Since the announcement of his involvement, the mystery surrounding Andy Serkis' CGI character Supreme Leader Snoke has been one of the most well-guarded secrets in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Who is the man behind the rise of the First Order? Why does he wish to recreate the Empire and destroy the New Republic? What does Kylo Ren mean to him, and how are the two characters related?
Even now after the release of the film, many of those questions remain unanswered. There is shockingly little known about the character. This article will look at what we do know, using that to speculate on the exact nature of the new big, bad villain of the Star Wars universe.
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First things first, we're pretty confident Supreme Leader Snoke is not, in fact, a giant, despite the character's appearance throughout the film. Though initially confusing, it is revealed the massive, CGI "man" whom Kylo Ren and General Hux consult is actually just a hologram. The hologram's size is likely just for visual effect, and also a symbol for the character's high status as the leader of the First Order.
But even if he's not actually a giant cross between Lord Voldemort and Gollum, who is Snoke? Is he a Sith? We can only assume so. It appears Snoke was extremely influential in luring Kylo Ren to the dark side. At the end of the film, he invites Ren to join him so that Ren may complete his training in the ways of the force.
It's also worth noting that Snoke's existence is not a complete mystery. Both Han and Leia seem to know of the First Order's mysterious leader, even if the wider galaxy does not.
So if Snoke is indeed a lord of the Sith, where did he come from? The answer may lie in the prequel book to The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Aftermath. The book describes how a certain sect of the Imperial remnant, lead by Emperor Palpatine's former adviser Yupe Tashu, believes that the Dark Side is the only way they will be able to regain control of the universe. Here's a quote from the book, uttered by Tashu during a secret Imperial summit devised to plan the future of the Empire:
We must instead move toward the Dark Side. Palpatine felt that the universe beyond the edges of our maps was where his power came from. Over the many years he, with our aid, sent men and woman beyond known space. They built labs and communication stations on distant moons, asteroids, out there in the wilds. We must follow them. Retreat from the galaxy. Go out beyond the veil of stars. We must seek the source of the Dark Side like a man looking for a wellspring of water.
Snoke very well could be the "source" that Tashu speaks of. Snoke certainly appears to be an ancient Sith, his skin gray and mangled, almost as if he's been stiched together after death.
Some online speculate that Snoke may indeed be Darth Plagueis, the master of Darth Sidious said to have learned the secret of immortality. Palpatine describes his old master to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith:
"Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying."
It's heavily implied in the film, though not explicitly stated, that Sidious murdered his master. The now non-canon book Darth Plagueis documents Palpatine's rise to power under his master and Plagueis' murder at the hands of his apprentice.
But it's very possible Plagueis could still be alive. The book itself even states that Plagueis had the power to create life through the use of the dark side of the Force, implying Anakin himself (who has no father) may have been conceived through one of Plagueis' experiments. After Palpatine kills his master, he remarks feeling a shift in the Force and is fearful that Plagueis may have discovered some way to return back to life. For what it's worth, Plagueis on the cover of the book doesn't look all that different from how Snoke is depicted in the movie as well.
Because so much of the information regarding Plagueis comes from the now non-canon Expanded Universe, it's hard to say what the true story behind Palpatine and his former master his. For Snoke to be Plagueis, however, would make a lot of sense. Snoke is heavily deformed, which he obviously would be if he died once already and had lived for hundreds of years. If Plagueis is indeed responsible for the birth of Anakin Skywalker, the character's appearance in the film series proper would fit perfectly in context. After all, Star Wars is the story of the Skywalker family. Having the dark Sith lord responsible for the creation of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine arise as the franchise's new villain would bring the saga full circle.
Ultimately, we don't yet know enough about Snoke to truly determine who or what exactly he is. That he's an ancient Sith is almost certain, but as for his origins or his perhaps secret identiy as Darth Plagueis, we can only continue to speculate.