The first trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX (or as we’re now calling it, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) is finally here, and predictably enough, the footage teases the return of all the characters you’d expect, while revealing very little in the way of plot.
That being said, the preview does have one bombshell saved for its final seconds. Right after Luke Skywalker delivers the seemingly optimistic line, “No one’s ever really gone,” the screen cuts to black, and the trailer proves him right in surprisingly dark fashion. In a moment that’s sure to inspire countless theories, the unmistakable sound is heard of Emperor Palpatine laughing.
When it was first announced that Ian McDiarmid was attending Star Wars Celebration, some fans took it as a sign that old Sheev might return to the series, but this recent confirmation still comes as a bit of a shock. Right now, we have virtually no idea how the saga’s oldest villain could be back, but one clue might come in an ominous statement made by director J.J. Abrams at today’s panel:
“This movie is about the new generation and what they’ve inherited the light and the dark and asking the questions as they face the greatest evil, ‘Are they ready?’”
Could Palpatine be the “greatest evil” he’s referring to? We certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
Another thing of note about this quote is how well it ties in with one of the main themes of Abrams’ The Force Awakens. As you may recall, the 2015 film saw “the light and the dark” pass on to a new generation of heroes and villains, who were burdened with the pressure of living up to their predecessors. This theme was most explicit in Kylo Ren’s idolization of Darth Vader, but it also applied more broadly in the way the story mirrored A New Hope.
Now it seems that these youngsters are being put to the test, and might even have to face the main big bad of the entire franchise. But whatever evil’s coming their way, we’ll find out if they’re ready when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th, 2019.