OPINION: The Return of Palpatine and the Issue With The Star Wars Sequels

Star Wars is one of the biggest franchises in history. The original trilogy changed the way we view cinema; the prequel trilogy laid the groundwork for modern CGI and the sequel trilogy? Well, we’ll have to wait and see what their legacy will be. One thing for sure, they need to let the past die. Under Disney, the franchise seems to cling onto the past in hopes of keeping older fans on board, and it’s killing the franchise.

It all starts with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first film in the new franchise. Now, the film is a solid introduction to the world post Return of the Jedi. Still, it’s a remake of Star Wars: A New Hope. After coming off of the heels of the poorly received prequels, it makes total sense for them to ease us back in with something familiar. Then, Rian Johnson takes over for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and then the fanbase is practically split in two.

In The Last Jedi, Johnson decided to separate the new trilogy from the originals. We double down on Ben’s turn to the darkness, take out Supreme Leader Snoke, reaffirm that Rey is not of Skywalker or Kenobi lineage, and take Luke down a path of redemption when fans didn’t think their hero needed to be redeemed. The film wanted to change the status quo, and regardless of how you feel about the movie, I think we can all agree they were successful. Unfortunately, the film was met with mixed reception, and Disney needed to change course yet again.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Some fans want to keep the franchise the same. Others want it to grow and change. Disney tried to do both, and it backfired. The Star Wars stories, Rouge One and Solo tell stories we didn’t even need. Are they bad films? Not at all but they continue the trend of holding on to the original trilogy era of Star Wars. How the Resistance received the Death Star plans or Han Solo’s origin are probably best kept as a mystery. This brings us to The Rise of Skywalker, the end of the new trilogy. First off I’m not going to speculate on the title because that can be anything, but having the name Skywalker is going to be a massive draw for casual viewers. I mainly want to talk about Palpatine.

One of the things about referring back to the previous films is that it undermines their character arcs. Luke, Leia, and Han saving the galaxy from the Empire’s reign, only for their descendant to rise and lead the First Order. Vader turns back to the light and killing Palpatine, but we learn Palpatine survives. Han learning to work with others and has a family, then abandons them and becomes a smuggler. It almost renders everything we’ve ever watched pointless. The entire storyline never ended, and that’s a problem. Star Wars should be this vast universe filled with different characters and stories. Instead, we harp on the same ones, making them lose what made them special. Vader’s arc is tainted if Palpatine somehow returns. The new films are retroactively changing the old ones.

While we should never forget the past, we should also allow room for something new. Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren should’ve had their own stories without relying on what came before. The rise and fall of the Jedi and Sith have been this continuing story throughout the entire franchise. If Palpatine is more than just a vision or a flashback, then we undermine everything The Last Jedi tried to do – tell a new story.

In a world full sequels and reboots, Star Wars is one of the few that can keep itself fresh but always reverts to the status quo. Every story needs an ending. Hopefully The Rise of Skywalker is truly the final chapter in this part of the saga.

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