Star Wars Episode 9: Rise of Skywalker sees Emperor Palpatine rise again

"Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design..."

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Sunset Boulevard

Bow before your Emperor!

The biggest villain in Star Wars history is making a comeback. The trailer for Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker, released Friday, ends with the chilling cackle of none other than Emperor Palpatine, rising from the grave to threaten a new generation of heroes.

Watch the Rise of Skywalker trailer here:

The Episode 9 trailer came out at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, and when the lights came back on the audience was stunned to see actor Ian McDiarmid standing on stage. McDiarmid played the evil Palpatine in the original trilogy and the prequels, but hasn't been seen since -- Palpatine was long dead by the time periods portrayed in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.

Or so it seemed...

In the prequels, Palpatine was the ambitious galactic senator who provoked a war and perverted the Galactic Republic. In the original trilogy he had become emperor, ruling the galaxy with an iron fist. We first saw Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back, and in Return of the Jedi he was cast to his death by a repentant Darth Vader. Before his apparent demise, he gloated to Luke Skywalker that "only now, at the end, do you understand..."

Perhaps those words were more appropriate than we knew, as it seems Palpatine is back. We don't know what form he'll take -- will he be flesh and blood, having somehow survived Return of the Jedi? Or will he be a Force ghost like the spectral Jedi who reappear after their deaths?

Judging by his appearance at Star Wars Celebration and the haunting laugh in the trailer, Ian McDiarmid will play a role in Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker, or Episode IX if we're being strictly accurate. McDiarmid joins fellow original trilogy alumnus Billy Dee Williams, who dons the cape of Lando Calrissian for the new film.

Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker comes out in December. In the meantime, look out for more news and trailers coming out of Star Wars Celebration, including a possible first glimpse at Disney Plus TV show The Mandalorian.

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