‘Star Wars’ “Low-Key” Confirms Emperor Palpatine’s Live-Action Return

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palpatine telling anakin about darth plagueis

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If there’s one character who has had more control over events in the Star Wars galaxy than any other, it’s Sheev Palpatine. A master of duplicity, Palpatine — who became Sith Lord Darth Sidious — was a power-hungry youth who murdered his own Sith Master, Darth Plagueis.

chancellor palpatine and anakin skywalker in revenge of the sith
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Ever since George Lucas’s original trilogy — Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) — Palpatine has been the driving force behind the Star Wars saga.

From the start, fans knew that Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were deeply entwined with one another, but the prequel trilogy — Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), and Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) — truly solidified the importance of the duo’s relationship within the Star Wars universe.

star wars revenge of the sith obi-wan and anakin on mustafar
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Without Palpatine’s influence, young Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) would likely never have turned to the dark side of the Force, forsaking his training under Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in favor of life as a Sith.

darth vader palpatine
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Now, longtime Palpatine actor, Ian McDiarmid, has low-key confirmed that the Emperor will ultimately return in live-action, despite his seemingly final death on Exegol in the Skywalker Saga conclusion, Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

force healing kylo rey rise of skywalker
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Aided by Ben Solo (Adam Driver) after he eschews life as Kylo Ren, Rey (Daisy Ridley) summons the power of “all the Jedi” to defeat Palpatine and his cult loyalists after using the Sith Wayfinder to finally reach Exegol. While this final battle, that ultimately results in Solo’s death, seems to end Palpatine’s evil reign once and for all, it seems we have perhaps not seen the last of the iconic Star Wars character.

Emperor Palpatine
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In a recent interview:

McDiarmid was careful to leave room in his response for the potential of one day reprising his role as Palpatine:

“I think I have to accept that, thanks to my ungrateful granddaughter [Rey Skywalker], my annihilation was finally final. [But] of course [Darth] Vader is back in the new [Obi-Wan Kenobi] television series, so I suppose it’s not impossible that one day his mentor might be discovered once again skulking in the shadows.”

Could this be Ian McDiarmid’s low-key way of letting Star Wars fans know (without revealing) that Palpatine could make an appearance in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+?

palpatine the phantom menace
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The series is set to follow McGregor’s Kenobi about eight years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), including the execution of Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66.

The show wrapped filming in August 2021 and is set to feature a number of new and returning Star Wars characters, so there is certainly room for McDiarmid to show up.

yoda palpatine duel
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In addition to McGregor and Christensen, Bonnie Piesse and Joel Edgerton are set to reprise their prequel trilogy roles as Luke’s Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen Lars, while newcomers like Moses Ingram, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira VarmaRupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Sung Kang will join the Star Wars story for the first time.

obi wan kenobi full casting
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It has long been known that the Inquisitors will make their live-action debut in Obi-Wan Kenobi, which will be set approximately eight years after the execution of Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66, when Kenobi is living in seclusion on Tatooine — far away from his former Padawan, Vader — looking after young farm boy Luke Skywalker from afar.

Obi-Wan Kenobi will debut on Disney+ on May 25, 2022.

More on Emperor Palpatine

palptine execute order 66 scene
Credit: Lucasfilm

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The official Star Wars Databank describes Palpatine as:

The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural, and Sheev Palpatine is the most infamous follower of its doctrines. Scheming, powerful, and evil to the core, Darth Sidious restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi Order. Living a double life, he was also Palpatine, a Naboo Senator and phantom menace. He manipulated the political system of the Galactic Republic until he was named Supreme Chancellor — and eventually Emperor – and ruled the galaxy through fear and tyranny. The galaxy rejoiced when he died at the Battle of Endor, but Sidious had cheated death and patiently plotted a return to power.

What do you think? Was McDiarmid actually confirming Palpatine’s live-action return?

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