Star Wars Episode 9 dropped its very first trailer at the Star Wars Celebration on Friday, April 12. A surprise laugh from the infamous Emperor Palpatine at the end of the trailer gave rise to a host of fan theories. The actor behind the laugh clarified the state of Emperor Palpatine in the aftermath of The Return of the Jedi.
Is Emperor Palpatine actually dead?
Ian McDiarmid, the actor who played Palpatine in four Star Wars movies to date, said the character is officially dead.
At least according to George Lucas, the man behind Star Wars as we know it.
Polygon reported that, during a different panel interview, McDiarmid told fans he only showed up on stage because he “happened to be in the area.”
He added: “So I thought I should just drop in for a laugh.”
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McDiarmid further recalled a conversation he had with George Lucas, imitating Lucas’ part.
He said: “‘Is he…?’ And before I could even finish the sentence, [Lucas replied] ‘Dead, yes.’
“‘Well, couldn’t he perhaps…’ ‘No. He’s dead.’ ‘Well, wouldn’t it be interesting if…?’ ‘Forget it.'”
Though Episodes 7, 8, and 9 do follow Lucas’ original plans, he has no control over the creative direction of the Star Wars franchise.
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Other vehicles of the Star Wars universe have seen Palpatine’s resurrection.
In a 1982 comic series Dark Empire, Palpatine was resurrected via a clone body.
This also ties into a theory which relies on the Star Wars prequel Attack of the Clones.
Palpatine could have retained some clones and be using the technology used to create the Republic’s clone army to house himself inside a clone.
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Another theory relies on his soul attaching itself to a physical object, despite his body perishing with the Death Star.
If he is just a disembodied spirit, still tethered to the world via the Death Star, he could appear in The Rise of Skywalker as a Force Ghost.
Or, as some believe, he could have been using Snoke’s (Andy Serkis) body all along as a vessel.
The theory states Palpatine used Snoke to train Ben Solo (Adam Driver), aka Kylo Ren.
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This would certainly line up with Palpatine’s previous modus operandi in Return of the Jedi.
But in the contemporary trilogy, Palpatine may plan to use Kylo Ren as a vehicle for his own soul, rather than as a fellow Sith Lord as he planned with Luke.
Whether Palpatine will be a force ghost, recording, clone, or corporal human in another body remains to be seen.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out in UK cinemas on December 19, 2019.