Kylo Ren's arc, with the apprentice becoming the galaxy's ultimate evil. After years of developing theories about Snoke's true nature, seeing him die in the middle chapter was quite shocking.
Unsurprisingly, Serkis was absent from the official Star Wars 9 cast list that was revealed when director J.J. Abrams began production in August, but Lucasfilm has been known to have surprises up their sleeves before (see: Yoda in The Last Jedi). While it's unlikely the former Supreme Leader rejoins the living, there's now a chance Snoke could be featured in some capacity in Episode IX.
Serkis was supposed to be at Keystone Comic Con in Philadelphia this past weekend (September 14 - 16), but dropped out because of a scheduling conflict (hat tip Star Wars News Net). The timing of this is definitely curious, as Episode IX is in the midst of principal photography. It's worth mentioning Billy Dee Williams canceled his own convention appearance before officially signing on for the film.
Currently, Serkis has no projects that are shooting, and while he is attached to direct an adaptation of Animal Farm for Netflix, that is nowhere close to getting in front of the cameras. With all of the (admittedly scant) evidence available, Episode IX seems plausible, but fans should not take this as confirmation Serkis is returning to the galaxy far, far away. Another realistic possibility is Avengers 4, which just began its reshoots. Serkis played Ulysses Klaue in Age of Ultron and Black Panther, and while the character died in the latter film, many believe Avengers 4 will incorporate time travel. Perhaps Joe and Anthony Russo need Serkis on set to shoot a small cameo. Of course, this could be related to something else entirely, like one of Serkis' motion-capture consulting gigs.
It's worth keeping in mind that even if Serkis is in Episode IX, he could be playing another character altogether (such is the magic of mo-cap). But in the event he's Snoke again, it won't be for a meaningful role. The character is dead in the present day, and Abrams has already said he won't let Last Jedi backlash influence his Episode IX decisions. Lucasfilm isn't going to retcon Episode VIII, so Snoke would be likely be relegated to a possible flashback or dream sequence. As for whether or not that should happen, it all boils down to execution, but an argument can be made Kylo Ren deserves the spotlight to himself.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019