It's hard to believe that everyone's favorite movie, The Rise of Skywalker , is nearly a year old.
Since its release, Episode IX has sparked quite a bit of discussion, by way of both high praise and enormous criticism. While feelings on the way it was presented are up to personal interpretation, the dark side was far more prominent in this film than either of its Sequel Trilogy predecessors, something made clear in just the opening sequence.
The Rise of Skywalker provided a last-minute introduction to a group known as the Sith Eternal, a population of cultists devoted to worshipping the ancient evil religion. Somehow Palpatine returned, and when Kylo Ren went to confront the decaying phantom menace, he also found himself deep within the bowels of the Sith Eternal lair. In that fortress were quite a few references to members of the Sith Order who had come before, some of which are depicted in newly released concept art...
The ILM Art Department has revealed several new pieces of concept art depicting Sith Lords from The Old Republic era, including Revan, Malak, Nihilus, and Malgus:
Statues featuring the legendary Sith were also designed:
WHAT THIS MEANS
It's a shame that we didn't get to see more of this in the film. Because the movie operated on such a break-neck pace, little time was allotted for exploration of the environments. If the creative team at Lucasfilm felt that Sidious had to return, making that the plot of the entire trilogy would've allowed for places like Exegol to receive more background and expansion.
Having the ancient origins of the Jedi Order on Ahch-to being countered by the Sith world Exegol could've been a neat foil if planned accordingly, and there's so much history to be pulled from. While the events that saw the debut of the legendary Sith Lords in this art are no longer canon, the Old Republic era still remains one of the most popular in the franchise and could easily tie in to groups like the Sith Eternal on Exegol if brought into the canon.
Fans will undoubtedly recognize these Sith from the Knights of the Old Republic and The Old Republic video game series. Revan and Malak have a bit more of a complicated story than meets the eye, but Malgus and Nihilus are truly evil and fit the mold of what a Sith Lord ruling on Exegol would be like. For such a selfish philosophy, it's interesting that the Sith would have statues and monuments of their predecessors on display, but if the cultists forged the pillars, then perhaps it was in celebration of the once mighty Sith Order.
It certainly would've been nice to see more of these kinds of Sith elements in The Rise of Skywalker , and the Sequel Trilogy as a whole. The history of the Sith is a concept that hasn't received much exposition in the films, and how the actions of the Lords who reigned during the Old Republic era impacted the part of the timeline that we know best is something worthy of exploration.
Perhaps as Lucasfilm continues to chart their path forward, we may find ourselves going backwards and getting to know the villains currently represented in stone.