With less than two weeks to go until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans are either clamoring for every detail they can glean about the film or desperately trying to avoid any potential spoilers. Fan theories have been ubiquitous ever since the movie was first announced, and one in particular is garnering renewed attention, suggesting that the true villain of The Force Awakens was revealed over a decade ago, in the last of the prequel movies.
[Potential Spoilers/ Speculation Follows]
The theory, well articulated by Donna Dickens at HitFix, concerns the character thought to be the true face of the Dark Side in the new film, Supreme Leader Snoke, played by actor Andy Serkis. Though Kylo Ren has dominated the marketing for The Force Awakens, he is thought to be simply an enforcer of the First Order, not its leader. That task most likely falls to Snoke, a character that will be rendered through motion-capture, about whom fans know almost nothing.
Serkis has described Snoke as an “enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful.” While strikingly little has been revealed about the character, fans know he has an agenda, though both his species and allegiance have yet to be articulated. That hasn’t stopped speculation, however, and some fans think they’ve heard of Snoke before, albeit in a far different context.
— TheHiredGun (@Spoilerboard) December 2, 2015
During Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine tells Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis, the Sith lord’s own mentor, who had learned the secrets of immortality. Palpatine claimed that Plagueis had been killed by his student, but some fans have asserted that the character lived on, and that Supreme Leader Snoke is, in actuality, Darth Plagueis.
I’m saying this now: Andy Serkis is Darth Plagueis in Star Wars! pic.twitter.com/fWDfgIdHh8
— Dʌrth Richie (@richie_nova) December 1, 2015
The evidence for such a connection, though sparse, is compelling. Plagueis was described as a Munn in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, a species that would distinctly require motion-capture to articulate on-screen. As Scified points out, Serkis recently spoke about Snoke, revealing that the character is “large” and “appears tall,” with features that couldn’t be achieved using prosthetics. Such a description is consistent with a Munn, one of whom was seen in Attack of the Clones.
— Star Wars Tonight (@StarWarsTonight) November 19, 2015
Though much of the Expanded Universe was cast aside when Disney relegated the novels to their “Legends” series, James Luceno’s Tarkin re-established the character in the new canon. Beyond that, fans have looked to Plagueis’ affiliation with immortality as the driving reason he could still be around in the Star Wars universe at the time of The Force Awakens.
As Dickens points out, Yoda articulates a core difference in Jedi and Sith belief during The Clone Wars, pointing out that Dark Side acolytes are “captivated by the physical realm.” The fan theory asserts that Plagueis could have gone so far as to utilize a clone as a vessel to continue his existence beyond the realms of death, a concept that was explored in other Expanded Universe stories in relation to Palpatine.
Supreme Leader Snoke aka Darth Plagueis (Darth Sidious’ old master). pic.twitter.com/u0CdzMUJio
— Gray Fox (@GrayFoxMGSV) November 27, 2015
Extended versions of the theory posit that the Jedi master Sifo-Dyas, responsible for the creation of the Clone Army of the Republic, was actually Plagueis’ alter-ego. Such a history would establish a pattern of identity-swapping on the part of the Sith lord, potentially setting up a viable background to his new role as Supreme Leader Snoke.
Even if well-thought out, this entire theory is still little more than speculation, of course. Fans will find out the truth behind the rumors when they get their first look at Supreme Leader Snoke, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters later this month.