The outlandish theory keeps gaining steam. Is Snoke Darth Plagueis, and should we care? (Who is that anyways?) Evidence can argue either way.
Recently, Collider released a video to talk about a topic that has been hotly debated by fans: the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke, played by Andy Serkis, is a motion-capture character who can be heard in the original The Force Awakens teaser trailer with his line, “There has been an awakening, have you felt it?” The character has Dark Side connections and, based on what we know, commands the First Order. Characters like Kylo Ren report to him.
While most of the characters in The Force Awakens are new characters (except those played by returning actors), fans have speculated since the beginning that Snoke might be Darth Plagueis, who was first mentioned by Palpatine (Darth Sidious) in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Recently, a Spanish language magazine had a few character images from The Force Awakens. Included in these images was a look at Supreme Leader Snoke, who looked suspiciously like Darth Plagueis. The folks at Collider checked with their sources and, though they didn’t confirm that Snoke is Plagueis, their sources did confirm that this is what Snoke looks like.
This created quite a stir among Star Wars fans. While many think that Snoke is indeed Plagueis, there are many fans who adamantly think otherwise. There’s an argument to be had on both sides.
Who is Darth Plagueis?
According to George Lucas, Plagueis was a Muun, a thin, narrow-faced species of alien with a flair for finances. A Star Wars book, Darth Plagueis, detailed the story of this Sith, who was Palpatine’s master. However, this book is no longer canon, so we cannot assume that Plagueis’ backstory/species are the same in the new Star Wars canon.
Here’s what little we do know:
According to Palpatine, “Darth Plagueis was a dark lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise. He could influence the midichlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the Dark Side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” So Plagueis had some power over life and death. We also learn that Palpatine killed Plagueis in his sleep. But this information is vague at best, and depends on the validity of Palpatine’s statement, which we can’t confirm.
The Argument For
Despite many fans vehemently arguing that Snoke cannot be Plagueis, there does seem to be some evidence to the contrary, especially this last week.
1. Collider’s Video and the Spanish Language Magazine
Collider, in their video, confirmed through their sources that the magazine image does look like Snoke. Of course, the magazine could be a fake, and Collider acknowledges that. But even if it is a fake, Collider’s sources say that this is pretty much what Snoke looks like.
So the real question is, can we trust Collider’s sources? Collider is a fairly reputable entertainment news site, but they don’t get everything right. Yet the fact that they’re willing to stick to this theory only a few days before we find out the truth says something about their confidence in the rumor.
But again, this doesn’t confirm that Snoke is Plagueis. It only suggests that Snoke looks like a Muun.
2. Disney Asks Collider to Edit Their Video
Adding fuel to this rumor is the fact that Disney asked Collider to edit out that part of the video (which they have). Let’s assume that the image was a fake and that Snoke doesn’t look like Plagueis. If so, it wouldn’t make much sense for Disney to request the removal of that segment. In fact, this move by Disney only increases the possibility that there’s some credibility to the image, or Collider’s sources.
3. People Magazine Description
People Magazine released an issue with some information on Snoke from Neal Scanlan (head of creature effects for The Force Awakens). In this article, he specifies that Snoke is seven feet tall and “very, very thin.” Tall and thin perfectly describes a Muun, Plagueis’ species. However, tall and thin really isn’t solid evidence of what Snoke looks like (and in fact describes a lot of species in the Star Wars galaxy, including some we’ve seen before). It just doesn’t disprove the theory.
4. Darth Plagueis’ Abilities
Palpatine says that Plagueis was killed in his sleep. But remember that Plagueis had abilities unparalleled by other Sith or Jedi. He had power over life and death. Now, the simplest answer is that Plagueis is dead when Palpatine says he is, but writers could easily get around this dialogue if they wanted to. You could argue that Palpatine lied, or that Plagueis deceived Palpatine. Remember, this is a saga about space wizards with laser swords. Anything is possible.
The Argument Against
Despite some odd evidence to the contrary, it isn’t likely that Snoke is Darth Plagueis. It’s actually pretty easy to make a strong counter-argument without having to jump through quite so many narrative hoops.
1. San Diego Comic Con
At the San Diego Comic Con panel a fan asked about Darth Plagueis. Lawrence Kasden, writer for The Force Awakens, didn’t even appear to know who Plagueis is (though JJ Abrams, the director, does mention that Kasden was joking around). JJ also specifically says “no” to the fan theory. The only problem with this evidence is that the fan specifically asked if there would be mention of Plagueis or his staff. There may indeed be no mention of Plagueis in the film, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Snoke is not a Muun, or that his identity will not be revealed in future films.
2. Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group
Pablo Hidalgo is a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group. If anyone knows who Snoke is and what happened to Plagueis, not to mention any future plans for these characters, it’s Pablo. He has made several comments on Twitter that suggest Snoke is not Plagueis. Check out the tweets below:
@the_1st_minute I think Larry Kasdan not knowing who Plagueis was telling.
— Pabmé Amidalgo (@pablohidalgo) December 4, 2015
“He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep debunked fan theories from dying.”
— Pabmé Amidalgo (@pablohidalgo) November 25, 2015
*stares at salt and pepper shakers* * S & P* * whispers “,,,Snoke and Plagueis”* * drops coffee mug * * shatters. reveals Kobayashi logo*
— Pabmé Amidalgo (@pablohidalgo) December 10, 2015
3. Dead Usually Means Dead
I’m a big fan of Occam’s’ Razor, which says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. In this case, the simplest explanation is that Plagueis was dead when Palpatine said he was dead. Furthermore, the simplest explanation is that Snoke is a new character, because creators definitely want a fresh story with this film.
But to be fair, I’ve been wrong about the simplest answer before. When we saw the first trailer I assumed that the desert planet was Tatooine, because why have two planets that look exactly alike? While identical desert planets might appear in the Star Wars universe, it didn’t make much sense (to me) to have two identical planets confusing casual audiences. But I was wrong, and that desert planet was confirmed to be Jakku. I also thought that a new superweapon was unlikely, but I was wrong there as well.
Star Wars also isn’t a place where death is treated like a relative or temporary thing. Sure, some Jedi stick around as Force ghosts, but this isn’t superhero comics, where “dead” usually means “will show up again in a few months.” Alderaan is destroyed, and Yoda isn’t coming back to life.
3. The Evidence Appears Fake
Let’s face it, the image looks like a crude fan drawing. Despite what Collider is saying, it still hints of wishful thinking on the part of some fan artist. Also, when you compare the image to a past image of Plagueis (from a 2012 book), it looks like the new image was a crude hand-drawn copy of the first. You can see a comparison above. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it casts doubt on the validity of this rumor.
So is Snoke Darth Plagueis? Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to find out. The Force Awakens is out in just a few days, and we’ll all have the chance to see Supreme Leader Snoke for ourselves. If he’s a Muun, these Plagueis rumors will continue, but if not, we can safely assume that Snoke is a new character.
The Force Awakens opens in theaters next week on December 18th, 2015.