**Mild spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are contained in this post – read on at your peril if you haven’t seen the movie yet!**
Whether you loved Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker or hated it, there were undeniably a few strange choices made in its development – and the new film’s link to Fortnite is perhaps the most baffling of all.
Like all the movies in the series, Star Wars Episode IX kicks off with the John Williams fanfare and the crawl of yellow introductory text floating off into space.
And, as you may have already gathered from the spoilerific-trailers, Emperor Palpatine, the big bad from the first six films, is back.
It’s a huge moment for the Star Wars story, what with Palpatine having apparently been defeated by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Which makes his re-introduction – via the opening crawl – feel like a wasted opportunity for most Star Wars fans. Here’s the wording from that crawl:
“The dead speak! The galaxy has heard a mysterious broadcast, a threat of REVENGE in the sinister voice of the late EMPEROR PALPATINE.”
It would have been cool to have seen the shocked reaction of beloved characters to this moment, right? What a shame, then, to have it happen offscreen.
Except… it didn’t happen off-screen – it just didn’t happen on the cinema screen you were watching Rise of Skywalker on.
Instead, the mysterious broadcast was made in, of all places, the game Fortnite. A big cross-media event that saw Star Wars characters and vehicles invade the Fortnite world at a particular moment was the only place you could have heard Palpatine’s broadcast. Here’s the moment caught by a YouTuber:
A disturbance in the Force
Much as we enjoyed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it’s undoubtedly a film with problems – one of which being that, in its unnecessary efforts to retcon (‘retroactive continuity’) all the great stuff about The Last Jedi, it ends up trying to do more than one film can realistically manage.
One such thing is a real reveal for the Emperor. The line above spoken in Fortnite appears nowhere else, and so you can only imagine that director JJ Abrams had recorded the line for a scene with Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid that hit the cutting room floor – presumably to keep the insane pace of the film from slipping. The then-upcoming Fortnite event seemed like as good a place as any to reveal it, then.
Star Wars fans, oracles of the franchise’s extended universe in comics, games and books, are used to finding extra snippets of information outside of the main films. But there had been little to suggest the significance of the Fortnite event, and it remains an odd (and exclusionary) way to announce the return of the baddest bad guy in that galaxy far, far away.