A popular notion among fans, which has led to a lot of inevitable backlash in the past couple of years, is that Disney didn’t plan the Sequel Trilogy in advance, but it seems that Lucasfilm was thinking of bringing back Palpatine even before the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The Rise of Skywalker, despite backtracking from almost every controversial decision that Rian Johnson made in Episode VIII, proved to be just as divisive as its predecessor, if not more. With J.J. Abrams rushing through the plot and cramming as much exposition as possible into the 142-minute runtime, the Mouse House had to address several narrative elements through tie-in novels, including the resurrection of Darth Sidious and Rey’s lineage as a Palpatine. The former, in particular, managed to draw a lot of heat, since most people assumed that Abrams turned to the Emperor because Johnson had exhausted all other possibilities by killing Snoke off. And it’s safe to say that Kylo has never been a strong or respectable villain.
In Colin Trevorrow’s initial version, Duel of the Fates, there was no trace of Palpatine, and the plot revolved around Rey and Kylo’s clash. It seems, though, that the studio was already thinking of bringing back the Emperor even before the worldwide release of The Last Jedi in November 2017.
This reveal comes courtesy of The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which showcases sketches that feature the fragile body of ‘the Senate’ in his harnesses dating all the way back to late 2017 when the art department started working on the last entry.
As production designer Kevin Jenkins explained on Twitter when asked if it’s true that the art department started working on Episode IX in October 2017:
“At the very beginning of production, I was on my own developing designs for Palpatine’s return. 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,” he wrote.
While bringing back Sidious served as a poetic conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, his return didn’t feel earned on the account of the fact that Star Wars: The Last Jedi hadn’t, in any way, built it up.
Tell us, though, were you glad to have Ian McDiarmid back once more as Sheev Palpatine? Let us know your thoughts in the usual place below.