When Star Wars first came roaring back to the forefront of popular culture with The Force Awakens, it looked like Disney and Lucasfilm were trying to hit that sweet spot between nostalgia and callbacks to the Original Trilogy while still telling a standalone story with an all-new set of characters, despite how many of Episode VII’s plot beats felt awfully similar to A New Hope.
A change in director might have been the worst thing to happen to the Sequel Trilogy, then, with Rian Johnson’s decision to make some huge deviations from the established mythology causing The Last Jedi to split opinion right down the middle. In fact, the movie generated so much backlash from the fan community that the studio reportedly panicked and sought to retcon as much as possible after bringing J.J. Abrams back as a safe pair of hands to steer The Rise of Skywalker over the finish line following the departure of Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow.
One of the many major changes made in The Last Jedi that fans didn’t care for was the death of Supreme Leader Snoke, who was killed off without a second thought despite The Force Awakens building him up as the Sequel Trilogy’s major threat. Instead of a fresh villain, Star Wars returned to the Palpatine well yet again, leaving Snoke as an afterthought despite teases of an intriguing history and backstory.
Of course, it turned out Snoke was little more than a puppet for Palpatine, but creature designer Ivan Manzella revealed in a recent interview that his earliest designs for the head of the First Order had the character down as female.
“I think initially when they spoke about her, she was female. Because the first image I did I based on a female, but then that just very quickly went away. So either it was just in passing or something. But I think I just did one image and that was it, and no one else did anymore. I don’t know if anyone did really, then from then on it just became the male.”
Star Wars doesn’t have an extensive back catalogue of female villains, so it would have been interesting if they’d gone through with their original plans for Snoke. Not that it mattered anyway, because despite another mo-cap masterclass from Andy Serkis, it turned out the Supreme Leader was nothing more than a placeholder that was hastily taken off the board to set up Palpatine’s latest comeback.