Newly unearthed concept art from The Rise of Skywalker teases a younger Emperor Palpatine. Back when the first trailer for the movie dropped, Star Wars fans were stunned to hear the familiar cackle of Palpatine at the end. While the movie didn't really go into detail about how the iconic villain was able to return, the official novelization, along with the Visual Dictionary painted a more vivid picture about his return and his motives, which was a great help to fans.
As it turns out, Emperor Palpatine was discussed right from the start when J.J. Abrams came on board for what would become The Rise of Skywalker. Production Designer Kevin Jenkins shared his early sketch for Emperor Palpatine's return on social media. "At the very beginning of production, I was on my own developing designs for Palpatine's return," says Jenkins. "Due to secrecy at the time and I was locked away in my own dark office, let out once a week to review designs with JJ. This pencil sketch is from the very first batch."
The Rise of Skywalker concept art of Palpatine is just a pencil sketch, but it provides a very interesting look at the process. The character looks younger than he appeared in the movie, which more than a few Star Wars fans pointed out in the comments section. Kevin Jenkins hinted that was his aim in a response to a fan, which leads one to believe that there was going to be some extra magic to the villain's return. Like a lot of things that were considered, it ended up on the cutting room floor.
Emperor Palpatine was ancient and frail throughout most of the movie, almost looking like his fingers were going to fall off. He gained some power through Rey, but was ultimately destroyed by her Jedi strength. The Rise of Skywalker had some pretty weird elements, though most of the movies contain those elements. Whatever the case may be, seeing the early sketch of Palpatine is an interesting peek into the creative process behind the movie. It must have been extremely difficult to keep the Palpatine secret as even J.J. Abrams was shocked that it didn't leak out beforehand.
J.J. Abrams was left with a near-impossible task of tying up the loose ends of the Skywalker Saga when developing The Rise of Skywalker. While bringing back Palpatine seemed like a good way to bring the story full circle, many fans were not excited to see him back as the puppet master of the whole sequel trilogy. It further confused things and ended up taking up screen time, which could have been devoted to the story arcs of the characters that were first introduced in The Force Awakens, though a lot of fans were pretty happy with the way Abrams brought everything to a close. You can check out the concept art above, thanks to Kevin Jenkins' Twitter account.