Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases in December and, as is often the case regarding any blockbuster of this sheer size and magnitude, the internet is currently awash with rumours about what will happen. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have so far presented to audiences the tales of Rey, Kylo Ren and co doing battle for the Resistance and the First Order but, with Emperor Palpatine poised to return in some way, things could be about to get a much-needed shake-up.
We now look through the rumour mill and judge what we think we may be true, and what’s a load of Bantha Fodder, ahead of the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
To say that The Last Jedi was a divisive movie is putting it mildly, with fans still disgruntled at the way Rian Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy and the rest of Disney and Lucasfilm handed the blockbuster when it hit screens back in December 2017. One of the reasons for that was the revelation that, despite Rey being extremely powerful with the force despite never having much training, she wasn’t related to anybody gifted. Instead, the Jakku scavenger was told by Kylo Ren that she’s a ‘nobody’.
This was a slap in the face. People had spent the previous two years devising theories galore, suggesting she could be a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi or even a Palpatine. And with fans eager to see that change we expect JJ Abrams will give a far more satisfying conclusion to what, so far, has been the biggest mystery of the sequel trilogy. After all, why else would she be so strong?
The Rise of Skywalker is going to introduce us to several new characters and among them is Jannah, who will be played by Naomi Ackie. Disney’s sequel trilogy has learnt first-hand that you can’t introduce a new character without fans expecting them to be related to somebody we’ve seen before and we think the theory that she may be related to loveable rogue Lando Calrissian may just end up ringing true.
There’s several things that suggest this. Lando is Lando, he’s a charmer and scoundrel, meaning he was certainly popular with the ladies (and apparently droids) around the galaxy. Janna is seen sporting a cape and quirky attire the former Cloud City kingpin would be proud of and Ackie allowed herself a big smile when the question was put to her at Star Wars celebration in April. If Han Solo ended up becoming a parent, maybe his old partner in crime did too.
The Rise of Skywalker is actually the final movie in the Skywalker saga, despite it’s misnomer of a title. And with Darth Vader being the most prominent member of the galaxy’s biggest family, talk has been rife that the former Sith Lord will make a stunning on-screen return. If Palpatine’s back in some way or another, why can’t Vader return?
And while we like the idea, it makes no sense. Vader’s death in Return of the Jedi came at the perfect moment and in the most ideal of circumstances: the villain of the franchise turned hero at great personal cost, murdering Palpatine (or so we thought) and then dying shortly afterwards. To bring him back in the flesh would take away from his sacrifice and also remove the emotional element of his passing all those years ago.
While we’ve ruled out Vader returning physically, we’re definitely onboard with the prospect of Darth Vader returning as a force ghost in The Rise of Skywalker. There were plans for the character to return as a force ghost in The Force Awakens as a hydrid Vader-Anakin being but they were scrapped, with JJ Abrams choosing to overlook the character completely.
However, what with this being the final chapter of the Skywalker saga, it would make perfect sense for him to return. Luke Skywalker may need guidance, what with living among the land of the dead, and Rey is surely in need of assistance as she helps about bringing down both Darth Vader and Palpatine. Throw in the fact that Kylo Ren is obsessed with his grandfather and we can’t see any way Star Wars’ biggest villain won’t return for the final outing of the franchise.
Star Wars has always focused on the need for the poetic. And with Darth Vader changing sides back in Return of the Jedi, a similar fate may await the character of Kylo Ren who, despite last being seen consolidating his control of the First Order, has shown himself particularly vulnerable to both sides of the force so far.
There have been various hints about Kylo’s allegiance throughout both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Young Ben Solo is conflicted, stopping short of murdering his mother but also ensuring father Han Solo bite the dust. He looked set to side with Rey after murdering Supreme Leader Snoke but, once again, he chose to stay in the darkness. With Palpatine returning, however, he may need some assistance if he is to take down the biggest bad guy in Star Wars history. And that may mean him following in Vader’s footsteps by changing allegiances and fighting alongside Rey.
In many fans’ opinions, the portrayal of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker was off in The Last Jedi. His character had none of the warmth or charm of the original trilogy and he made some questionable decisions, such as trying to kill a young Ben Solo, refusing to help his friends in their hour of need and even fighting Rey on the planet of Ac’To.
Luke died at the end of The Last Jedi and there have been rumours that he will return in order to have one final showdown with Palpatine. But we can’t see this happening for two reasons: one is that it would take away from Luke’s magical sacrifice at the end of Return of the Jedi, where his death allowed the remaining members of the Resistance to get away to safety and continue the fight. And secondly, with Palpatine himself returning, that will be too much retconning in one movie. We expect Hamill’s character to return - but only as a force ghost.
We know that Palpatine is coming back. His distinctive laugh heard in The Rise of Skywalker trailer - coupled with Ian McDiramid’s appearance at Star Wars Celebration - is proof of that alone. However, while some people have suggested he found a way to survive his throw down the Death Star via Darth Vader, it’s far more likely he will find a way to return via a different way.
And whispers have suggested that Palpatine may have found a way to cling to life via the spiritual world. It seems feasible that he will take over the body of a younger force user, who may or not be portrayed by Matt Smith. There’s no chance Palpatine would have found a way to survive his fall down the Death Star chute and inhabiting another host seems the only logical explanation for his return. There’s even talk he may try and take over Kylo Ren which, given he’s the final member of the Skywalker family that Palpatine has torn apart for years, makes sense.
It was just two years ago when Star Wars fans were besotted by the idea of Supreme Leader Snoke being a version, or perhaps transformation, of a character we’d seen before. He seemed strong with the dark side, even managing to confront both Kylo Ren and Rey with relative ease, before being mercilessly slaughtered by his apprentice during The Last Jedi.
Since then, it’s been suggested that Snoke was perhaps Palpatine, a host the Sith icon inhabited. But we can’t see this happening. While we expect The Rise of Skywalker to fill out certain parts of the mysterious character’s backstory, it seems unfeasible that he was the former Emperor all along. Namely because no chance would Palpatine allow himself to be so easily tricked by an apprentice, not when he was able to keep Darth Vader in line for so many years...
Star Wars fans were certainly excited when, in July, the Sith Troopers were showed off for the first-ever time. With their red armour and distinctive look, they immediately set online tongues wagging and many speculated them to potentially be Kylo Ren’s own private guard. However, since then, a new rumour has emerged.
The said rumour claims that they answer to Palpatine, and Palpatine only. They will be big players behind his return and have ships that have super-powerful weapons akin to a Death Star. Given their name, this just might be true. Kylo showed during The Last Jedi that he wanted everything to end, including the Sith, which means it’s unlikely he’ll be embracing them. They serve as another obstacle to him rising to power and an alliance just doesn’t look to be on the cards.
Time travel is back in fashion, with the MCU successfully using it to give fans a sublime blockbuster in the form of Avengers: Endgame. And there’s talk Star Wars will go down a similar route, with theorists suggesting Rey will find a way to undo the past and bring the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and even Anakin Skywalker back to the land of the living.
But this...seems far-fetched. While Disney are under pressure to get the latest Star Wars movie right, what with The Last Jedi being so divisive and Solo: A Star Wars story failing to scale any heights at the box office, we can’t see them resorting to something that worked for another blockbuster they own. It would also be an incredibly controversial move and, given how split fans are, taking risks is the last thing the franchise needs...