The return of Palpatine in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is one of the most controversial elements of what’s an all-round controversial movie. It’s hard to know where the concept of bringing Darth Sidious back from the dead came from, but fans tend to blame Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams or writer Chris Terrio. It’s worth wondering, though, whether the idea actually came from George Lucas.
Abrams has said in the past that he consulted with Lucas and picked his brain for ideas on how to conclude the Skywalker saga in the best way possible. We don’t know what exactly the fruits of their conversations were, but could Palpatine’s resurrection have been one of them? Perhaps, as Games Radar has got some evidence which could possibly suggest so.
As fans may know, 90s EU comic book series Dark Empire reveals the Emperor survived Return of the Jedi. In an interview with Underground Online, writer Tom Veitch explained that he initially pitched Vader’s comeback in the book, but it was Lucas himself who came up with the notion of bringing Palpatine back instead.
“George Lucas told me personally that he loved it,” Veitch revealed “Some people had a problem with the bringing back of the Emperor. But as I have explained elsewhere, we did that under George Lucas’ direction. Originally we asked him if we could bring back Darth Vader, assuming that the Empire would want to perpetuate the image of Vader in order to strike fear into the hearts of billions. So they would put somebody else inside the Vader costume, of course. But George nixed that and told us we could bring back the Emperor.”
Dark Empire was always a clear influence on TROS, as it set the precedent for reviving Palpatine, so the revelation that Lucas is responsible for that in the comic is a big one. Even if Lucas didn’t suggest the idea to Abrams himself, if the filmmakers got it from the comics, then that means that the germ of the idea to reverse the villain’s death does come from Lucas, after all.
This isn’t a cast-iron chain of logic, it has to be said, as Ian McDiarmid has stated that Lucas directly told him the Emperor died in Return and that was it. This uncovered quote, though, does suggest that his controversial comeback in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could be followed all the way back to the saga’s creator.