The Force Awakens left a lot of fans wondering just who exactly this Snoke guy was and what was his connection to the overarching Star Wars saga, making it all the more surprising when the character’s slain by his own apprentice in The Last Jedi before these questions can really be answered.
Given how closely The Force Awakens hews to the narrative arc of the franchise’s first film, it’s highly doubtful that this was the future that J.J. Abrams had in mind for the Supreme Leader when he first brought this mysterious villain to the big screen. So now that the director’s returning to the trilogy with Star Wars: Episode IX, you can imagine that he might be keen to find ways of fleshing out the character further.
While Abrams could perform a cheeky resurrection job on Snoke, the more probable method of bringing back the former head of the First Order is through flashbacks. It’s a possibility that’s backed up by the rumor that actor Ed Harris is being eyed to play the young version of the character, and what’s more, YouTuber Mike Zeroh is now reporting on some concept art that suggests when and where one of Snoke’s scenes could take place.
According to the leaked art description, the crew’s planning for a rear shot of what appears to be Snoke and his eventual killer Kylo Ren looking out of a ship’s window at the construction of the Starkiller Base. This places the image shortly before the events of The Force Awakens, but after Kylo’s turned to the dark side.
For a moment in the timeline so close to the events of the Sequel Trilogy, there would likely be no need to cast a new actor to portray a younger version of the character. This means that if this latest development and the Ed Harris rumor are both legit, then Abrams could be spending multiple scenes building up the backstory to current events in the series.
To speculate further, the director could even be using these flashbacks as an opportunity to retroactively change the saga to something closer to his original vision, before Rian Johnson took the story in some unexpected directions. After all, Mark Hamill’s confirmed to return, so maybe this time he’ll be getting an arc that’s more to the liking of fans who raged against Luke’s depiction in The Last Jedi.
Much of Star Wars: Episode IX remains a mystery for now, but with the flick rumored to have the longest runtime of any Star Wars movie to date, there’ll likely be plenty of room to explore both the past and the present of this ongoing space drama when the film hits theaters on December 20th, 2019.