Palpatine is coming back in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Love or hate the idea, it's happening. The historic Sith leader is even featured on the poster, so fans need to make peace with the idea either way. Director J.J. Abrams is well aware that certain fans think this is perhaps a bad idea, but he's going to do it anyway, and he's got his reasons.
While J.J. Abrams remains secretive as ever, with the release of Episode IX fast approaching, the filmmaker has started to make the press rounds a bit more. During a recent interview, Abrams was asked about Palpatine's return, which was initially revealed at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year. For Abrams, it's about looking at the nine-movie saga as a whole. Here's what he had to say about it.
"Some people feel like we shouldn't revisit the idea of Palpatine, and I completely understand that. But if you're looking at these nine films as one story, I don't know many books where the last few chapters have nothing to do with those that have come before. If you look at the first eight films, all the set-ups of what we're doing in IX are there in plain view."
It's been promised that this movie will conclude the Skywalker saga. Palpatine has been a truly massive part of that saga. So, in that sense, it's easy to see where J.J. Abrams is coming from. It's also been said by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy that bringing the Sith lord back was part of the plan early on, not just something that was tacked onto the story after The Last Jedi.
Outside of one's personal feelings regarding Palpatine's return, the big question comes down to how can he return? Jedi have the ability to return as Force ghosts, yet we've never seen a Dark Side Force ghost, or anything like it in the movies up to this point. Though, there are some things from the Star Wars canon that could come into play here. The Star Wars Rebels episode A World Between Worlds introduced the concept of time travel, in a way, to the canon, and Palpatine even appeared in that episode. Some have theorized this form of Jedi timeline manipulation will come into play. Whatever the case, Abrams seems to think the story calls for it.
Regardless of what legacy characters may or may not appear, this movie has a lot to accomplish. The Last Jedi proved to be divisive and now, Lucasfilm has to try and make a movie that can satisfy both sections of the fanbase; those who liked it and those who didn't. Not to mention bringing more than four decades of storytelling to a satisfying close. To quote the great Han Solo, "Good luck, you're gonna need it." Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20. This news comes to us via Empire