It's been a month of ups and downs for the #StarWars franchise and its fans alike. On one hand, we were treated to the release of #RogueOne on December 15th and it was one of the greatest cinematic experiences in recent memory and probably did more for the continuation of the Star Wars brand than #TheForceAwakens ever could have hoped to.
On the other hand, we lost our dear #PrincessLeia just days after Christmas. In one of the most devastating news stories of the year, it was announced that beloved actress #CarrieFisher had passed away at the age of 60 on December 27th — and to make matters even more depressing, her mother #DebbieReynolds followed the very next day.
In an attempt to lighten the mood, I've decided to post my very first official #FanTheory about one of the biggest and most debated mysteries in the Star Wars universe.
Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?
Supreme Leader Snoke, you will recall, was introduced in The Force Awakens as the leader of The First Order — the malicious military organization that rose from the ashes of the fallen Galactic Empire. Not much is yet known about Snoke beyond the fact that he's in charge, possibly Force sensitive (yes, I said possibily — More on that in a bit) and that he manipulated Ben Solo into using his powers for the Dark Side to become Kylo Ren.
There have been many guesses, suspicions and fan theories as to who #Snoke really is. They've ranged from the plausible to the very highly unlikely and foolish. Some of the most common include him being a clone of #EmperorPalpatine (a story used in the now defunct Star Wars #DarkEmpire comic book) or possibly as the once mentioned #DarthPlagueis — Palpatine's Sith Lord master.
I find that one to be an interesting notion but not likely due to the mismatched physical comparison of how Snoke — albeit an obvious burn victim — looks versus the artist and character depictions of the more literary based Darth Plagueis. However, the the burn victim detail is the leading contributor to what seems to have become the most common and fan favored theory as to the true identity of the First Order's mysterious leader.
Is Snoke Really Darth Vader?
Before I continue, I must say that this IS NOT the character that I believe Snoke to be. I'm merely acknowledging it to further make my point. So don't stop reading just yet because this is about to get a whole lot nerdier.
I should point out that the current theory is not that Snoke is actually Darth Vader as we know him from the original trilogy (or that incredibly sweet lightsaber scene from Rogue One). Obviously we saw him die in Return of the Jedi and join Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Force ghost — though I'm not sure how welcome he actually would have been in that company, all things considered.
Instead, it is theorized that the light and dark personalities split in two at the moment of death, with Anakin joining Obi-Wan and Yoda while Darth Vader possibly became Snoke. While this is an interesting twist, I don't see it to be fully justified as Snoke — in The Force Awakens — was not a Force ghost. He was a hologram, which means he has a physical form somewhere. When a Jedi (or Sith for that matter) becomes one with the Force they are no longer bound by, or in need of, a physical form.
After all, luminous beings are they...not crude matter. At that stage they have become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. So why would the Force ghost personality of Darth Vader need to go and become a physical being again? He wouldn't.
Which is why I now submit to you that...
Supreme Leader Snoke is actually Grand Admiral Thrawn!
What?! Yeah, I don't think anybody saw this one coming but hear me out. I feel like I have a totally justified reason for this being my theory as to the true identity of Leader Snoke.
Many fans will recall that Grand Admiral Thrawn was the Imperial leader who fought for and seized control of the shattered Empire in the classic and fan favorite novel #HeirToTheEmpire by acclaimed sci-fi and beloved Star Wars author, Timothy Zahn.
Once upon a time, there was an "Expanded Universe" of official Star Wars canon beyond the confines of the feature films. George Lucas gave his stamp of approval on every creative decision that was made and the continuity was on point and one of the intricately woven works of connected fiction out there. It all began with Heir to the Empire and it's two sequels that made up what has become known as "The Thrawn Trilogy" — and for twenty years was considered to be the official Episodes VII - IX.
In the story, Thrawn works his way through the power struggle that emerged in the early days of the Emperor's defeat and manages to take control of the weakened Imperial forces. He recruits the help of powerful characters like Mara Jade — the Emperor's side apprentice following his suspicions of Vader's inevitable betrayal — and a clone of respected Jedi Master Jorus C'baoth — whom he had engineered to be one with the Dark Side.
Fans the whole world over were devastated when Disney announced that the Expanded Universe was no longer canon and that they were going in their own creative direction with Episodes VII - IX and the spin-off films. Sure, The Force Awakens was a great film and is definitely telling an intriguing story, but Grand Admiral Thrawn and the rest of the EU deserved better.
But there was renewed hope when...
Grand Admiral Thrawn came back to canon on Star Wars: Rebels!
The loss of Thrawn from continuity was too much for fans to handle and Disney listened. They brought the character back on the Disney XD animated series #StarWarsRebels and fandom rejoiced for it.
But why do I think that Thrawn is Supreme Leader Snoke?
The First Order rose from the ashes of the Empire but Snoke really needs to be someone who was closely associated with the Empire to have maintained such uniformity to its structure and to have modeled The First Order after it so closely. This is why the Palpatine, Vader or even possibilities like a clone of Tarkin theories were so plausible.
But the Palpatine/Vader story is over. The Force Awakens brought a lot of nostalgia with it but I don't think anyone really wants a rehash with the same villains in control.
Also, lets look at the manipulation of Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren. It sounds vaguely similar to the use of Mara Jade and Jorus C'baoth, don't you think? As an audience we assume that Snoke is Force sensitive and in control of the Dark Side...but what if he's not? What if he has no control over the Force at all and that's why it's so important for him to maintain a hold on Ren? Perhaps he just gave off the illusion of Force sensitivity like a cold reading "psychic" to twist Ben Solo and emerge his dark side tendencies.
More than that, though, what if it's just Disney and Lucasfilm's clever way of never truly disbanding the Expanded Universe as a whole and maintaining some semblance of it? Fans were distraught at the idea of losing "The Thrawn Trilogy," so maybe revealing that Snoke is actually Grand Admiral Thrawn is their way of still having him as the main villain of their new "official" Episodes VII - IX.
Obviously there would need to be some back story as to how he ended up in the shape that he did and changed his name...but with thirty years of unrecorded Star Wars "history" that shouldn't be too hard to come up with.
So what do you think? Is Supreme Leader Snoke actually going to be Grand Admiral Thrawn?
Sound off in the comments below and don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) for all things rant and ravey.
May the Force be With You.
NOTE: This was written more for fun and I acknowledge that it's not too likely. While it's a valid theory that I hold to, the general film audience won't necessarily know who Thrawn is. The identity of Snoke most likely is someone with a closer tie to the existing eight films.