There are a lot of places the new Star Wars movies could go. A lot of directions they could take. Plenty of options, plenty of ideas.
Let me tell you what is pretty much at the top of my list for options that would be absolutely the wrong idea.
(Well, my “worst realistic possibilities” list. I’m not counting things like Gungan Jedi or finding out that Jabba is Han’s twin sister.)
And the funny thing, it’s already been done. And it was a bad idea then, too.
Let us return to… I don’t remember. Some year in the early 90s. And a comic book series called “Dark Empire.”
“Dark Empire” was quite popular at the time, and to this day, I cannot fathom why. I mean absolutely zero disrespect to the creative team–there was nothing wrong with the writing as such, or the art, or any of that. Nonetheless, it was an absolute travesty as a chapter of the Star Wars saga, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Jar-Jar was less damaging to the saga than “Dark Empire.”
So, back to the movies, my number one thing I do not want to see. I won’t be so hyperbolic as to claim it’s a dealbreaker–I’ll be standing in that line, and we both know it–but it’s close.
Do not, do not, do not, DO NOT bring back the Emperor. No miraculous survival. Sure as hell no clones. Not even whatever the Dark Side equivalent to the “Force ghosts” might be.
NONE OF THAT.
Vader’s sacrifice at the end of Return of the Jedi is the entire reason for the original trilogy to exist in the form we know it. (Stress “in the form we know it.” Before Lucas decided Vader was Anakin, it would’ve gone differently, of course, but that would’ve made two of the three movies entirely different.)
It winds up being the focal point of all six movies we have to date. It is not only the single most meaningful decision point in the Star Wars saga, it was one of the archetypal such decision points in genre/popular culture. Period. Full stop.
Bringing the Emperor back, after that? In any way, shape, or form? It renders that sacrifice utterly meaningless.
I can already hear the arguments. “But it still showed his change of heart!” “But it still dealt the Empire a major defeat!”
Yes, this is true. It’s also not enough.
You cannot take away the primary accomplishment of that act, the single most impactful, important victory, and still claim it has the same meaning. It doesn’t change damage the story of that moment, but of that entire movie, and through that the entire series.
“Darth Vader killed the Emperor at the cost of his own life, in order to save his son.”
It is not just a weakening of symbolism, but literally bad storytelling, to come along afterward and undo that. To literally undo a prior story.
Find a different direction to in the new movies, okay? Don’t try to recapture old glories. Create new ones.