By now any Star Wars nerd worth their salt knows about the ominous laugh at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer. The laugh is an ill omen, a portent foretelling the return of Emperor Palpatine. Some fans are excited about the return of the villain of both the previous sequels. Some aren’t so thrilled. Is this a legitimate end to the Star Wars saga or merely a cash-grab to put butts in seats? Does this bank on nostalgia to sell tickets or has Palpatine played a role since The Force Awakens? Either way, it’s clear that the return of Darth Sidious will be yet another point of contention between fans.
There are lots of fan theories as to what that laugh means. Everything from Death Star wreckage-haunting force ghost to Palpatine’s clone to an inconsequential recording. All of which rankles some fans in the worst way.
Some feel it devalues the sacrifice of Darth Vader. Some feel it cheapens the entirety of the saga, even if it’s just his recording, to give him any kind of power after his death. Some fans feel that it opens the door to retcon Luke’s death at the end of The Last Jedi, allowing him to come back to finish off the Emperor himself, given his “no one’s ever really gone” line in the trailer.
There are fans who feel that bringing Palpatine back is only cashing in on nostalgia. They believe Disney knows that bringing in characters from the original trilogy will bring in people regardless of if the movie is any good. Letting Luke speak in the trailer, showing Lando in the Falcon, and hearing Palpatine laugh, are all small parts of the movie that will leave fans feeling cheated.
Another sect of fans argues over whether it will be Rey or Kylo that gets to end Palpatine for good. Giving Kylo the end of his redemption arc by killing off his grandfather’s master seems an obvious choice. But of course, there’s Rey, who the new trilogy is centered around. There are those who firmly believe that Disney will let Rey kill Palpatine in some sort of misguided plan to let her have all the glory and victory.
Of course, no one really knows how it will be handled. Some fans could be correct, or JJ Abrams could surprise everyone and take it in a completely different direction that no one saw coming. Either way, bringing Palpatine back in any way, shape or form is sure to be one more thing that divides the Star Wars fandom.
If Luke returns as a force ghost as the trailer alludes to, it could mean redemption for the Master Jedi. Kylo seeks out a strong calling from his grandfather’s master, with promises similar to that which turned Darth Vader to the dark side. If Luke could save Kylo from Palpatine, it could mean the beginning of reconciliation between nephew and uncle.
But it’s all just speculation until the movie releases.
What do you think? Is bringing back Palpatine good for the story and for ticket sales? Or is it a cheap shot at cashing in before retiring the Star Wars movies for a while?
Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!