With Star Wars Episode VII still over a year away, and the animated series Star Wars Rebels not premiering until the fall, there have only been a handful of facts officially confirmed about the next stage in the Star Wars franchise. Rumors, however, have been plentiful.

The most persistent rumors surrounding Episode VII involve the film’s villains – which isn’t too surprising considering Star Wars gave us a character who has become arguably the most recognizable film villain of all time: Darth Vader. There are still those insisting Vader will make a reappearance, but beyond a potential flashback that seems unlikely.

When it comes to the animated Rebels series we already know of its villain, the undeniably Sith-like Inquistor, and it’s quite possible this character or others like him will crossover to the film trilogy as well (allowing them a work around to the long-standing “Rule of Two” that governs the Sith). Confirmed cast members Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, and Lupita Nyong’o have all been rumored to be playing villains (either Sith, Sith-serving Jedi hunters, or officers in the crumbling Galactic Empire), and even legendary actor Max Von Sydow’s character is rumored to be some “ancient” evil.

Many have speculated Sydow’s role, if he is indeed a villain, could serve the same function as The Emperor did in the first six Star Wars films – i.e., the evil mastermind pulling strings from behind the scenes. Yet,  Latino Review has gone one step further, claiming that the big bad of the new Star Wars trilogy will actually be Emperor Palpatine.

Palpatine again being revealed as the ultimate evil in the galaxy isn’t exactly a new twist. It’s a story element that has previously been explored in both the novels (ghost-Palpatine) and comics (clone-Palpatine) of the Expanded Universe. And while the EU has been removed from official Star Wars canon, any of those previously used elements could still serve as “inspiration” for the new trilogy. So it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that in either Episode VII or VIII we will see The Emperor again – something LR‘s source says will “100%” happen.

However, Emperor Palpatine appearing in the new trilogy and Palpatine being – again – the final boss are two different claims. There have already been reports of a flashback sequence in which we’ll see Darth Vader recruiting The Inquisitors, and there’s no reason The Emperor couldn’t appear here as well.

Latino Review goes on to saw actor Ian McDiarmid would not be returning, which also suggests an appearance by The Emperor would either be terribly brief, or that it’s completely false. McDiarmid originally played The Emperor in only Return of the Jedi, but later returned to play a younger Palpatine in the prequel trilogy; he was also inserted into The Empire Strikes Back in the Special Editions. Not returning to film a scene or two for the new Star Wars trilogy seems very odd, and any claim that the actor is too old is ridiculous, seeing as McDiarmid is 15 years younger than the already-cast Von Sydow.

Bringing back a character who had been the primary antagonist for the previous six Star Wars films could lend a sense of symmetry to this new Star Wars trilogy, but it would do nothing to prepare the series for future installments. This new trilogy is intended to be a launching pad for a whole new Star Wars media empire, and along with Rebels and the spinoff films, Episode VII will dictate the direction of the franchise. So why saddle yourself with the same old villain? It simply doesn’t make much sense.

What do think are the odds of Emperor Palpatine returning? And if he does, will it be in a brief flashback or will he have been orchestrating our heroes’ misfortune all along? Let us hear your thoughts on this latest rumor in the comments below!

Star Wars Rebels begins with a one-hour special on Disney XD airing October 3rd, 2014 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Star Wars Episode VII will be in theaters on December 18, 2015.

Source: Latino Review