Star Wars: J.J. Abrams Reveals Why Palpatine Returns for The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will bring the Skywalker Saga to a close when it releases in December. The film, the ninth in the saga, will also bring back Darth Sidious, aka Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine, the original Star Wars big bad. Some fans are skeptical of the decision to resurrect Palpatine. Director JJ Abrams, returning to the franchise after directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, says bringing back Palpatine was a way of tying the entire saga together. “Some people feel like we shouldn’t revisit the idea of Palatine, and I completely understand that,” Abrams says in an interview with Empire Magazine. “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.”

At D23, Lucasfilm revealed a new poster for the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that offered the first look at actor Ian McDiarmid's return as Palpatine. Palpatine's return brings the Skywalker Saga full circle in its final chapter. He was there at the beginning, as the senator representing Naboo in the Galactic Senate during the prequel trilogy. He ruled the Galaxy as the Emperor in the original trilogy. What role he plays in this final chapter remains to be seen.

Abrams's return to direct follows Rian Johnson’s work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Johnson’s film proved divisive because he chose not to take dangling plot threads from The Force Awakens in their most obvious directions, including in regards to the mystery of Rey's parents. Johnson has said that he’s okay with Abrams doing similar things with the story of The Last Jedi, and in fact, kind of hopes he does.

"I've had a couple of conversations with [Abrams] but I've actually really enjoyed sitting back waiting to get my popcorn opening day and see how the thing turns out. I cannot wait," Johnson said at CinemaCon."Like I said, I want to let go of all my expectations, I want to sit back, I want to be entertained. I want to be surprised. I want to be thrilled. I want him to do stuff that I wasn't expecting him to do and just go along for the ride. For me, that's why I go to the movies."

Star Wars: Episode IX stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20th. Other upcoming Star Wars projects include a new film trilogy from Game of Thrones creators DB Weiss and David Benioff, the new trilogy by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnsson, a film by Kevin Feige, the upcoming Disney+ TV series The Mandalorian, as well series focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Cassian Andor