It appears that Supreme Leader Snoke, the evil big bad lurking in the shadows of the new Star Wars trilogy, will remain in the shadows. Even though fans know so little about the villain that they’re concocting insane fan theories to fill the many gaps, the director of the upcoming Last Jedi says his movie won’t explain much of Snoke’s backstory. It’s an intentional choice, one that connects Snoke to a previous Star Wars villain: Emperor Palpatine in the original trilogy.

In an interview with Empire for the magazine’s October issue, director Rian Johnson explained that Palpatine was an effective villain-behind-the-villain in the original films because audiences didn’t need to know his backstory. He was just The Bad Guy.

“We got the whole story of Palpatine’s rise to power in the prequels, but in the original films he’s exactly what he needs to be, which is just ‘The Emperor’” Johnson told Empire. “He’s a dark force: the scary thing behind the thing. That was entirely how I approached Snoke. I wasn’t interested in explaining where he came from or telling his history, except where it serves this story.”

Even though modern genre fans are loathe to let any bit of backstory go unexplored, Johnson’s comments make a certain amount of sense. By not making Snoke’s villainy overly complex, it gives the films more room to explore Kylo Ren’s more nuanced villainy. Plus, given how the prequel trilogy turned out, do we really want to go into Snoke’s backstory? Maybe it’s okay to just let a bad guy be a bad guy.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.