It's been less than a month since Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrived in theaters, and the generations of fans are still reeling all the twists and turns. Director Rian Johnson crafted a mold breaking installment that subverted almost all of the fans' expectations, which has been met with equal parts criticism and acclaim. One of the most divisive aspects of The Last Jedi was the handling of Andy Serkis' villainous Supreme Leader Snoke. After two years of debating who Snoke might be, he was unceremoniously killed off without providing the audience with any exposition about his origin or identity. But Johnson recently revealed why he made this controversial choice.
Rian Johnson and the cast of The Last Jedi recently did a Q&A for BAFTA, exploring the themes and contents of the film now that it's been out for a few weeks. Regarding Snoke's lack of exposition, Johnson explained his choice, saying:
In this particular story, it's much more like the original trilogy, where with Snoke if you think about the actual scenes, if suddenly I had paused one of the scenes to give a 30 second monologue about who he was, it would have kind of stopped the scene in its tracks, I realized. Even though it could have been interesting, something that fans were interested in, as storytellers, we have to kind of serve what the scenes need to be. It was a tough thing, even though I knew some fans were interested in it I also knew it wasn't something that dramatically had a place in this movie. Hopefully it can be addressed elsewhere or even J.J. may address it in the next movie. But it's not something that's particularly interesting to Rey, so we kind of had to follow through.
The director does make a fair point. The Last Jedi is already the longest installment in the entire Star Wars franchise. As such, there was a ton of of ground to cover, especially after bringing Luke Skywalker back into the main narrative and introducing a handful of new characters and settings. While Snoke was a menacing villain that provided development for Kylo Ren's character, he wasn't not a focus of the film. As such, adding an extra scene so that we'd get background on Snoke before he was promptly killed off would be a waste of time. After all, the final film was a bit bloated as it was. Rian Johnson previously cited the handling of Palpatine in the original trilogy as a reference; we knew nothing about the character until he was eventually expanded in the prequels. And that didn't seem to bother fans in the slightest.
That said, Rian Johnsons seems to encourage Snoke's backstory being addressed in a future film. J.J. Abrams could always do this with his untitled Episode IX. In fact, he even seemed into Snoke getting a spinoff, when actor Andy Serkis joked about the possibility in the cast's Q&A.