The first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker included a surprising reveal at the end—the laugh of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Palpatine was actually the Sith Lord Darth Sidious and pulled the strings in the prequel trilogy to rise to Emperor. He was thought dead at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader threw him down a pit on the second Death Star and then the second Death Star blew up. He might still be dead—the laugh could be from a clone or a ghost—but ScreenRant reports that it was always the plan to bring Palpatine back:
“This had been in the blueprint for a long time. We had not landed on exactly how we might do that, but yes [it was always in Episode 9],” said producer Kathleen Kennedy.
Palpatine is kind of weird character in the Star Wars universe. In the prequel trilogy, he’s very well played by McDiarmid and provides some bright spots in those dim movies. But is he an interesting character? That’s debatable.
I would say what Palpatine brings to the table is that he’s an evil guy, and that he represents how there will always be evil in the world. The test comes when good people come to meet that evil and the question of how will different generations fare? But bringing back Palpatine specifically drains the uniqueness from the situation. The evil you face is the same evil your parents faced. It seems a bit reductive and leans heavily on nostalgia.
Again, we have no idea how Palpatine specifically factors into the story, but it is surprising that they’ve wanted to use him since the beginning of this new trilogy. I’m genuinely curious to see if we’ve missed any clues to Palpatine’s existence along the way or if they’ll try to retcon him in to the ninth chapter so that he was behind the Knights of Ren or something.
For more on The Rise of Skywalker, peruse our recent articles below:
- ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: What Does the Return of Palpatine Mean?
- ‘Star Wars’ Behind-the-Scenes Featurette Teases Past, Present, and Future
- ‘Star Wars 9’: Is the New Generation Ready to Face the Greatest Evil?
- ‘Star Wars 9’ Title Explained: What Does “The Rise of Skywalker” Mean?