Who is Snoke? That's the question Star Wars fans have been asking before The Force Awakens was even released. While several people working on the production of the new Star Wars trilogy have supposedly debunked many fans’ theories, remember that creators can and do lie about the details of their projects, sometimes because they’re under contract to do so and sometimes for the sake of not spoiling a big reveal within a movie.
From the plausible to the downright nonsensical, there are some great (well, at least entertaining) theories about the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. Theories and conspiracies abound everywhere from canon to the Expanded Universe (or Legends) – and before you say that they wouldn’t bring a character from Legends into the main canon, remember the non-canon character Thrawn was brought back into the Star Wars Universe with very few changes in the animated series Star Wars Rebels.
Now, in the words of Old Ben Kenobi, let’s look at this from a certain point of view and try to uncover the truth about Supreme Leader Snoke’s identity. It's still somewhat murky, even after the release of The Last Jedi.
Despite what J.J. Abrams and others involved in the production of The Force Awakens have said about Snoke not secretly being Plagueis, fans of science fiction franchises in general and Abrams in particular are familiar with this game – Khan, anyone? For those of you who (understandably) fell asleep during the prequels, Plagueis was Palpatine’s master. He was a supremely powerful Sith Lord who supposedly found a way to cheat death.
One compelling bit of evidence that supports the theory that Snoke is Plagueis is in the respective scores of Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. As the video above illustrates, the music playing when Palpatine tells Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis is nearly identical to Snoke’s theme in The Force Awakens. This theory from Reddit user DatAEK971 operates on the belief that Plagueis knew Palpatine was going to attempt to kill him and somehow managed to trick Palpatine into believing he succeeded.
Some concrete facts we do know about Snoke is that he is a) old and, b) has been watching events unfold from the shadows. As is mentioned in the book The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Snoke says that he “watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall.” From this, it can be implied that Plagueis played a key role in the rise of the Empire.
He secretly orchestrated a number of key events that led to the formation of the Empire, most notably the building of the clone army and the appointment of Palpatine as the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Also, the novelization of The Force Awakens describes Snoke as being “tall and gaunt” and “humanoid but not human.” Plagueis was not human, but a Muun – a species described as “thin, tall humanoids.” Although the cast and crew of the new trilogy have emphatically denied that Snoke is Plagueis, it remains the most compelling theory.
The reigning theory amongst the “who is Snoke?” theories is not a theory at all – some fans just think he’s an entirely new character. This would fall in line with what the cast and crew of the new trilogy have said about Snoke’s identity, as they’ve repeatedly debunked theory after theory.
Andy Serkis, who plays Snoke in the films, was quoted saying, “He’s a new addition to the storyline.” And Pablo Hidalgo, the creative executive at Lucasfilm, actually made some handouts that perfectly encapsulate his feelings on the matter. They read, rather succinctly, "Your Snoke Theory Sucks."
Another popular theory, detailed in the video above, postulates that Snoke is actually the Grand Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels. The Grand Inquisitor was a Force-trained being who answered directly to Darth Vader, tasked with finding and eliminating the remaining Jedi. So, what are the tenants of this hypothesis?
Snoke and the Inquisitor have similar facial features, and both are very powerful Force users. While the Inquisitor died on an episode of Rebels, just before his death, he told Kanan, “You have no idea what you’ve unleashed here. There are some things more frightening than death.” This ominous warning could have foreshadowed his return as someone greater and even more powerful, like Supreme Leader Snoke.
A popular, if divisive, theory posits that Mace Windu is Supreme Leader Snoke. It’s no secret that the purple-lightsaber-wielding Jedi Master didn't exactly get on with Anakin Skywalker. The theory, detailed in the above video, claims that Windu survived the fall from Palpatine’s window and returned to seek revenge on the Skywalker family because he blamed Anakin for the fall of the Jedi and the Republic.
The most convincing piece of evidence to support this theory is the fact that Kylo Ren uses one of Mace Windu’s signature moves in lightsaber combat. This suggests that Windu, as Snoke, trained Kylo Ren in his favored lightsaber techniques. The theory also alleges that Finn is actually Windu’s son, though the evidence for that particular point is rather thin.