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SYFY WIRE Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: Palpatine's spiked throne from the final IX trailer dates back to a Ralph McQuarrie sketch from 1981

By Josh Weiss
Emperor Palpatine throne Rise of Skywalker

The final trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker is uplifting as hell, but there's a dark underbelly to the proceedings as well. That's the looming specter of Emperor Sheev Palpatine. We still have yet to see Ian McDiarmid's iconic villain in the flesh, but his nefarious presence — be it his croaky voice or his spiky throne — is all over the new trailer.

Speaking of that "spiky throne," Palpatine's new seat isn't very new at all. In fact, it dates back to a piece of concept art drawn by Ralph McQuarrie for Episode VI - Return of the Jedi in 1983.

This little fun fact was tweeted out by Lucasfilm creative art manager, Phil Szostak.

Director Richard Marquand ended up going for a more conventional-looking throne, but the resurgence of McQuarrie's original vision is a testament to how rich the Star Wars mythology is both in front of and behind the camera. Moreover, this grandisoe take on the Emperor's cathedra feels very fitting with the epic conclusion to the 42-year Skywalker Saga. The new trilogy might be taking the story in a direction different than what George Lucas originally conceived, but it's great to see them still digging deep to finally bring some OG concepts into the canon.

“This is about bringing this thing to a close in a way that is emotional and meaningful and also satisfying in terms of actually answering [as many] questions as possible,” Episode IX's director, J.J. Abrams recently said. “So if years from now, someone’s watching these movies, all nine of them, they’re watching a story that is as cohesive as possible.”

As we mentioned in our story on the trailer, it's still unclear how Palpatine is still alive after he was supposedly killed by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Whatever the explanation for his survival, Sheev's back, and Rey (Daisy Ridley) is going mono-e-mono with him just like her mentor (Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker) did 36 years ago.

We'll be able to see the throne in even more detail when The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters Friday, Dec. 20. Early ticket sales have already outstripped those for Avengers: Endgame and all other Star Wars films.