The topic driving Star Wars fans insane as of late — and, really, since his introduction in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — is the mystery of Supreme Leader Snoke. Who is this guy? Where does he come from? And is he a character we’ve seen before? As expected, the Star Wars fandom has some ideas.
Lucasfilm Story Group creative executive Pablo Hidalgo posted to Twitter on May 29 with a passage from Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens novelization, which describes Snoke as “humanoid but not human,” adding: “I guess this question has come up. Snoke’s humanity, as described in the novelization of The Force Awakens.”
Making this unsteady tower of theories even more so, Entertainment Weekly reported in January 2016 that Andy Serkis, who portrayed Snoke in The Force Awakens, “said the character was aware of the events from the earlier films but was a new addition to the storyline.” So, while Snoke is still shrouded in shadows, he might not be as theory-worthy as many Star Wars fans might think. He could just be a run-of-the-mill megalomaniac with a bone to pick.
But, woe be the internet to leave any stone unturned. Here are 5 of the most popular theories about Supreme Leader Snoke’s identity in the Star Wars universe.
5. Mace Windu
Star Wars fans have been scrambling to find an in-world connection between Snoke and previously known characters from the franchise since his appearance in The Force Awakens. One of the first, really big, crazy theories had to do with Snoke being Jedi Master Mace Windu, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in the prequel trilogy. Windu’s famed death in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith at the Force-lightning-hands of Darth Sidious literally threw a lot of arguments for Mace Windu’s continued existence out the window. But Jackson has repeatedly insisted that his character is alive and rearing for a fight, though there’s never been official confirmation that this isn’t just Jackson having fun.
A fan theory video from YouTuber Vincent Vendetta (above) also tries to argue that Snoke is Windu, and posits that being electrocuted and thrown out a skyscraper didn’t kill him, but only prompted him to turn to the Dark side and become Snoke. He also argues that Finn (John Boyega) is Windu’s son, which is why Kylo Ren, Snoke’s apprentice, takes such interest in him. But just because Mace and Finn are two of the three black main characters in the Star Wars universe does not mean they’re related.
Snoke-o-Meter rating: 2/10; Jackson’s enthusiasm is infectious, but the theory is just too out-there and the required exposition for this storyline might confuse a lot of fans and take too long.
4. Darth Plagueis
In one of the longest dialogue scenes in the Star Wars universe, Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) tells Anakin the tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise. Supposedly, Darth Plagueis was so powerful that “he could keep the ones he cared about from dying,” a fact that was the nail in Anakin’s I’m-gonna-turn-to-the-Dark-side coffin. Plagueis taught his apprentice, interpreted to be Palpatine, “everything he knew” before the apprentice killed him. And although Palpatine insisted that Plagueis couldn’t save himself, many Star Wars fans have guessed that maybe, just maybe, Plagueis was able to save himself using his midichlorian-manipulating powers. He then waited around for his back-stabbing apprentice to lose his Empire before starting his own, the First Order.
Snoke-o-Meter rating: 5/10; The full-circle callback to the prequel trilogy would be incredibly satisfying, but Plagueis had his reign already, even if it wasn’t on-screen.
3. Darth Maul
Another popular theory about Snoke being a former Sith is that he’s actually Darth Maul, Darth Sidious’s apprentice from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace who “died” at Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hand at the end of the film. But this theory proves a lot of fans haven’t been paying attention to the canonical Star Wars Rebels, an animated show on Disney XD that is very much considered canon and takes place between Revenge of the Sith and Star War: A New Hope.
Obi-Wan did kill Maul, he just did it a bit later than some fans realize. In the Rebels episode “Twin Suns,” Obi-Wan wins a duel against Maul, who’d been alive for a while in the Rebels canon and wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Maul had survived being cut in half by Obi-Wan due to the cauterizing effect of the lightsaber and lived as a half-robot-spider-person for a while. But, eventually, Obi-Wan did kill Maul on Tatooine, so unless Lucasfilm is really looking to get some grief from Star Wars fans who are aware of the canon-bound Rebels, it seems unlikely that Snoke is Maul.
Snoke-o-Meter rating: 1/10; Maul is canonically dead.
2. The aid, aka Vaneé
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduces a barely-there character, known originally as “the aid,” but who was named Vaneé in Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide. Vaneé is as innocuous as they come, as his entire job seems to be to inform Darth Vader — who’s taking a dip in his trusty bacta tank — when people have arrived at his castle on Mustafar. This theory is two-pronged. First, some fans have speculated that Vaneé is a member of the Acolytes of the Beyond, a group of fanatics who worship the Dark side of the Force and Vader himself. According to non-canon Star Wars novelizations, they bought Darth’s lightsaber from a junk dealer after his death on Endor in order to return it to him in the afterlife.
And, second, perhaps this Acolyte was so loyal to Vader that, upon his death, he not only helped retrieve Vader’s lightsaber but vowed to manipulate Vader’s grandson to the Dark side of the Force and start his own Empire, the First Order. That would also explain how Kylo Ren comes to be in possession of Vader’s mask — the Acolytes would have retrieved it upon Vader’s death, along with his lightsaber.
Snoke-o-Meter rating: 7/10; Even though the Acolytes aren’t officially canon, they would make sense in accordance with Kylo’s obsession (especially if he were trained by them and Snoke) with Vader, and, honestly, this theory has started to convince me.
1. An alien species from the Unknown Regions
This theory seems to be the most plausible of them all. Aftermath: Empire’s End, the third and final book in Chuck Wendig’s canon trilogy that takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, first suggests that the remnants of the Empire fled to the notoriously difficult-to-get-to Unknown Regions after they were thoroughly defeated by the Rebels and the new democracy. Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn also hints at potential threats to the galaxy from the Unknown Regions. As these stories are canon, many fans have speculated that mentioning the area so frequently is a hint at something big coming from the Unknown Regions soon.
The idea here is that Snoke found the final members of the old Empire and took them under his wing, gaining control and manipulating them into the First Order, which he now leads from the safety of the Unknown Regions as he communicates by way of hologram.
Snoke-o-Meter rating: 9/10; The Unknown Regions are called that for a reason. Little is known about the area, canon evidence is stacking up, and Serkis’s comment that Snoke is someone we’ve never seen before all support this theory.