J.J. Abrams Explains The Unexpected Return Of Emperor Palpatine

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When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released four years ago, writer-director J.J. Abrams took some heat for too closely emulating the story and structure of the 1977 original. Thanks to the poster and trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, it’s now apparent that Abrams has revived another element from the original trilogy, namely Emperor Palpatine—and some fans are wondering how this is possible.

After all, this character met his end in Return of the Jedi, and there is no established history of Sith Lords returning from the dead (as Slash Film suggests, you can find a more detailed exploration of this subject at the Star Wars wiki). While it’s far too early to expect a detailed explanation of the logic that drove this choice, Abrams recently offered a relatively sound defense in an interview with Empire.

“Some people feel like we shouldn’t revisit the idea of Palpatine, and I completely understand that,” he explained. “But if you’re looking at these nine films as one story, I don’t know many books where the last few chapters have nothing to do with those that have come before. If you look at the first eight films, all the set-ups of what we’re doing in IX are there in plain view.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theatres on December 20. Check out the teaser below.