J.J. Abrams teases Emperor’s role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Emperor Palpatine looms ominously on the new poster for the final Star Wars film

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

Emperor Palpatine will make his dastardly return to Star Wars as the franchise draws to a close – with director J.J. Abrams now teasing that his return may be integral to the film’s ending.

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While we originally thought the evil overlord met his maker in Return of the Jedi, it seems the dearly departed Darth Sidious isn’t so dead and buried after all.

His presence in the final film has been previously hinted at, with a teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker seeing Palpatine, played by Ian McDiarmid, cough out: “Your journey nears its end.”

The newly released poster for the upcoming film also sees his presence looming over a fighting Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

When quizzed on whether the Emperor will return as the franchise’s ultimate villain, a guarded Abrams told MTV News: “Well I will say that’s part of what the story is.

“With the Emperor around, he’s not going to be your cuddly pal. I can’t wait for you to see how that plays out, but he’s in the poster for a reason.”

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

It’s a sentiment which was echoed by Ridley, who called him “the biggest baddie in Star Wars history.”

“Now that we’ve done the story, I’m like, it couldn’t have happened any other way,” she told IGN. “It had to be that. But he’s very instrumental to the plot of the film. It’s not just like he appears again; it’s all explained.”

Of course, Palpatine wouldn’t be the only villain in this piece, with Kylo Ren back to wreak havoc once more.

But Abrams has suggested that even he may not be beyond redemption in the film’s final act.

“I will say that with an actor like Adam Driver you can never limit what that man can do,” he said. “I will say he is mind-blowing in this. He’s brought a whole another level.”

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker slated for UK cinema release on 20th December, 2019.