For as great a villain as Darth Vader is, he was decidedly more intriguing before we learned his backstory in the prequels. The same can be said of Emperor Palpatine, whose rise to power was just as central to the prequel trilogy as Anakin Skywalker's descent to the Dark Side. And then, of course, you have the villains whose primary selling points are their eye-catching appearances, such as Boba Fett, Darth Maul and Captain Phasma. Lucasfilm taking the time and care to craft Kylo Ren into an adversary who’s truly worthy of sharing the screen with the galaxy’s most beloved heroes is an effort that should be commended, and if it needs to come at the expense of Snoke, so be it.
But The Last Jedi isn't necessarily the end of Snoke's Star Wars journey. Much like the other aforementioned villains, it’s entirely possible Lucasfilm already has plans to explore more of Snoke’s backstory in ancillary materials, such as a novel or even a Marvel Comics miniseries. Darth Maul, in particular, shares many similarities to Snoke in terms of how he was handled on the big screen (right down to being cut in half by a lightsaber), and that character has benefited immensely from the various Darth Maul comics, his inclusion in the Ahsoka novel, and his appearances on both the Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series. Should Lucasfilm opt to do the same with Snoke, perhaps fans will finally get some of the answers that have eluded them for the past two years.
Even if we don’t learn more about Snoke, though, fans shouldn’t feel cheated. In Rian Johnson’s own words, everything that was truly important about Snoke in the context of the story was presented on-screen. “For example, in the original trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except exactly what we needed to know, which is what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader,” Johnson said in an interview prior to The Last Jedi’s release. “But then in the prequels, you knew everything about Palpatine because his rise to power was the story. We’ll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to.”
At the end of the day, the legacy Supreme Leader Snoke leaves behind is Kylo Ren. His distinction as the biggest MacGuffin in the Star Wars franchise comes second.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. The film is in theaters worldwide.