Emperor Palpatine’s ‘surprise’ Star Wars return was always “in the blueprint”

According to LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, Darth Sidious’s big comeback has been in the works for a long time

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith
starring Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (LucasFilm, Sky)

The apparent return of Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) was a big shocker at the end of Star Wars Episode IX’s first trailer, capping the very first look at The Rise of Skywalker with the Sith Lord’s distinctive cackle.

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Fans, understandably, were blown away by the big reveal – but according to LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy the character’s comeback has been on the cards for a long while, with Kennedy even hinting that he was blocked in when the team were working on 2015’s The Force Awakens.

“This has been in the blueprint for a long time,” Kennedy told Yahoo! Entertainment.

“Yeah, we had not landed on exactly how we might do that, but yes, it’s always [been in the plan for Episode IX],” she said.

Just exactly how McDiarmid’s Emperor will return is a bit of a mystery – last time we saw him he was plunging down one of the Empire’s handy “fall to your death dramatically” shafts, force lightnings coming from his fingertips – but if Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker can return from the dead for Episode IX, who’s to say the most powerful Sith Lord in history couldn’t do the same?

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in December 2019