‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Might Just Mean Emperor Palpatine Is a Skywalker

From a certain point of view, Emperor Palpatine is already part of the family.

star wars episode 9 spoilers rumors theories emperor palpatine rise of skywalker

How can someone named Skywalker rise if there aren’t any people who go by the name of Skywalker left in the galaxy? Right now, every Star Wars fan is searching their feelings, and wondering which Skywalker the title Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is talking about. Is it Kylo Ren? The ghost of Luke Skywalker? Leia? Or is Rey’s lineage really getting retconned? All of these things are possible, but no one is talking about the more obvious family connection.

Almost nothing is known about the origins of Sheev Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, aka the Emperor. And now that his famous laugh has returned to a galaxy far, far away, it’s possible that a Star Wars film will finally depict him as a member of the Skywalker family.

Speculative spoilers (maybe) ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is obsessed with his grandfather, who we know as both Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker. Anakin/Vader was Luke and Leia’s biological father, but who was Anakin’s father? In The Phantom Menace, Shmi Skywalker (Anakin’s mom, and the oldest Skywalker ancestor in canon) tells Qui-Gon Jinn that “there was no father.” This leads Qui-Gon to the conclusion that Anakin Skywalker was “conceived by the midichlorians” which basically means Anakin was a Force baby. (Do not call this an “immaculate conception,” by the way, because that’s not what it was, and you’ll see why in a second.)

The idea that Anakin was like a space Jesus born of a virgin birth gets wrinkled in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine tells Anakin that a Sith Lord named Darth Plagueis could influence the “midichlorians to create … life.” This scene heavily implied that Palpatine used the Dark Side of the Force to help make the midichlorians put a Force baby inside of Shmi. In all Biblical lore, this is called the “virgin birth,” whereas the “immaculate conception” refers to the conception of Mary, Jesus’s mother, who was conceived without sin. If Anakin Skywalker was conceived by the Dark Side of the Force, there is nothing immaculate about his conception. I mean, the Emperor clearly has a bad dental plan, so we can only guess if he ever washes his hands.

Darth Vader #25 show's Anakin's conception
The relevant panel from 'Darth Vader #25' from Marvel comics. Look! Palpatine is Anakin Skywalker's dad! He's part of the family! 

The point is, the notion that the Emperor did, in fact, use the Dark Side to help make baby Anakin is 100 percent canon. Last year, in the canon Marvel comic series Darth Vader #25, Anakin witnesses a Force flashback where he sees Palps use the Force to make a baby in Shmi. (Let’s all thank the Force there was no sex scene!)

So, through evil magic, there are two pieces of canonical evidence that make Palpatine Anakin Skywalker’s father; an implied conversation in Revenge of the Sith, and an outright flashback in an in-canon comic book. Will The Rise of Skywalker double down on all of this? It feels likely that some allusion to that backstory will have to come up, even if the film doesn’t state outright that Palps is “a Skywalker.”

The assumption most of us have about the Skywalkers is that they are the saviors of the galaxy, but in terms of ratios, that’s not really true. Anakin Skywalker was pretty much the cause of most things that are bad in the galaxy, and his grandson, Ben Solo (Skywalker) is a mass murderer who killed his own father and really, really wanted to kill his uncle Luke.

In contrast to this, Luke and Leia are pretty good Skywalkers, but their positive contributions relative to the bad shit other members of their family have caused — on both sides of the generational divide, I might add — don’t really seem significant. In other words, Luke and Leia are heroes, but the Dark Side Skywalkers have gotten more shit done. If we throw the Emperor into all of that as the catalyst of the Skywalker family, then, again, in the aggregate, the Skywalkers are more bad news than good.

Palpatine and Anakin
Palpatine chatting up Anakin.

Which brings us back to the central question: does The Rise of Skywalker mean the Emperor is rising? Or that the family itself is ascending again? Back in 2017, everyone got into a similar debate about The Last Jedi; with several arguments about whether or not that “last Jedi” was Luke, Rey, or Ben Solo. In the film, it turned out that “the Last Jedi” was both plural and singular, which means, the title could apply to all of those people.

So, if the Emperor is given some status as a Skywalker in The Rise of Skywalker, the same thing will probably happen. Luke’s ghost is rising. Leia’s influence is rising, and the evil Skywalker who used the Force to help create the Chosen One, well, he’s rising, too. And laughing like a maniac the whole time.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out in theaters on December 20, 2019.

Media via Lucasfilm/Marvel Comics, Lucasfilm