Up until Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens released, the mastermind villain behind the scenes of the entire Star Wars saga was Emperor Palpatine a.k.a. Darth Sidious. The prequel trilogy explored Palpatine's political rise to power over the Galactic Senate and the original trilogy showed his attempts at squashing any who oppose his Empire's reign. Even the canonical television series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels both take place in an era where Palpatine is the ultimate evil. But that's no longer the case.
The Force Awakens takes place more than three decades after Palpatine was killed by his apprentice Darth Vader, and there are now entirely new villains working for a mysterious new leader known only as Supreme Leader Snoke. Who is Snoke? How did he get into power? What is his connection to the Force and prior events of the saga? We're going to take a closer look at these questions and the best available theories.
NOTE: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars 7
Before we start speculating on Snoke's identity and whether he's a new, original character or someone previously established in Star Wars canon, let's first examine what we know for certain about this powerful and dangerous being and what's been said about the character.
What We Know About Snoke
It wasn't until later in post-production that the final design of Supreme Leader Snoke, commander of the First Order, was finalized. Here's what Andy Serkis - who plays Snoke - told EW in November about the Snoke's introduction and how "damaged" he is.
“When we first started working on it, he [Abrams] had some rough notions of how Snoke was gonna look, but it really hadn’t been fully-formed and it almost came out of discussion and performance… That’s been fascinating. And in the meantime I’ve been able to see the look and design of the character grow and change as the performances change. So it’s been really exciting in that respect.”
“Supreme Leader Snoke is quite an enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful. Obviously he has a huge agenda. He has suffered a lot of damage. As I said, there is a strange vulnerability to him, which belies his true agenda, I suppose.”
“No, he’s a new character in this universe. It is very much a newly-introduced character. He’s aware of what’s gone on, in the respect that he has been around and is aware of prior events. I think it’d be fair to say that he is aware of the past to a great degree.”
When performing the voice and motion capture for Snoke, Serkis claims he didn't even know what the character would look like. Abrams and co. had gone through quite a few design iterations but landed on the old and damaged design pictured above. According to the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Snoke is “Tall and gaunt, he was humanoid but not human." We also know from Neal Scanlan, Star Wars 7's chief of creature and droid effects, Snoke is actually "7-foot-something tall; he's very, very thin."
While Serkis' and Abrams' words shouldn't be taken as fact since they are attempting to preserve mysteries for the trilogy, here's what we do know for certain about Snoke from Episode VII:
- He turned Kylo Ren against Luke and the new Jedi order.
- He believes the most power can be obtained from embracing the light side and the dark - hence his interest in Kylo Ren.
- He has something to do with the Knights of Ren, and Kylo being their leader, and therefore responsible for their obsession with Darth Vader.
- He is severely damaged but still lives.
- He's aware of the happenings of the saga.
- He's in charge of the entire First Order and is responsible for reassembling the Empire.
- He seemingly has limitless resources.
- He's unquestionably a Force user given that Force users follow his orders, he trains Kylo, and is described as being "powerful" by the actor playing him.
"It is where you are from. What you are made of. The Dark Side—and the Light. The finest sculptor cannot fashion a masterpiece from poor materials. He must have something pure, something strong, something unbreakable, with which to work."
- Snoke in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization
There are additional details we know about Supreme Leader Snoke that will be referenced in the following pages as we break down some topics on who Snoke really is. Here are the theories we'll examine.
- The Operator
- Darth Plagueis
- Grand Inquisitor
- An Original Character
- Bonus: Mesa Bombad Jedi
Is Snoke The Operator From Star Wars: Aftermath?
- Species: Unknown male
- Appearances: Introduced in Star Wars: Aftermath
The Operator is a mysterious character in Star Wars canon who moviegoers will not know, for he was only introduced in reference in Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath novel published by Del Rey Books on September 4, 2015 as part of the official Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens initiative. The character is unnamed but is expected to have an important role in the rest of the Aftermath trilogy.
We know from Aftermath that "The Operator" is a male character who enjoys classical Old Republic music and who commanded the last remaining Executor-class Star Dreadnought ("Super Star Destroyer"). He took command of this starship after the Battle of Endor, and after being thought dead. It's this same ship, called the Ravager, that's seen in the wrecked on Jakku in The Force Awakens.
This mysterious Fleet Admiral is just as manipulative as Palpatine was. After the Battle of Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi, this character actually leaked information to the New Republic in an effort to destroy the weak, old-fashioned elements of the surviving Imperial fleets.
"This is how it must be. The Empire became this...ugly, inelegant machine. Crude and inefficient. We needed to be broken into pieces. We needed to get rid of those who want to see that old machine churning ineluctably forward. It's time for something better. Something new. An Empire worthy of the galaxy it will rule."
- The Operator to Imperial Admiral Slaone
While it's odd this character is currently unnamed, the secrecy must be for a reason. And remember, this book is in official canon and has at least two followups on the way. This admiral was in command during the original trilogy era and given his Admiral rank and command of one of the largest pieces of Imperial tech, he's likely been around since the beginning. This all explains how if Snoke was one and the same with The Operator, how he was able to reform the remaining Empire into the First Order and how he has such knowledge of the past and the Force. Perhaps it's The Operator's affinity with the Force that explains his calculated successes through manipulation?
Is Snoke Palpatine's Old Master, Darth Plagueis?
- Species: Muun male
- Appearances: Mentioned in Star Was: Episode III
Some believe Darth Plagueis is one and the same as the mysterious Operator but that may not be possible given the obvious fact that The Operator is in command of a Super Star Destroyer and therefore fully known to the Empire's leadership, logically under the orders of Vader and Palpatine during the original trilogy.
Darth Plagueis was first introduced in 2005's Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine makes a play at convincing Anakin that the Dark Side of the Force is the right path for him, that it could be used to help Anakin save his loved ones (in this case, Padme). We learn that Plagueis was actually the master of Palpatine and had so much mastery over the force that he could creative life and prevent death. This quote from the film is canon:
“Darth Plagueis was a dark lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise. He could influence the midichlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the Dark Side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
This backstory was fleshed out in 2012's Darth Plagueis novel by James Luceno. In this book, that was requested from Lucasfilm's high-ups intially before being canceled and then brought back, it's revealed that all of the major events leading up to and during The Phantom Menace were manipulated by Plagueis and Palpatine, from the creation of Anakin out of the Force to the appointment of Padme as a young Queen of Naboo. It's also revealed in this book that like Palpatine, Plagueis was hiding in plain sight as an influential political figure. Everything they do, for decades, is part of long-term plan for the pair to rule to galaxy but each of course had his own agenda. Plagueis wants to become immortal and be rid of the Sith "Rule of Two" (one master and one apprentice, which always leads to betrayal) and Palpatine wants to be the master, taking it upon himself to secretly train Darth Maul and ally with former Jedi, Darth Tyrannus.
In the novel and by George Lucas' approval (source: TheForce.net), Plagueis is a Munn, the thin and tall long-faced aliens seen in the prequels and the Clone Wars series, and serves as the head of the InterGalactic Banking Clan under the name Hego Damask, CEO of Damask Holdings.
Note the cover artwork of the Darth Plagueis novel above and how it depicts Palpatine bowing down to an enlarged hologram figure of his master. Remind you of anything? This is the same way Snoke presents himself as in Episode VII. And just like Munns are actually tall, narrow humanoids, so too is Snoke. According to Neal Scanlan, Star Wars 7's chief of creature and droid effects, Snoke is actually "7-foot-something tall; he's very, very thin," which matches the description.
Snoke's appearance in The Force Awakens is that of someone severely disfigured. That damage must be relevant to the character's history and it does fit the idea that he was poisoned and attacked by Palpatine - as Plageuis was, but somehow survived due to his own experiments with the Force. It would be a brilliant way to tie the Skywalker legacy to the Sith master who started it. The problem here is that the Darth Plagueis novel is sadly no longer canon, meaning Plagueis may not even be a Munn anymore in canon. It's confusing but James Luceno did write the in-canon Tarkin novel and references (read: makes canon) some elements of the Darth Plagueis book.
Working against this Plagueis-is-Snoke theory are other things Andy Serkis and the creative team of The Force Awakens have said as well but these comments could be made in an effort to maintain secrecy. In the The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens book for instance, it's revealed that J.J. Abrams was at one time considering a female character design for Snoke which would contradict the Plagueis theory since Palpatine confirmed Plagueis is a male character. Then again, Serkis was cast very early in the process so they did choose to go with a male character a while ago (and perhaps, all along). Serkis also said - if we can believe him - that he had no idea what the character would look like when beginning to perform, explaining that Snoke concepts were still being developed. And of course, at San Diego Comic-Con in July, a question about Plagueis - specifically in connection to his staff weapon - was brought up to awkward response from co-writer Lawrence Kasdan and an ultimate denial from J.J. Abrams (which, if you followed the development of Star Trek Into Darkness, means nothing).
Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group (who decide what's canon going forward) poked fun at the Plagueis theory on Twitter) which is curious:
@the_1st_minute I think Larry Kasdan not knowing who Plagueis was telling.
— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) December 4, 2015
The staff in question is just one of the many reasons the Darth Plagueis possibility is speculated greatly upon. The design in art and merchandise of Plagueis' weapon of choice is very similar in design to Rey's and we know from official conceptual artwork that Lucasfilm toyed with the idea of Rey's weapon being a double-bladed lightsaber, with blue on one end, and red on the other.
Perhaps it's yet to be revealed that this item is actually a new form of lightsaber. Rey does still have it with her when meeting Luke at the end of The Force Awakens, where she aims to give Anakin's old blue lightsaber back to him. Certainly, whoever left Rey on Jakku when she was young, knew she was a powerful Force user with untapped potential so it's easy to theorize that said mystery "family" who left her there also left the weapon she holds dearly. In fact, it's the only item we know she never, ever parts with and it features prominently in the marketing materials and posters. It's a defining trait of her character like Bowcaster is to Chewbacca so it'll be around for the whole trilogy.
There are other hints of Plagueis being the one and the same as Snoke from the films themselves. Kylo Ren refers to Snoke as being "wise," the same descriptor Palpatine gives Darth Plagueis. John Williams' score for Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens also include a very similar theme for Snoke and Plagueis. Hear for yourself:
It stands to reason that Plagueis created the miracle Force baby Anakin with his experiments and if he's still alive, two film trilogies later, this would explain why why he assigns the Knights of Ren to follow in Anakin's path. It was Anakin whom the Jedi thought would fulfill the prophecy of being the chosen one who could bring balance to the force, and it was also Anakin that Palpatine wanted to partner with under the "Rule of Two" instead of his life-and-death manipulating master. Since Anakin and the Skywalker lineage is still central to the saga, the biggest connection to their origins, and their biggest adversary would be Plagueis.
Plagueis, to be as powerful and intelligent as he is, he'd know Palpatine would ultimately betray him. That's how Palpatine would fulfill his own destiny. And for Plagueis to reach his own full potential, he'd have to die in order to beat death. And who has the resources to fund the Starkiller base? A high-ranking galactic banker would.
What If Star Wars Rebels Is Setting up Snoke?
- Species: Pau'an male
- Appearances: Star Wars Rebels
The Inquisitors are force-using Jedi hunters who've yet to appear in the Star Wars films, yet they are part of canon and are increasing in relevance. After the Jedi Purge at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Darth Vader and the Empire employed Inquisitors to continue hunting down Jedi. It's unclear how they all are trained, or where they come from, but we do know there's one who has a higher rank than the others. He was the Grand Inquisitor and... he looks sort of like Snoke.
The Grand Inquisitor (pictured above) worked directly for Darth Vader and was trained by him like the others. They have so much power that they can commandeer any Imperial vehicle or asset for their use in hunting the Jedi. In the Star Wars Rebels animated series his role is to hunt Kanan and Ezra, the two lead Jedi characters of the story. Since the Inquisitors served as Jedi hunters there are obvious similarities to the Knights of Ren who have done and are doing the same. These Knights aren't "Sith" as far as we know, but embrace the Dark Side and worship Vader. Seeing as how the Grand Inquisitor worked directly for Vader prior, it's easy to see a scenario where he's continuing the task he was previously dedicated too.
Of course, in season 2 of Star Wars Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor seemingly falls to his death, but when has that ever successfully killed a Star Wars icon? Darth Maul and Luke Skywalker both survived similar fates. The question is whether or not the Grand Inquisitor could also have survived the destruction of the Imperial Star Destroyer Sovereign which blew up moments later.
We know from our own conversations with Star Wars Rebels producer Simon Kinberg that the series will connect to upcoming films and stories, so if not the Grand Inquistor, another of these Force-sensitive agents could be connection (or actually be) Snoke.
What if Snoke is an Entirely New Character?
From Andy Serkis' words, Supreme Leader Snoke is simply a new character who's aware of what came before, similar to Maz Kanata. That explains the apparent back-and-forth over Snoke's design. Snoke being a truly new character gives Lucasfilm and its creative teams new opportunities and more creative freedom. If Snoke is someone who conveniently came into power after the Empire's days, that lets the writers and directors explore and craft new lore that's not beholden to the past.
This also lets the Lucasfilm Story Group slowly build and establish the Snoke character in the upcoming in-canon comics, novels, video games, and television series under one unified continuity, one that could even be expanded upon in the Anthology spinoff films.
Why Snoke Should Be An Established Character
If Snoke really has nothing to do with Palpatine though, the origins of Anakin Skywalker and ancient Jedi/Sith beliefs, Disney and Lucasfilm would be discarding the importance of these stories and telling audiences that these other materials aren't really relevant - these lines of dialogue and hints lead to nothingness.
Everything should be therefore be connected in this long-form story. And we have a feeling it is.
A new character, a new take, and a new story are all potentially welcome and in some cases, needed things for the Star Wars universe, especially after the criticisms of how The Force Awakens is too similar to A New Hope. That being said, this isn't a new story. This movie is the seventh chapter in a long-form story, one that focuses on the Skywalker lineage. So for there to be an entirely new and original character, not only introduced, but conveniently leading the new Empire and also a powerful Force user seems... unbelievable and somewhat ridiculous.
Snoke is the successor to Palpatine, a masterful leader who managed to fool the entire galaxy and control it for over two decades. The new big bad needs to live up and surpass that, to be more dangerous and intimidating to that. The only way that's possible might just be for Snoke to be someone who's been around even longer. Whether that means he's Plagueis, some other ancient Sith, or another antagonist from the expanding library of in-canon lore, remains to be seen.
A Supreme Intellect Was Originally Planned by George Lucas
Back in 1983, Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand spoke about the future of Star Wars in an intriguing interview with Prevue magazine in 1983. It was already clear even then that Lucasfilm would eventually make prequels (referred to as preludes back then in several interviews), and yes, a third trilogy to conclude the story with Episode IX.
"If you follow the direction, and project into the final trilogy, you realise that you’re going to meet the supreme intellect, and you think how is it possible to create a man who has such profound cunning that he can not only control Darth Vader, but the fate of Luke Skywalker? Control the destiny of the whole galaxy? You’ll be amazed!"
Even in the '80s, Lucas had envisioned there being another player behind-the-scenes of original trilogy story who had been in control the whole time. It was therefore this that Lucas had build into the prequels to eventually touch on later when he first started working on Episode VII.
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, they were initially working with George Lucas still to keep him available as a consultant. Lucas had treatments already made for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX (potentially even X, XI, and XII) that he gave to Disney but his ideas were at least partly scrapped and he ended up having nothing to do with the production of The Force Awakens or its frequently evolving script.
The Ultimate Villain of the Star Wars Universe
- Species: Gungan male
- Appearances: Star Wars: Episodes I, II, III, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
We'll let this one speak for itself. But what if the most annoying and hated character of Star Wars fiction was also its ultimate and most powerful villain? That would be quite meta and perhaps the only way ever to make Jar Jar friggin' Binks... cool. Imagine it. Jar Jar Binks is The Phantom Menace! This hilarious theory exploded into headlines and all over social media in late October thanks to a popular Reddit-shared explanation of Jar Jar that even earned some recognition on the Late Night talk show circuit. More for laughs than serious consideration, this one is too good not to share. The following as an edited version of the Jar Jar theory written by Lumpawarroo:
Here I will seek to establish that Jar Jar Binks, far from being simply the bumbling idiot he portrays himself as, is in fact a highly skilled force user in terms of martial ability and mind control.
Furthermore, I assert that he was not, as many people assume, just an unwitting political tool manipulated by Palpatine - rather, he and Palpatine were likely in collaboration from the very beginning, and it's entirely possible that Palpatine was a subordinate underling to Binks throughout both trilogies.
And finally, given the above, I will conclude with an argument as to why I believe it is not only possible, but plausible that Jar Jar will make a profound impact on the upcoming movies, and what his role may be.
So first, let's establish Jar Jar as a skilled warrior. While this does not in itself necessitate a connection with the Physical Force, it's highly suggestive in the Star Wars universe - very rarely do we see "normal" characters exhibiting extraordinary stuntwork or physical feats unless they are Jedi, Sith, or at least force sensitives.
Now, taken out of context, if you were watching a Star Wars movie and saw a character casually execute this maneuver, you'd probably assume it was a Jedi. In the context of Jar Jar, though, we don't... because elsewhere he so thoroughly convinces us that he's nothing more than a harmless dunce with his inane dialogue and cowardly-lion act.
He also manages to convince us that he's a bumbling oaf in the midst of pitched battle... even though he's alwaysincredibly, amazingly successful. Whether single-handedly taking down a battledroid tank, or unleashing a barrage of boombas on their front lines, or precisely targeting multiple enemies with a blaster tangled around his ankle (!!!), we simply roll our eyes and attribute it to dumb "luck."
But is it? Obi-Wan warned us otherwise.
This is one of the main reasons we as an audience hate Jar Jar so thoroughly; he breaks the fourth wall, he he shatters our suspension of disbelief, because we know that no one is really that lucky. We dismiss it as a lame, cliched trope-- the silly pathetic oaf who always seems to inadvertently save the day.
I posit that, instead, this is a deliberate facade on the part of Jar Jar as a character, and on the part of the writers and animators. As we know, the Jedi themselves are inspired by Shaolin Monks, and there's a particular kung fu discipline that Jar Jar's physicality is purposefully modeled upon which allows him to appear goofy and uncoordinated even as he lays waste to his enemies; namely, Zui Quan, or Drunken Fist wushu. This discipline seeks to imitate the "sloshing," seemingly random foibles of a drunkard, but in reality the staggering and stumbling is the use of bodily momentum, deception, and unpredictability intended to lure and confuse opponents.
Let's take a look at Jar Jar displaying some wushu (the compasion clips are taken from an instructional Zui Quan video):
- Jar Jar kipping-up vs. Zui Quan Comparison
- Jar Jar "sloshing" vs. Zui Quan Comparison
- Jar Jar Sweeps the Leg vs. Zui Quan Comparison
If you slow down the above gif (use Up and Down arrow keys), you'll notice how Jar Jar dodges an incoming blaster shot at the very beginning. You'll also notice how he's mysteriously aware of the droideka as it appears behind him, even though it isn't in his line of sight and he couldn't possibly hear it over the din of battle....)
That's all well and good, but even if Jar Jar is a secret Drunken Fist boxing master, that doesn't make him a force user, right? Well, it should at least make us suspicious of his character period. It establishes that his over-the-top, childish antics are a veneer masking a more complex character than we're led to believe. But even if you choose to ignore Jar Jar's seemingly magical prescience in battle, I believe that there is a particular scene in which we do see him clearly make use of the physical force...
In The Phantom Meance, when Jar Jar and the Jedi ambush the droids and rescue the queen and her entourage, Jar Jar "accidentally" botches his leap from the balcony. A few frames later, he is seen dropping from the opposite side of the balcony, which would seem to be quite be impossible without a force assisted jump and/or force sprint of some kind. Let's take a look at the full scene:
- Jar Jar Ambush (Note that as they sneak up, Jar Jar is just as effortlessly stealthy as his Jedi counterparts. Interesting.)
Now as I said, we see Jar Jar catch hold of the balcony on the far right side, but then he drops to the ground on the far left. Easy to dismiss as a continuity or framing error, I suppose... except that one of the droids continues to fire on Jar Jar's initial position, even as we see him drop elsewhere!
See the droid that comes charging up, right behind the one Qui-Gon chops down? What's he shooting at up there?? And see its head swing back towards Jar Jars new position after the shot? You can also see another droid behind it tracking Jar Jar with its head, and manage a shot on the new position. This means that the animators knew very well where Jar Jar was supposed to be- dangling from the balcony over Qui-Gon's left shoulder- and purposefully animate the droids tracking his inexplicably fast movement elsewhere.
I think what has happened here, even though we don't see it directly, is that Jar Jar has purposefully split the attention of the enemies by grabbing on to the balcony as he falls, and then (using the force) propelled himself with a pull-up/flip to land in an unexpected place.
In fact, this is a maneuver we've seen before... from a Jedi. Twice, if you want to count Obi-Wan doing it in the Duel of Fates to take Darth Maul by surprise.
Jar Jar is also a master of Jedi Mind Control.
In addition to this kind of highly suspicious physical "luck," I also believe that we're given enough clues to justifiably suspect that Jar Jar is also a master of Jedi Mind Control.
Consider: We hate the way Jar Jar influences major plot points for the same reason we hate his physicality - it messes with our sense of realism. Two experienced Jedi on a serious mission would never actually bring someone that stupid along with them. No character that idiotic would ever really be made a general. They certainly wouldn't be made a Senator. How could anyone like Jar Jar really convince the entire galaxy to abandon democracy? That's ridiculous.
These things are just the political version of his physical "luck." Inadvertent, seemingly comical bumbling that just so happens to result in astoundingly positive results. But what if it isn't inadvertant, and what if Jar Jar's meteoric rise and inexplicable influence isn't the result of dumb happenstance, but the result of extensive and careful use of force mind powers?
Jedi (and presumably Sith) exhibit telltale signs when using the Mind Trick to implant suggestions or influence behavior. For one, they always gesticulate and not-so-subtly wave their hands at the target. Here's a look at some pivotal Jar Jar moments during his political career:
- Jar Jar hand-waving his way towards a promotion to Bombad General
- Jar Jar hand-waving his way towards a promotion to the Senate
- Jar Jar using Force Persuasion as he hand-waves the entire Galactic Senate and ushers in the death of democracy.
Actually, if you watch the prequels with the idea that Jar Jar might be a manipulative, dark character, you begin to notice just how insidious and subtle his manipulation is, and how effective, in almost every sequence he's involved in, and also just how hyper-aware of the overarching plot he really is.
Examples: Jar Jar tricking the Jedi into traveling through the planet core (so that they need him). Jar Jar carefully causing a scene so that they run into Anakin. Jar Jar constantly mocking Qui-Gon behind his back while Anakin is watching (so that Anakin learns disrespect for Jedi authority early on). Jar Jar telling an 8 year old child that the queen is "pretty hot," fanning the flames of the child's infatuation that is exploited later on. I could go on.
Jar Jar Binks and Palpatine were co-conspirators
Now if you lend even the slightest credence to my above points, and acknowledge the possibility that Jar Jar might notbe an idiot, you're almost forced to conclude that Jar Jar Binks and Palpatine were co-conspirators. If Jar Jar is putting forth an elaborate act to deceive people, it means he's not a fool... and if he's not a fool, it means his actions in Episode II that facilitate Palpatine's plans are not those of an unwitting tool- they are those of a partner.
Remember: Palpatine and Jar Jar are from the same planet, which in the scale of the Star Wars universe is like growing up as next door neighbors. It's entirely possible that they knew each other for years prior to The Phantom Menace - perhaps they trained together, or one trained the other. And Naboo is a really strange planet, actually; remember those odd ancient statues with the third eye? Naboo is the kind of place an "outcast" Gungan might find a Sith holocron or two.
But that's just speculation. Let's stick to what we know - what we know is that even after Palpatine is elected as Chancellor, years after Jar Jar has been "tricked" into helping elect him, Palpatine still hangs out with Jar Jar in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Why? Wouldn't he be a constant source of public embarrassment? This is the same character who can't walk five yards without stepping in poodoo or squealing like a rabid donkey, right? What use does he have now? Why is he still at the right hand of the most powerful person in the galaxy? Could it be that in fact Jar Jar is the most powerful person in the galaxy?
Fine. Maybe. Hilarious conspiracy theory, but why would George Lucas bother to create this devious Gungan character with an elaborate conspiratorial past, but then never actually reveal his true nature?
Here's George Lucas (from a documentary) talking about Yoda:
"Yoda really comes from a tradition in mythological storytelling - fairy tales - of the hero finding a little creature on the side of the road that seems very insignificant and not very important, but who turns out to be the master wizard, or the master thing..."
As we all know, one of Lucas' big deals with the prequels was that they were intended to "rhyme" and mirror the original trilogy in terms of general narrative themes. So there should have been a seemingly innocent creature found on the side of the road that later reveals itself as a major player. We do have a creature that this seems to describe precisely... Jar Jar... but of course he never develops into a "master" anything.
Here's what I think happened: I think that Jar Jar was initially intended to be the prequel (and Dark Side) equivalent of Yoda. Just as Yoda has his "big reveal" when we learn that his tottering, geriatric goofball persona is just a mask, Jar Jar was intended to have a big reveal in Episode II or III where we learn that he's not really a naive dope, but rather a master puppeteer Sith in league with (or perhaps in charge of) Palpatine.
However, GL chickened out. The fan reaction to Jar Jar was so vitriolic that this aspect of the trilogy was abandoned. Just too risky... if Jar Jar is truly that off-putting, it's potentially ruinous to the Star Wars legacy to imply that he's the ultimate bad guy of the entire saga. So pretend he was just a failed attempt at comic relief instead.
This is why Dooku seems like such a flat, shoehorned-in character with no backstory; he was hastily written in to cover the plot holes left when villain Jar Jar was redacted. Yoda was meant to duel with his literal darkside nemesis and mythological equivalent at the end of AotC: not boring old Count Dooku, but Sith Master Jar Jar. And Binks was meant to escape, not just that duel but to survive the entire trilogy... so that he could cast a shadow on the OT, too; you'd rewatch the originals knowing that the Emperor wasn't necessarily the big baddie after all... Jar Jar is still out there somewhere. It would have been sort of brilliant.
But I believe it is likely that the writers of the new trilogy will resurrect this idea. Most people seem to think that Disney wishes to distance or somehow disassociate itself from the prequels... but this doesn't actually make any economic or marketing sense. There is far more prequel-era based intellectual property to capitalize on than there is OT, if only because of the Clone Wars movie and series. Billions of dollars in iconic toys, images, characters, games, park rides, etc that an entire younger generation grew up on. Disney is not going to pretend that over half of the $4 billion in IP they bought simply isn't worth acknowledging (and anyway, we have behind the scenes TFA footage clearly showing imagery being reused from the prequels. Also, many of the flags above Maz's castle in the trailer are from The Phantom Menace)
No, it stands to reason that one of their primary goals will be to reinvigorate and ultimately try to redeem the prequels in the eyes of the fanbase. To elevate and improve them retroactively, as much as possible. So how do you do that?
Jar Jar Binks has undoubtedly become the face of everything that is "wrong" with the prequels- he was too silly, too unbelievable, seemingly pointless. If you are able to somehow change the nature of Jar Jar from embarrassing idiot to jaw-dropping villain, suddenly the entire prequel trilogy must be seen in a new light, because it becomes the setup for the most astounding reveal in film history:
Jar Jar Binks is Supreme Leader Snoke!
Don't worry. He's not.
Additional Notes about Star Wars Villains
We'll update and expand this post as we learn more about Snoke and other related characters in the upcoming films, novels, television series, etc., but for now we'll mention a few other interesting observations, notes, and characters fans should keep in mind going forward.
- In canon, Darth Maul was brought back from death, despite being chopped in half and knocked down a seemingly endless tube on Naboo. If Plagueis can cheat death and create life, it would be strange to think he really couldn't be back. As far as we know, he's the most powerful force user in the saga to date. And he most certainly wouldn't trust his ambitious apprentice.
- Snoke's tall and skinny design could be another of J.J. Abrams' many nods and uses of Ralph McQuarrie’s original Star Wars conceptual art, in this case his old design for Darth Sidious pictured above.
- Another important character to keep in mind is Yupe Tashu, a Sith worshipping loyalist to Palpatine and the Empire (who has an in-canon Sith artifact). Tashu's plan for rebuilding the Empire seems to match what Snoke's First Order actually is.
- Brandol Hux (father of The Force Awakens' General Hux) served the Republic Army during the Clone Wars and later the Empire. He created a secret academy for handpicked, elite cadets. His role explains how Hux is in charge of the First Order's Stormtrooper program and their Starkiller base.
- We know Luke Skywalker was searching for original Jedi temples and if we're talking ancient Force users then we must also talk Darth Bane. Whether or not the rumors of the working title of Star Wars: Episode VII being "The Ancient Fear" have any truth or not, there are definite ties established in The Force Awakens in connection to the Force that are related to the old. Darth Bane is an ancient Sith Lord, from a thousand years before the events of the Star Wars saga. Back then, Dark and Light Force users were commonplace but the Sith Order collapsed in on itself due to their nature of being selfish, and treacherous. This allowed the Jedi to thrive and caused Bane to enact a new tradition for the Sith, the "Rule of Two" where there will always be one master and one apprentice. That operational mandate of the Sith carried through (mostly) for the millennium since. Darth Bane appears in the series finale episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars when Yoda visits the Sith homeworld of Moraband and confronts the specter of Bane, the last Sith to be buried there. The reason Yoda goes here is to learn the secrets of... you guessed it, immortality. Cue the Force ghosts!
If you have more notes, theories, ideas let us know and we may just add them.Star Trek: Discovery Makes A Bad Original Series Movie Better
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