For two years, Star Wars fans have been speculating ravenously about the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke— the mysterious man behind the curtain of the First Order. Now, The Last Jedi is finally out, and fanboys all over the world are raging at the lack of Snoke-dirt that the film dished out.
The Last Jedi wasn’t absent of reveals, but many fans are coming out of it unsatisfied. The film has broken a whole lot of new ground for the series going forward, and in the process, has alienated camps of fans who find director Rian Johnson’s approach to the Star Wars mythology a bit too radical.
Despite the fevered backlash from certain fans, droves of audiences and critics alike are already reveling in The Last Jedi’s bold reveals and revelatory new direction for the saga at large.
Upset fan expectations notwithstanding, Rian Johnson has crafted a story deeply rooted in what makes Star Wars tick. The building blocks of the style and mythology are there, and out of them, Johnson has built something bold and brilliant.
For fans who still feel slighted by the perpetual mystery surrounding the sinister Supreme Leader, here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars' Snoke.
Warning: there will be spoilers for The Last Jedi.
The droves of fans who came into The Last Jedi with “Snoke theories” are now confounded, frustrated by the fact that they came out of the movie with virtually no new knowledge of the mysterious Supreme Leader.
Snoke made an indelible impact in the film itself, both through his immaculate CGI rendering (a huge improvement from his lackluster appearance in The Force Awakens) and the inspired mo-cap performance of Andy Serkis, but all of that is being overshadowed by the mystery that still surrounds the character.
For those still dying to know where Snoke came from, the novel Aftermath: Empire’s End may offer a clue. From the book, we learn that Emperor Palpatine sought to explore the unknown regions, certain that a powerful, dark presence was there, calling to him as it watched over the galaxy from afar. It’s still wholly possible that this entity was Snoke.
The novelization of The Force Awakens offers a few points about Snoke's background that, given the way things turned out in The Last Jedi, now seem all the more precious.
From the book, we learn that, not only did Snoke value Kylo Ren for his Skywalker lineage, but he also had several other apprentices before Kylo. It’s unknown whether Snoke followed the Sith rule of two in his apprentice-seeking practices, but given his position outside the Sith order, it’s difficult to even speculate.
If Snoke had several apprentices before Kylo, who were they? Did Snoke kill them all-- or only some of them? Do these former apprentices make up the Knights of Ren? The fact that Kylo wasn’t Snoke’s only apprentice brings up a lot of questions that, for all we know, may never be answered.
Snoke looks really old— so old, in fact, that he seems to be decaying in front of our eyes. In the Force Awakens novelization, we learn that Snoke is indeed old enough to have witnessed the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire.
What we don’t know, however, is whether Snoke saw the entire span of the Empire up close or from far, far away. The idea that Snoke knows all about the days of the Empire plays nicely into the theory that Snoke was the dark force from the unknown regions, calling to Palpatine in the final years of the Empire.
It’s also possible that Snoke was your everyday citizen of the galaxy, and rose to power in the waning days of the Republic. Either way, it’s all speculation.
Right now, wherever you look in the Star Wars universe, the Force is expanding in more ways than we can count. In everything from the standalone movies to the canon comics and novels, the Force is moving rapidly beyond the dogmas of the Jedi and Sith.
The Last Jedi obviously marks a massive change in the franchise’s approach to the Force, but the movies and other canon materials that set the film up have already introduced ideas and characters that challenged our preconceived notions about the Force.
In Rogue One and The Force Awakens, respectively, we’re introduced to characters like Chirrut and Lor San Tekka, who believe in and operate under the Force without belonging to the Jedi order.
On the dark side, we have Snoke— a powerful Force user who was never part of the Sith order, and never bound to their dogma.
In The Last Jedi, Snoke makes it very clear that he’s pretty much invincible. He certainly demonstrates as much up until his epic death, but he’s also clearly afraid of Luke Skywalker. It’s difficult to tell whether Snoke actually thinks that he’s invincible or that he simply presents himself as such to cloak whatever weaknesses he may have.
The fact that Kylo Ren was able to take down Snoke essentially demonstrates the former. Had Snoke been less confident in his abilities, he may have been more alert and able to detect that Kylo had escaped the prison of his master’s mind control.
Snoke was ultimately taken down by his own arrogance. In this sense, he very much follows in the footsteps of all the most powerful Star Wars villains.
In The Last Jedi, Snoke says he once saw Kylo Ren as a “new Darth Vader”— a progenitor of the Skywalker bloodline with the raw potential to become as powerful as the former Dark Lord of the Sith. However, it’s not so much Vader’s power in the dark side that Snoke was keen on igniting in Ben Solo.
It’s still unclear exactly when and how Snoke was able to seduce Kylo Ren into joining the First Order, but we do know from the Force Awakens novelization that Snoke viewed Kylo as having perfect balance between the dark and light sides of the Force.
Snoke is clearly more aligned with the dark side, but he also values melding of dark and light, even if only to achieve his evil purposes.
There were surely a large number of fans expecting to see the Knights of Ren show up in full force in The Last Jedi. As fate would have it, they were completely absent from Episode VIII, and Kylo is still the only Knight of Ren we know much about.
One thing about the Knights of Ren that has been revealed is that they were under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke. Kylo may be their leader on paper, but only because he was appointed as such by Snoke.
So far, our only glimpse of the Knights of Ren was in Rey’s Force vision from The Force Awakens. Their absence in The Last Jedi may have been disappointing to some, but now it’s all the more likely that they’ll make a bold appearance in Episode IX.
Snoke isn’t quite as immobile a villain as, say, Jabba the Hutt, but he’s definitely close. As we witnessed in The Last Jedi, the Supreme Leader reigns from the comfort of his gorgeous throne room, surrounded by some awesome looking Praetorian guards. This isn’t completely by choice, though, as Snoke’s ancient, warped body and osteoporosis severely limits his movement.
However, what Snoke lacks in mobility, he makes up for in epic Force powers. One of the defining characteristics of The Last Jedi was its expansion of the Force.
Luke Skywalker exhibited force powers that had never been seen in the saga before. Snoke’s powers manifested themselves in vaguely familiar ways (telepathy, force lightning, chokes and throws), but at much more potent, visceral level than even Vader or Palpatine.
Snoke has a singular look in the Star Wars universe—more reminiscent of a Hammer horror character than anything from a galaxy far, far away. According to Andy Serkis, Snoke’s beautifully grotesque features were inspired by the injuries of World War I trench soldiers.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Serkis has clarified that Snoke is driven completely by pain and greed. Snoke’s pain is vividly expressed in his old wounds and deformities. Drawing inspiration from the stark brutality of WWI really paid off in the final product.
Classic war movies like Twelve O’Clock High and The Bridge on the River Kwai were cited by Rian Johnson as primary influences on The Last Jedi.
While these films influenced the plot and mechanics of the The Last Jedi’s battle scenes, it’s interesting that the tragic effects of real war influenced the look of the film’s villain.
Snoke’s mastery of manipulation was on full display in The Last Jedi. He was able to get deep into Kylo Ren’s head—both literally and figuratively—and manipulate Kylo’s every move (for a while at least). He was also able to manipulate both Kylo and Rey into a telepathic relationship that would lead Rey into Snoke’s clutches.
Eventually, Snoke’s arrogance ended up getting the better of him. As always, the dark side apprentice became more powerful than his master, as Kylo Ren out-manipulated the master manipulator.
He beat Snoke at his own game, making for one of the most shocking moments in The Last Jedi. However, despite his swift downfall, for a while there, no one in the galaxy was better at the art of manipulation than Supreme Leader Snoke.
Almost every Force user in The Last Jedi exhibits new kinds of Force powers. The most memorable was Luke, whose astral projection to Crait not only saved the resistance, but also left audiences in a visceral state of shock and awe. Then there was Yoda, who demonstrated that Force ghosts may be able to control the elements when the time is right.
Snoke’s Force powers were a bit more familiar, albeit similarly shocking to behold. We’ve seen Force holds, chokes, lightning, and mental manipulation in dark side users before, but never at such an immediately overpowering level.
Every time Snoke uses the Force, it feels like all hope is lost. In fact, what makes Snoke’s demise so shocking in the moment is that, up until his death, it was nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which anyone could overpower such an all-encompassing evil.
Andy Serkis has almost single handedly turned motion capture performance into a respected art form. Whether as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy or as Caesar in the Planet of the Apes series, Serkis has a singular ability to make his mocap characters as memorable as flesh-and-blood ones.
Serkis’ turn as Snoke in The Last Jedi may be his greatest mocap peformance yet. Snoke’s appearance in The Force Awakens may have been a bit of a visual let down, but he’s undeniably a visual wonder on The Last Jedi.
That’s partly because Serkis doesn’t let the CGI do all of the work. For The Last Jedi, Serkis even taped part of his mouth down in order to get the right movement for Snoke’s deformed, drooping mouth and face. That level of dedication and craft certainly pays off in the end product.
Snoke fears, values, and perhaps even reveres the Skywalker family legacy. He clearly has a deep reverence, if not outright fear of Luke’s place in the galaxy, and his primary reason for recruiting Ben Solo was to exploit the young Jedi’s Vader-like qualities.
The Skywalker family is certainly not without their flaws. According to Snoke, “sentiment” has always been the Skywalker family’s primary weakness. From a certain point of view, he’s not wrong.
It was sentiment that drove Anakin to the dark side in an attempt to save Padme’s life. It was also sentiment that drove Vader to kill Palpatine, save his son, and loose the Empire (not to mention his own life) as a result.
Also, ultimately, it was sentiment that made Leia believe that she could bring her son back from the dark side.
Yes, Snoke died because he couldn’t read Kylo’s mind as well as he thought, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have unprecedented mind reading skills up to that point.
Though he was ultimately outmatched by his apprentice in the art of the mind game, it’s clear that Snoke had indeed been able to read every intimate detail of Kylo’s thoughts and feelings for quite some time.
The Sith were able to intuit feelings more often than they were able to read minds outright. However, there’s something about Snoke’s mind reading capabilities that feel much more invasive than anything we’ve seen in Star Wars before.
In Return of the Jedi, it becomes clear that Palpatine has Vader on a fairly tight leash, largely because Palpatine is deeply entrenched in Vader’s head. Before Kylo flips the switch on Snoke, it’s clear that Snoke has taken the oppressive master/apprentice mind meld to the next level.
Apparently, everyone’s Snoke theory is wrong. With The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson completely negated everyone’s expectations for the second chapter in the sequel trilogy.
In the process, he also created something much more illuminating than any feeble fan theory could have encapsulated. Despite the enormous wave of Snoke theories that built up for two years, nothing was revealed about the character’s backstory.
Frustrated fans need not be dismayed, though. It’s more than likely that Snoke’s origins will be revealed in the future. Even if they don’t, Snoke fulfilled a better purpose in the story of The Last Jedi that didn’t require a complex backstory.
He was a big baddie that unwittingly paved the way for Kylo Ren to become the central villain and arguably the most interesting character in the sequel trilogy. Furthermore, all of Snoke's scenes were awesome.
What are your burning questions about Star Wars' Snoke? Do you think we'll learn more about him in the future? Join the conversation in the comments!