Supreme Leader Snoke, the man (?), the myth, the motion capture character played by the best in the business Andy Serkis. We have seen concept art of Maz, a stolen shot of Luke, but nothing has been seen of Snoke. JJ and Lucasfilm are keeping him under wraps for now only releasing his name and the sound of his voice. So what can we expect from this new villain?
First let us discuss his look. We know he’s motion capture so his face could not be created without CGI. Does this mean he’s anything but human? Not necessarily, the expressiveness needed for the character could have been limited by make up or prosthetics. The old empire had implied racism through the lack of alien characters though it was never explicitly said in any movie which would make it odd if the Supreme Leader was anything other than alien. We also have two descriptions of concept art from two very good sources StarWarsUnsderworld.com and MakingStarwars.com . From SWU we have a description of Snoke as an old zombie like person, as though he has risen from the dead. The problem I have with this description is I think walking dead and plenty of other of zombie movies have shown the make up for this type of look could be done without CGI or mo-cap. Then again this could just be their best approximation to describe the look. Next up from MSW we have a concept description that says Snoke has a snake like head and eyes and is wearing a black kimono with off white robe underneath including waist dress that looks like mummy wrappings. Now this is a concept that would require Mo-cap and CGI to work. Although we have the former implication of a racist Empire, the First Order may no longer hold these views. I suspect that neither was the final concept (MSW believes this too based on his comments) and we will instead see a combination of the two. Human looking but you can’t quite tell if he is, decrepit looking old and stretched thin by age or some sort of corruption from within. I imagine him almost looking like Voldermort with more hollowed out looks and a wider flatter face.
Now let us try to break down what Snoke’s role in these movies will be. We know he will be force sensitive based on both his lines in first teaser and Serkis comments on his character preferring a lightsaber. Next we have his name Supreme Leader Snoke, this implies much more than being Kylo Ren’s master or fellow Knight of Ren. We have multiple leaks that have Kylo, Hux and Phasma taking orders from Snoke. So between his name, the confirmed information and the leaks it is fair to assume he is the Leader of the First Order and a Dark side user. But how much of him will we see? I suspect he will be shown like Sidious was in TPM, three to four times and only “in person” once perhaps twice as part of the crew that attacks Luke’s Jedi academy. George Lucas commented in the TPM DVD Director’s commentary that he put Sidious “in person” for that one shot to let the audience know that he wasn’t just a ghost or hologram, but an actual person, and the same could be true of how Snoke is approached.
Finally where does he come from? This is the most difficult one to answer as the lack of info available pretty much leaves this up to pure speculation. He could be a former Inquisitor but I think this is unlikely as I believe they will be wiped out by the time ANH starts either by Vader or the Emperor himself as tools that were no longer useful. One of the more popular theories has been that Snoke is Darth Plagueis, however JJ did say in response to a question about Plagueis “I don’t think we want to be talking story too much too soon, but I will say: No” . There has been some speculation that he was only referring to the staff or merely saying he won’t be mentioned and it does seem awkward on stage when it is bought up at SDCC however my gut says no as do those with legitimate sources and of course there is one little problem of him being dead. While many people say Plagueis could cheat death what we actually know is he was able to keep others from dying. The last is he is the leader of Knights of Ren or at least has been using them to his advantage however if this is true his beginnings are linked to where ever they came from… so completely mysterious and this is the one I am betting on.