SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Maybe read something else if you haven’t already seen the movie.
We have lots of questions about all of the new characters we met in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but perhaps none are left quite as shadowy as the new big bad, Supreme Leader Snoke. Rey’s past is shrouded in secrecy, but at least we get to know her on some level, whereas all we really know about Snoke is that he’s big (at least his hologram is), he’s ugly, and he’s evil as shit and strong with the Force, luring unsuspecting young Ben Solo to the Dark Side. Okay, he probably suspected.
As we’ve all watched The Force Awakens a couple of times, however, we’ve become fascinated by Snoke, and a number of theories have sprung up about him. One supposed he is Darth Plageuis, though Andy Serkis, who performs Snoke in motion capture, put the kibosh on that. Another proposes he could be Darth Vader, using images of the characters as evidence, though it’s a bit of a reach and, from early on, Serkis and others have said Snoke is an entirely new character. The latest theory making the rounds around our office wonders if perhaps Snoke is actually a Force ghost.
Right out of the gate I want to get out of the way the fact that I don’t particularly buy this, in part because there’s not enough information to really go on, but it’s an interesting theory of which to explore and root around in. I’m also not going to pretend to have a definitive answer.
Force ghosts are pretty much exactly what they sound like, the soul or essence of a Force user that comes back to hang out and interact with the living. We primarily associate it with Jedi, like Yoda and Obi-Wan, but Sith have been able to use similar techniques, we just don’t see it as often. According to Wookieepedia, while these manifestations aren’t usually able to interact physically with the world around them, some, especially the Sith, have been able to pull that off.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we never see Snoke in the flesh. He only appears as a hologram to Kylo Ren and General Hux on Starkiller Base—when the base crumbles, we see chunks fall through the projected image. We don’t even know for sure if he’s actually as large as he appears or if that’s just another way to make himself more imposing and strike fear into the hearts of his underlings.
This raises an interesting question: could you make a hologram of a Force ghost? Perhaps if there is a physical presence of some kind, this could happen. It’s been said that Snoke is extremely powerful—people thought he was Darth Plageuis, who grew so strong he could control death, which is no small feat—and perhaps this power can transcend the mortal realm to a degree and he can perform feats that others up to this point have not been able to achieve. Then again, do you even need a physical presence to make a hologram? Could you, say, film a Force ghost?
There are some forums out there where users have noted the similarities in appearance between holograms and Force ghosts, specifically the translucent nature of both and comparable color schemes. Some suggest that holograms came about as an attempt to mimic the way Force ghosts can communicate across great distances, so perhaps the two tap into the same energy, or whatever you want to call it, in the galaxy. And again, maybe Snoke has the strength to do things other can’t.
Another question I have about the possibility of Supreme Leader Snoke being a Force ghost is whether or not the non-Force sensitive out there would be able to see him. It makes sense that Kylo Ren can see him, as he’s attuned to this sort of thing, but he also appears to General Hux—including moments where only Hux is there—who, as far as I can tell, exhibits no aptitude at all when it comes to the Force.
From what I can find, this appears to be another point of some debate, whether or not non-Force sensitive folks can see Force ghosts. At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke can see the gathering of dead Jedi, while his sister, Leia, doesn’t appear to be able to. Though she’s not trained, she does is gifted with the Force, and it’s possible that she could learn or be trained to see them. Then there are those who claim Force ghosts can pick and choose to whom they reveal themselves. If this is the case, then Snoke could elect to show himself to General Hux if it was necessary.
Though, along these lines, if Snoke is a Force ghost, and if he can appear as a hologram, it would make sense that the non-Forcies in the audience would be able to see the hologram who might not have been able to see him otherwise. That’s a lot of ifs.
From what we know, Force ghosts don’t necessarily exists in a specific place, they are, like the Force itself, just kind of out there, flowing through the universe and whatnot. That said, Snoke does order his underlings to come to him, and the implication is that he is actually in some physical location. Whether it be a planet, a base, a Star Destroyer, or some other space jalopy, he is somewhere. Again, perhaps because of his power he was able to transcend death and somehow create a physical form (maybe Darth Plageuis was a mentor and taught him a few tricks), but that’s a big leap.
Like I said at the outset, this is an off the wall theory to be sure, and one that, the more I think about, the less inclined I am to believe. But there are some crazy ass ideas about Star Wars: The Force Awakens floating around, so what the hell. I guess it’s possible. Perhaps some of you out there are more knowledgeable on this matter than I am and can set me straight. Is this something you think could happen? Or do you think that Supreme Leader Snoke is a flesh-and-bone living being like I do? Wherever you fall, we’ve got some time to fill until the next Star Wars movie, so sound off in the comments below.