Emperor Palpatine’s alternate identity as Darth Sidious was kept a closely guarded secret from the wider Star Wars universe throughout the original trilogy. But, newer movies, series, and comics indicate that one of the best Star Wars villains – Darth Maul – revealed the Sith Lord’s secret to his cohorts in crime.
We unfortunately all remember Poe Dameron’s infamous line; “somehow, Palpatine has returned” in the much maligned Rise of Skywalker, and were aware that since the events of Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars galaxy had learned that the Emperor was really an evil Sith.
But in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, we were introduced to the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, and one of the most popular Star Wars characters – Darth Maul – was revealed to be at its head. And the Crimson Reign comic book series (2022) confirms that Maul exposed Palpatine and Vader as Dark Sith Lords to his cronies – before Vader kills his mentor in Return of the Jedi. Maul may have a super-cool double-bladed lightsaber, but he just doesn’t give a sith about spoilers.
When Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) takes over as the head of Crimson Dawn after Darth Maul’s death (seen in the animated series Star Wars series Rebels), she shares Palpatine’s identity with her underlings. If you’re watching the Star Wars movies in order, this takes place after Empire Strikes Back, but before Return of the Jedi – we hope you’re keeping up and taking notes, there will be a test later!
So, the comic books Crimson Reign and its follow-up Hidden Empire by Charles Soule and Steven Cummings confirm that Palpatine’s real identity had been revealed throughout the criminal underworld of the galaxy before Return of the Jedi.
Once Palpatine is “killed” in Return of the Jedi, there’s no value in keeping his identity secret and the news of his true nature spreads throughout the galaxy. Therefore, when he returns in The Rise of Skywalker (sigh) – there’s no pretense and he even announces; “The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.”
Of all the bad decisions made in the last Star Wars movie, the return of Palpatine – and his connection to Rey – has got to be the most hated. If we ever get a new Star Wars movie, we hope that it isn’t quite so obsessed with retreading the past and can look to the future and hopefully a new, different Star Wars villain.
We’re looking forward to Andor season 2, as well as the two new Star Wars – Skeleton Crew and The Acolyte. We’re also looking forward to seeing the final MCU movie of the year – The Marvels – very soon.