The trailer and Star Wars Celebration panel for Episode IX pretty much confirmed that Ian McDiarmid is returning as Emperor Sheev Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. However, the idea of bringing back the iconic villain was originally planned for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
People are currently hyped over Palpatine's return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker but one pointed out that J.J. Abrams already had plans to bring Darth Sidious back in the 2015 movie. Comic book writer and artist Otis Frampton shared an image from the book The Art of The Force Awakens, which clearly shows a major Palpatine clue. Take a look at the picture below.
The illustration clearly shows Palpatine's throne in the ruins of Death Star II, which appears to be submerged. Although this doesn't confirm that Abrams had plans to bring back Sidious in The Force Awakens, it somehow suggests that the Death Star was supposed to show up in the movie. It didn't happen in TFA but at least we now know that both the villain and the destroyed battle station are in Rise of Skywalker.
Abrams himself has confirmed that McDiarmid will be in The Rise of Skywalker and was somehow surprised that the veteran actor's appearance in Episode IX was not leaked. Nevertheless, it was a great surprise for fans who were shocked to discover McDiarmid was on stage as soon as the screening of the film's trailer was over.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently scheduled for release on December 20.