One of the biggest surprises in Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi was the way it quickly disposed of Kylo Ren’s dark mentor, First Order Supreme Leader Snoke — not just the swift way in which he was dispatched by his apprentice and the way it brought the young man and his light-side alter-ego Rey together, if briefly, but also the way it happened in a vacuum of any information about his background. Who was Snoke, and where did he come from? What was his place in the larger story?
Rian Johnson wasn’t interested in exploring that story, and the film is probably stronger for it. But while it may seem that Old Man Snoke came out of nowhere, there is definitely a backstory in which he “seduced” young Ben Solo to the dark side of the Force, according to Leia Organa herself in Episode VII — The Force Awakens.
I, personally, feel that Snoke’s history is irrelevant, and that if Kylo Ren’s words about Rey’s parents being “nobodies” is true, there’s a certain symmetry there akin to the balance of the Force itself. But the appearance out of nowhere of a powerful dark side leader has been a rallying cry for those most hypercritical towards the new generation of Star Wars — and it’s a fun point of ridicule against them that the original Star Wars sequel, Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back, did the same thing with regards to the relationship between Anakin Skywalker and the Emperor, something that is taken for granted today.
But just as the relationship between Darth Vader and his mysterious mentor was eventually explored (quite well) in the prequel films with the fall of Anakin, it’s not unreasonable to think that we may see the backstory of Supreme Leader Snoke and Ben Solo, aka Kylo Ren, play out some day. (It could even come as a flashback or Force vision in Episode IX; only time will tell, of course.)
After all, Snoke was portrayed in CGI motion capture by Andy Serkis, and the younger incarnation of the First Order ruler could certainly appear years from now — as could a young, recast Ben Solo, which could be a coveted and career-defining role for a young actor.
It’s also a point of contention right now for many bruised-ego fanboys that Star Wars is swinging too far toward the representation of women that it largely ducked for many years; while this is, itself, a ridiculous complaint, a Ben Solo story would show the male malcontents that the pendulum can, and should, swing both ways — when the story calls for it.
This hypothetical “prequel” could even be animated; who better to reprise the role of a younger Jedi Master Luke Skywalker than Mark Hamill himself, who in the years since the original Star Wars trilogy has become an A-list voiceover artist? And that’s no joke …
But even if they went live action with this second Solo story, Hamill could probably reappear in the younger form we saw during his Force-fueled apparition on Crait at the end of The Last Jedi — which is how Ben Solo remembers him as his teacher in the ways of the Force, before their famous falling out.
Of course, this could all play out in the pages of Star Wars novels or comic books, or even as an interactive video game — but it’s certainly prime material for one of Lucasfilm’s core projects.
George Lucas made the original Star Wars trilogy with the intention, or at least I hope, of going back and filling in the gaps he had left regarding the Clone Wars, the fall of the Jedi and Anakin Skywalker, etc. Who’s to say that even though he sold the franchise, the Lucasfilm Story Group that runs the show now isn’t thinking the same way and playing a long game towards a future standalone “anthology” film? Or even another trilogy, if not an animated or live-action TV or streaming project, that could tell the story behind what everyone is still wondering: who Snoke was, where he came from, and how he got his claws into young Ben Solo?
There are many Star Wars stories left to tell, some of which — like Johnson’s upcoming trilogy — we can’t yet begin to guess at, and others that may end up being more familiar by far … Tell us what you think could (or should) happen!