Is An Original ‘Star Wars’ Villain Returning For Episode VII?

Every hero movie needs a big bad villain to contend with, and a new Star Wars: Episode VII scoop may have the biggest and baddest from the Star Wars universe returning. Beware, because this is a potentially huge spoiler for the rebirth of the franchise.

Warning: There is spoiler material ahead. This is your last chance to turn back.

According to two independent sources with Latino Review, the grand maestro behind all of the evil from the original trilogy and the prequels will return. Yep, none other than Emperor Palpatine will be back to pull the strings for what’s left of the Empire. Dean Faraci at Badass Digest confirms that his sources also tell him that Palpatine will be back.

The difference between the two sources is Latino Review claiming that Palpatine is confirmed for not only Star Wars: Episode VII but the Rian Johnson directed Episode VIII as well. Additionally, the site claims that the recently leaked concept art image is actually of a disfigured and half-cyborg Emperor.

Star Wars: Episode VII - Leaked Concept Art
Is this Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode VII?

Yes, that means Palpatine survived being tossed down the giant tube at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and the subsequent explosion of the Death Star. Outlandish? Not entirely.

Return of the Jedi established that Luke had time to drag a dying Darth Vader to a shuttle bay, take his mask off, and have a short final conversation before the Death Star went up in flames. If Luke could survive his fall at the end of Empire Strikes Back and be rescued, it’s not completely unreasonable that the Emperor, a powerful Sith Lord, would be able to do the same.

Latino Review’s other interesting revelation about the Emperor is that he will not be played by Ian McDiarmid. The 70-year old actor has played the Emperor since his first appearance in Empire Strikes Back. That leaves open the question about the character’s final appearance in the film set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. The concept art suggests a rather darker visage.

Reportedly, Palpatine was included in the original Star Wars: Episode VII script by Michael Arndt. However, that script was rewritten by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan to the point where most of the concepts were tossed out. That’s apparently not the case with Emperor Palpatine though.

What do you think of Palpatine’s potential return for Star Wars: Episode VII and Episode VIII? Is the ultimate villain the series needs or would have preferred to see a new face?

[Images via NYO Gallerist NY, IndieRevolver]