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Now that the Disney convention D23 has come and gone without a single peep about Star Wars: Episode VII, we can safely assume that actual information about the movie-- authentic, confirmed information-- is still a ways off. So take with yet another giant grain of salt the latest rumor from Latino Review, where they're hearing that one very major character from Return of the Jedi could be making an appearance in Episode VII. In ghost form.
According to their unnamed source, Emperor Palpatine-- who was killed by Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, as you might remember-- will appear in Episode VII as a ghost, the kind of spirit that Obi-Wan became after his death in A New Hope (I would spoiler tag all this stuff, but come on you guys). Obi-Wan was only able to appear as a spirit to guide Luke because of his Jedi skills, but apparently there's a way for Sith lords to do this as well-- at least, according to the Star Wars wiki. We're operating in a world of major speculation here, so even if something seems implausible, it's entirely possible that writer Michael Arndt and director J.J. Abrams are finding ways to tweak the existing mythology and make it serve their purpose. After all, Abrams is the guy who created a black hole in space to allow for time travel and younger versions of the Starship Enterprise crew in his Star Trek reboot. A Sith Lord able to become a Force Ghost is nothing compared to a romance between Spock and Uhura.
The Latino Review rumor also says that Ian McDiarmid, who played Palpatine in both the original films and the prequels, is set to reprise the role, likely with the crazy old age makeup that he had in the original films that will mask any evidence of aging. What's unclear, though, is why Palpatine would reappear, and who he would be giving evil advice as some kind of dark version of Obi-Wan. There's strong evidence to suggest that Abrams and Arndt want to include links to the original trilogy, but Palpatine-as-ghost doesn't seem like the most obvious way to do it. Is this some kind of sneaky way for them to nod to Jedi and then move on with central characters who are more important? Or is it just wishful thinking from fans who want more of that evil dude lurking around in the Star Wars universe?
At this point in the rumor cycle it's nearly impossible to tell the wishful thinking from the actual rumors anyway, so have at it with your own speculation in the comments.
Should Emperor Palpatine show up in Episode VII?