Following the release of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," the film was met with a wide variety of criticism. Some felt like their favorite characters didn’t get enough development or screen time. Many were frustrated by the lack of cohesion throughout the sequel trilogy as a whole since the final two films seemed so thematically different. But one of the most common critiques had to do with the Emperor. Whether you sided with the Jedi or the Sith, you were probably left wondering just how exactly he managed to survive the events of "Return of the Jedi" since that wasn’t totally explained in a satisfying way in J.J. Abrams’ 2019 film.
However, one person who wasn’t too concerned with the how of the Emperor’s return was Ian McDiarmid. Appearing as both Supreme Chancellor and Emperor Palpatine in both the original and the prequel trilogies, the veteran actor was very happy to get the call to return for the sequels. And he touched on the reasoning behind the Sith Lord’s return at this year’s Star Wars Celebration.
On the first day of the 2022 edition of the con, /Film was on hand at the "Ian McDiarmid: An Audience With The Emperor" panel where the star discussed his time in a galaxy far, far away. When it came to his character’s return in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, he took umbrage with those who didn’t think that Darth Sidious would have a plan in place in case of his demise.
Only now, at the end, do you understand
"It was nice to know that I wasn’t dead. Well, he wouldn’t be, would he?" McDiarmid said at the panel. He continued:
A lot of people said, ‘You can’t bring him back, he was dead! Did you see that fall? How could anyone survive that?’ Excuse me… [audience laughs] He’s the Emperor of the Universe. Anyway, nobody’s going to tell me he wouldn’t have had a Plan B, should someone — unlikely though he may have thought — manage to semi-destroy him. And of course he had the best operational ward team of surgeons, they were very small but they were very thorough, maybe you remember from the film. And he had the best that money could buy, that enforcement could produce. And he also had that marvelous galactic wheelchair, which was a huge advantage."
McDiarmid then went on to reveal that the Emperor originally looked more worse for wear in "Rise of Skywalker." The initial design included a bad arm and tubes coming out of his head. Although in the end, the production decided to make all the sophisticated machinery keeping the Emperor together less visible, similar to the prostheses used by Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Considering how many years have passed since his run in with his former apprentice, it’s possible that Palpatine started with all the extra accoutrements, then pared them down to what we saw onscreen as time went on.
Regardless of how you felt about the execution of the Emperor’s return in the sequel trilogy, Ian McDiarmid deserves his roses for portraying the biggest bad in the entire galaxy. Whether he pops up again in another "Star Wars" project or not, he still managed to present the perfect portrayal of ultimate evil. Or at the very least, you have to respect the work that he puts into his craft in order to have an answer like that ready for a fanbase that can sometimes be passionate to a fault. Either way, maybe this clears up some of the long-standing confusion surrounding "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" for our readers out there.