Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer Might Show First Look at Palpatine's Return

The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted on Monday, providing an epic look at the final chapter of the "Skywalker Saga". As fans learned at Star Wars Celebration Chicago earlier this year, Emperor Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) will be playing a unique and previously-unexpected role in the proceedings. While Palpatine's presence in the trailers has largely been through sound bites and narration, the latest trailer appears to show the maniacal villain in the flesh -- at least, somewhat. In one frame of the trailer, Rey (Daisy Ridley) can be seen looking at a hooded figure floating on a throne, who certainly seems to look a lot like Palpatine.

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(Photo: Lucasfilm)

The nature of the villain's return has been a bit of a mystery so far, with some speculating that Doctor Who and The Crown actor Matt Smith could be playing a younger version of the character. McDiarmid himself has played coy about whether or not he would physically appear in the film.

"I was under the assumption that we'd never see him again," McDiarmid teased back in April. "I guess that's how it will remain."

Either way, it certainly seems as if Palpatine's return has been in the cards for quite some time -- making the fact that it's actually happening all the more interesting.

“This has been in the blueprint for a long time,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shared earlier this year. “We had not landed on exactly how we might do that, but yes.”

“Some people feel like we shouldn’t revisit the idea of Palatine, and I completely understand that,” director J.J. Abrams said in a previous interview. “But if you’re looking at the nine films as one story, I don’t know many books where the last few chapters have nothing to do with those that have come before. If you look at the first eight films, all the set-ups of what we’re in IX are there in plain view.”

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20th.