Ian McDarmid as Emperor Palpatine

Fans of the old Expanded Universe of ‘Star Wars’ (now known as the “Legacy” universe) have long known the story of Emperor Palpatine having dozens of clones of himself hidden across the galaxy, ready to rise up and take his place in the event of his death with the Dark Lord of the Sith even having figured out how to transfer his consciousness and mind from each dying body to a new clone body. So, in essence, it was always The Emperor Palpatine, just with a new form. So it was not really all that surprising when news broke that in the upcoming novelization of the film ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ it definitively states that the Emperor seen in the movie is a clone of the original Emperor. What is strange is why JJ Abrams and company did not include that information in the film itself, as the sudden appearance of Palpatine with no explanation of how he survived the events on the Second Death Star was somewhat jarring for a lot of fans.

While attending a convention recently, the man behind the Emperor mask, Ian McDiarmid spoke on the confirmation of the Emperor being a clone in the movie, saying:

“The cloning thing? Yes. Well, of course, there were all sorts of explanations for why I might return. But it’s interesting because at one point the script had line in that first scene with Adam who when he says ‘You’re a clone.’ and I said in that original script which is no longer with us ‘More than a clone. Less than a man.’ Which seemed to me to sum it up really.”

McDiarmid makes it seem like it was so simply explained in only a handful of lines, so there had to have been a conscious decision by Abrams and/or Disney to cut out the line and leave his resurrection unexplained, though why they chose to do that is beyond me.

If I had to guess, it would be the following: Calling the Emperor a “clone” in the film might take away some of his gravitas and sense of immortality as the new person being a clone would mean the original, bad-ass Emperor truly is dead, and this is just a pale imitation.

Which, in a way, this Emperor was.

His whole plan was to copy the superweapon of the original Death Star and put it into hundreds of Star Destroyers. Sure the scale was bigger, but it was still pretty much the same plan as the original Emperor: to rule the galaxy and let fear of his weapons keep everyone in line. Only this Emperor could not even get enough momentum going to lead his Empire beyond one planet.

What are your thoughts on the clone twist? Did you already suspect that was the case? Does this change anyone’s opinions (good or bad) about ‘The Rise of Skywalker?’ Feel free to share your musings below in the comments!