Star Wars Releases Unused Palpatine Designs In Official Concept Art From The Rise of Skywalker

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Updated:
The Rise of Skywalker Logo, Emperor Palpatine

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker delivered a massive yet divisive finale to the Skywalker Saga last year, so it isn't surprising that the movie is still one of the main subjects of discussion among Star Wars fans.

A central topic of debate among fans is the unexpected return of Emperor Palpatine in Episode IX. In retrospect, it seems that the villain's return was aimed to tie all the three trilogies together, ultimately placing Palpatine as the saga's biggest villain.

However, The Rise of Skywalker failed to deliver a strong reason behind the Emperor's return. Instead, the villain's inclusion somehow derailed the narrative trajectory of the sequel trilogy as a whole. 

Despite the debate and controversies, The Rise of Skywalker still had its fair share of impressive moments and entertaining character beats. And now, a new deep-dive focused on Palpatine's return has been revealed, providing fans with a closer look at the hard work of the film's creative team behind-the-scenes. 


A new release from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) showcases several pieces of never-before-seen concept art of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 

The first image highlights the recovery process of the Emperor during the aftermath of Return of the Jedi. It was shared in the deep dive that the design borrowed “Imperial-era iconography” for the shape language. 

Palpatine Concept Art from Episode IX
From ILM 

The next piece of concept art primarily focuses on the big reveal of the Emperor during Episode IX. The VFX team behind The Rise of Skywalker described it as a “monumental task” while also sharing how the Art department “had to explore how his new self would look.”

Palpatine Concept Art from Episode IX
From ILM 

Palpatine's demise is heavily featured in the next concept art, and it was pointed out that the VFX team used “old school practical techniques found in the older films.”

Palpatine Concept Art from Episode IX
From ILM 


As it is, the new pieces of concept art manage to provide valuable insight regarding Emperor Palpatine's return on the big screen. Given the length of time in-between the events of the original and sequel trilogy, every detail of Palpatine's look had to be carefully crafted for it to make sense in the narrative.

Based on what's been revealed from ILM's archives, it's safe to say that the meticulous planning of the creative team worked wonders, and it eventually led to an impressive on-screen depiction of the character. While some of these images weren't directly translated to screen, certain elements are still intact, and Palpatine's look and menacing feel were convincing from an audience standpoint. 

Palpatine's return in Episode IX still remains a subject of debate among fans, but it's clear that the team behind the villain's comeback worked hard to deliver a promising result. 

As Star Wars enters an exciting new era, another dangerous villain will surely rise, but Palpatine's impact will forever be felt in the galaxy far, far away. 

- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.