The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has confirmed that the Emperor will have a physical presence in Episode IX. J.J. Abrams' film is the last entry in the Skywalker Saga, and it certainly looks to be ending the tale in epic fashion.
One of the biggest draws of Star Wars 9 is the return of Emperor Palpatine. Presumed dead after Darth Vader threw him down a Death Star shaft in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine's return - along with that of original actor Ian McDiarmid - was confirmed at Star Wars Celebration 2019 with the most chilling laugh. Since then, there's been a lot of speculation about how the character can be back, whether it's through faking his own death, resurrection or some form of Sith Force Ghost. Although The Rise of Skywalker's final trailer is light on Emperor action, it does provide some insight to this question.
Near the end of the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer, at 1:59, Rey can be seen facing up against the unmistakable hood of Emperor Palpatine. This would seem to confirm he has a physical appearance in the movie, putting paid to the idea that he's just a voice in the movie.
Of course, there's still a lot of mystery around the Emperor's role. Where he and Rey are, for one, is going to be a topic of much debate. An earlier shot in the trailer shows a stone throne surrounded by spikes, reminiscent of Emperor's Throne concept art for Return of the Jedi. The production design would seem to match where Rey is stood, suggesting the scene takes place in the Emperor's base of operations.
The location is also like that where a dark side Rey with a flip-double-bladed lightsaber was seen in the D23 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer. That shot is widely accepted as a dream sequence, which may further suggest that the Emperor's presence here is some sort of mystical trick - or that he's the one behind the vision.
Finally, there's perhaps the least noticeable but seriously important part of the shot: the blocking. The Emperor is positioned well above Rey and moving towards her, making him a more ominous threat. Whether he's hovering a la Yoda in the prequel trilogy or has mechanical legs like Maul when first reintroduced in The Clone Wars, there's clearly something different about the Emperor this time that Abrams and co. are keeping a secret.
Yes, it's fair to say there's still a lot of questions about Emperor Palpatine going into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019