All stories need an antagonist. An evil character to inspire hate and fear in the hearts of audiences. The Star Wars franchise has seen many such evil characters.
At this point there are more than eleven live action films, and that doesn’t include any series based in the Star Wars universe. All of these installments have seen their own enemies, their own evil antagonists fighting the Jedi. But one enemy looms large through all the Star Wars installments. It’s not a character, per se. The Empire and its oppressive government is the heart of the conflict in Star Wars. And there’s one character who represents the Empire better than any other: it’s founder, Emperor Palpatine.
Palpatine returned at the end of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’
Palpatine has been the enemy of the Skywalkers for as long as fans have known the Star Wars universe. The prequels reveal that Palpatine manipulated Anakin Skywalker to the dark side, where he would become Darth Vader. In the original trilogy, Darth Vader is positioned as the evil leader of the Empire in A New Hope. However, The Empire Strikes Back reveals that Vader is serving an even more evil overlord, The Sith, or Emperor Palpatine. The Return of the Jedi brings vindication to Darth Vader’s character, when he pushes Palpatine to his supposed death.
But Palpatine wasn’t dead, a fact fans don’t learn until The Rise of Skywalker. The latest Star Wars feature reveals that Palpatine didn’t die, and is still manipulating the Skywalkers. Ben Solo and Rey follow in Darth Vader’s footsteps, destroying Palpatine, at least for now.
Fan think that Palpatine’s return was inevitable
Some fans were surprised to learn that Palpatine survived. But not all of them. Fans on reddit discussing the former Chancellor Palpatine admitted that they weren’t shocked when he came back. As one fan wrote, “I always thought Palpatine was behind the First Order because why would he create a contingency that would see the Empire live on after his death. No, Palpatine never does something for anyone else. Palpatine wishes for only tp see himself to rule the galaxy and no one else.”
Other fans knew how he survived thanks to the novelization of the movie. According to one fan, The Rise of Skywalker should have done a better job filling in the gaps for fans. “I honestly think it makes sense that Palpatine would survive beyond Return of The Jedi, although I do wonder if they should have made it more clear on screen how he survived instead of leaving it to the novelization.”
Will Palpatine be back again to ‘Star Wars’?
There’s no doubt fans will see Palpatine again in some capacity. Although he seemed to die again at the end of Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine could come back in future sagas. But Disney is taking a broader approach to the Star Wars franchise. They’ve been making movies and shows that fall outside the timeline of the current trilogy, such as Rogue One and Solo. The spinoffs go backwards in time, exploring events that went unseen in the movies.
A younger Palpatine could well return in one of these spinoffs. Disney’s latest Star Wars endeavor, a show about Obi Wan Kenobi titled Obi Wan Kenobi, may very well include a young Palpatine. The timing would be right. Palpatine and Obi Wan knew each other before Obi Wan met Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine. The show may include snippets of their time together, or appearances by Palpatine before he let the dark side take him over completely.
Palpatine may even be the subject of a future spinoff. Disney is making television shows and movies about all the important Star Wars characters, and a look at how the evil emperor came to be evil would be a great premise.