‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Will Not Explore Snoke’s Past
The quickest way to undermine a villain’s effectiveness and make them less interesting is by explaining their back story; the more mysterious a villain is, the more intimidating and compelling they’re likely to be. And that appears to be the approach Rian Johnson is taking with Star Wars: The Last Jedi — if you were hoping for an explanation of Supreme Leader Snoke’s origins, you won’t find it here.
Lucasfilm recently began the process of slowly pulling back the curtain on The Last Jedi, revealing new character details and sneak peeks, and shedding (a little) additional light on the latest installment in the Star Wars saga. While there’s still plenty of questions left to be answered in the upcoming sequel, at least one will remain a mystery: The origins of Supreme Leader Snoke, the enigmatic villain played by mo-cap master Andy Serkis.
While speaking with Empire, director Rian Johnson says he “wasn’t interested in explaining” where Snoke comes from, and for good reason:
We got the whole story of Palpatine’s rise to power in the prequels, but in the original films he’s exactly what he needs to be, which is just ‘The Emperor.’ He’s a dark force: the scary thing behind the thing. That was entirely how I approached Snoke. I wasn’t interested in explaining where he came from or telling his history, except where it serves this story.
And honestly, he’s right. Look at horror franchises, for instance: Jason, Freddy, Leatherface, Jigsaw — you name it; as the sequels explored their back stories and justified their motives, they all became far less impactful. The boogeyman is scary because we don’t know his motives, who he really is or where he comes from; we fear the unknown. The Wizard of Oz is another example: When the curtain is pulled back to reveal the titular Wizard as nothing more than a normal, human man, his power is lost. He’s no longer awe-inspiring; he’s just some random dude with a cool machine.
We’re always going to want to know where Snoke comes from, but that desire is part of what makes villains like his so effective, and no explanation could come close to being half as satisfying as the numerous possibilities posited by the unknown.
All of which is to say I fully support Rian Johnson’s refusal to explore Snoke’s past. Besides, it’s not as if the new Star Wars films are short on origin stories — we’re witnessing the evil evolution of Kylo Ren, whose deeds could very well cast a long shadow over the universe in future sequels. As for Adam Driver’s brooding villain, Johnson says we’re still watching him become a bad guy:
Star Wars boils down to the transition from adolescence into adulthood. That’s the heart of these films and Rey is most obviously the one that hangs on. But it’s also Kylo. In the originals you project entirely onto Luke, while Vader is the scary other — he’s the minotaur. The fascinating thing about Kylo and Rey is that they’re two sides of something. We can all relate to Kylo: to that anger of being in the turmoil of adolescence and figuring out who he’s going to be as a man; dealing with anger and wanting to separate from his family. He’s not Vader — at least, he’s not Vader yet — and that’s something I really wanted to get into.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.