Fans of the original Star Wars trilogy look back fondly on the cackling menace of the Emperor, the black-clad Sith lord whose story remained a canonical mystery until the prequel trilogy introduced Ian McDiarmid’s Sheev Palpatine. The slimy, duplicitous politician slowly wormed his way up the chain of command in the prequels, until he found himself the head of the Galactic Republic, which he summarily dismissed in favor of the Galactic Empire.
While the prequels fleshed out the details of the Emperor’s rise to power, they also washed away all the sinister ambiguity from the character. According to Rian Johnson, the director of the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, audiences won’t be getting a similar infodump when his film releases this December. Instead, the trilogy’s main villain, Supreme Leader Snoke, first introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will retain an ambiguous backstory -- for the most part.
“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 with Entertainment Weekly. “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. But the really exciting [thing] for me is we will see more of him, and Andy Serkis will get to do much more in this film than he did in the last one, and that guy is just a force of nature.”
So, it sounds like Star Wars fans looking for a deep dive into Snoke’s backstory are going to be left wanting. Rumors about the villain’s identity have been swirling for some time now. If a character has been mentioned in a Star Wars movie then chances are there are theories about how they’re actually Snoke. A short list of names includes: Darth Plagueis, a character briefly discussed in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith; Mace Windu, supposedly resurrected after his fatal bout with Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith; and Darth Vader himself, freshly risen from the grave – again.
That’s doesn’t mean audiences will be getting less than nothing, though. Serkis hinted that Snoke’s story is something of a tragic one.
“He has suffered and he has suffered injury,” Serkis said. “The way that his malevolence comes out is in reaction to that. His hatred of the Resistance is fueled by what’s happened to him personally.”
Arriving Dec. 15, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Kely Marie Tran, Gwendoline Christie, Domnhall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.