Even before we got to see the film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker already caused a lot of controversy and discussion amongst fans due to the decision to resurrect Emperor Palpatine, something that was clear from the first trailer. Bringing the villain back for the final chapter in the Skywalker saga is either a brilliant way to link Episode IX in with the previous trilogies or a shameless attempt to shoe-horn in some fan service, depending on your view.
Whatever your opinion, it does seem to be the case that Palpatine’s return came from studio bosses rather than the filmmakers themselves. While speaking with Awards Daily, co-writer Chris Terrio alluded to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and producer Michelle Rejwan having a “clear plan” that involved Darth Sidious returning from the dead. From a story point of view, the necessity of Palpatine’s inclusion came about due to Kylo Ren’s arc.
“Kathy Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan had a clear plan for where they wanted things to end. They had clear plans about certain narrative marks they wanted us to hit. They also gave us a lot of freedom within that. We knew that Rey and Ren were utterly key to this trilogy, but we also felt that there was no way that we were going to not find a path to redemption for Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia. We felt that right from the beginning, when [director/co-writer] J.J. [Abrams] established Kylo Ren in Episode VII, there was a war going on inside him and that he had been corrupted by something bigger than himself and had made bad choices along the way. J.J. and I felt we needed to find a way in which he could be redeemed, and that gets tricky at the end of Episode VIII because Snoke is gone.”
Terrio continued to explain that the narrative needed an even bigger antagonist than Kylo to allow for his redemption, as well as talking about their re-conception of Palpatine for this movie.
“The biggest bad guy in the galaxy at that moment seemingly is Kylo Ren. There needed to be an antagonist that the good guys could be fighting, and that’s when we really tried to laser in on who had been the great source of evil behind all of this for so long. That’s when we really started aggressively pursuing this idea that there is old evil that didn’t die. The source of the evil in the galaxy is this dark spirit waiting for its revenge and biding its time. The entity known as Palpatine in this version – his body died in [Star Wars:] Return of the Jedi – is patient and has been waiting. He dug his fox hole and has been waiting for his chance to re-establish his total domination.”
It makes sense that Kennedy would have some clear ideas about what she hoped director J.J. Abrams and Terrio would do in Rise, considering that the studio’s previous partnership with Colin Trevorrow on Episode IX fell through due to creative differences. So, naturally Kennedy would be upfront about what she wanted from the story when bringing Abrams and Terrio aboard.
Tell us, though, was bringing Palpatine back for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the right move? Discuss your thoughts in the comments section down below.