The latest poster for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may hold a major clue explaining the Emperor's resurrection. Lucasfilm released a stunning new poster for Star Wars 9 at the D23 fan expo; where most Star Wars posters are a montage of different heads, this one was a suspenseful image of a dueling Rey and Kylo Ren overshadowed by the Emperor's visage.
This is actually the first official look viewers have had of the Emperor in the Sequel Trilogy; while Palpatine's voice has been heard in the trailers, his face has yet to be seen. Attention initially focused on the fact the Emperor's face is a little cartoonish, an unusual artistic choice some have suggested hints he lacks a corporeal form. Hilariously, it turned out the image wasn't based on Ian McDiarmid at all; it was adapted from a Facebook post advertising a Hot Toys Palpatine action figure. But, in all the excitement over the Emperor's face, one important detail has been missed.
The center of the poster is a dazzling flare of blue light, with Rey stood at one side of the energy burst and Kylo Ren at the other, and with streams of blue fire heading up towards the Emperor's face. It's a very familiar effect, eerily reminiscent of the blast of Force energy released when Palpatine apparently died in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Meanwhile, the battle between Kylo Ren and Rey is presumably happening atop a chunk of Death Star wreckage, as shown in the latest Star Wars 9 trailer. That suggests the similarity is no coincidence, and the two energy releases are somehow connected.
Lucasfilm has confirmed they had a lot more of the Sequel Trilogy originally planned out than many viewers believed - and they'd always intended to bring Palpatine back. "This has been in the blueprint for a long time, yeah," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained. "We had not landed on exactly how we might do that, but yes, it was always [to be in Episode IX]." Given that's the case, it's important to note the Star Wars franchise has seen two similar blue energy flares over the last few years, which could conceivably be connected to this somehow. The first involved a Sith cultist, Yupe Tashu, who died in an almost identical fashion to the Emperor in Chuck Wendig's novel Aftermath: Empire's End; he was betrayed while conducting a mysterious ritual he seemed to believe was tied to Palpatine's anticipated return. The second, equally mysterious, was in Star Wars Rebels; there, Ezra gained access to a mysterious realm called the World Between Worlds, that could be used to transcend time and space. The Emperor was eager to access the World Between Worlds, but was blocked from doing so.
At this stage, it's impossible to say what the blue flare of light really means; it could be connected to the World Between Worlds, but it could also be linked to Nightsister magic, which the Emperor trained in. Whatever the truth may be, though, that mysterious burst of energy seems to link the Emperor's death with his return - and that means it's probably important.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019