The saga that George Lucas began with A New Hope in 1977 draws to a conclusion next week, when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker finally hits theaters. J.J. Abrams has already made it clear that the ninth main installment of the franchise will draw the overarching narrative of the franchise to a definitive end, with fans hoping that it can live up to their sky-high expectations and avoid the serious backlash that greeted Rian Johnson’s incredibly divisive The Last Jedi.
After Abrams returned to the fold following the departure of original director Colin Trevorrow, the Bad Robot chief had to rework many major aspects of the story to suit his sensibilities as a filmmaker, as well as continuing some of the major plot threads left unresolved following The Last Jedi. It would be fair to say that The Rise of Skywalker comes burdened with some serious pressure then, especially given the continued behind-the-scenes issues at Lucasfilm.
One of the more contentious aspects of The Rise of Skywalker’s marketing has been the presence of Emperor Palpatine, with many questioning the decision to bring back a villain whose arc was seemingly over and done with. Ever since The Force Awakens, recent Star Wars movies have relied heavily on legacy characters, and in a recent interview, producer Michelle Rejwan explained how bringing back Palpatine came with a certain air of inevitability.
“I think there was a feeling of inevitability that Palpatine had been a part of all three trilogies and in the biggest picture of nine movies, he has been there from the very beginning. And his presence in this movie, we will not spoil that, but when you see it, it does feel to us, not only does it have the feeling of inevitability, but the ending of where we left him last, in Return of the Jedi, was very important to J.J. Abrams, and Chris Terrio, and to all of us. We discussed it at great length… I think it definitely feels as though it is in the DNA of the nine. And it felt appropriate to have his presence in the movie.”
While plot specifics are still tightly under wraps, it’s been reported that George Lucas isn’t too happy about Palpatine’s inclusion in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. While we’ll have to wait until the movie is out in the world before reaching a conclusion, hopefully the creative team have found an organic way to factor him into the story, as opposed to bringing back Star Wars‘ ultimate evil mastermind simply to draw narrative parallels between all three trilogies.