Emperor Palpatine’s dual identity as Darth Sidious remained a well-guarded secret in the original Star Wars trilogy. However, newer movies, series, and comics have shed light on how this secret was eventually exposed to the wider galaxy. In “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018), viewers were introduced to the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, led by the formidable Darth Maul. The Crimson Reign comic book series (2022) further confirms that Maul divulged the identities of Palpatine and Vader as Dark Sith Lords to his criminal associates, prior to Vader’s pivotal act in “Return of the Jedi.”
Following Maul’s demise (seen in the animated series “Star Wars Rebels”), Qi’ra takes the reins of Crimson Dawn and, in turn, shares Palpatine’s true identity with her subordinates. Placing this chronologically, it occurs after “The Empire Strikes Back” but before “Return of the Jedi.”
The comic books “Crimson Reign” and its sequel “Hidden Empire” by Charles Soule and Steven Cummings definitively establish that the revelation of Palpatine’s true identity had permeated the criminal underworld of the galaxy prior to “Return of the Jedi.”
With Palpatine’s apparent demise in “Return of the Jedi,” the value of keeping his identity concealed wanes, leading to the widespread dissemination of this critical knowledge. Therefore, when he resurfaces in “The Rise of Skywalker,” there is no pretense, and he openly proclaims, “The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.”
Among the divisive elements of the last Star Wars film, Palpatine’s return and his connection to Rey stand out as particularly controversial. Should there be future Star Wars films, many fans hope for a departure from excessive reliance on nostalgia, instead looking forward to new and distinct villains in the Star Wars universe.