If done perfectly, in a decent movie, Palpatine could have worked. This was nowhere near that movie.
You’re probably right. I remember some of the early speculation, from after the teaser trailer was released, said that Palpatine would appear as a possessing spirit. The main villain would be a Sith loyalist, played by Matt Smith, who gets possessed by Palpatine’s spirit towards the end of the movie. That could have been a much better way to bring him back.
I would have loved something like that. However, the whole ‘Palps is all the Sith’ was much more sophisticated an idea than I expected, so it’s not as it he was a complete waste. And it actually improves the angle in ROTJ where Palps wants Luke to kill him. Now we get a reason.
Kylo as a villain also has issues. He’s compelling, but nowhere near intimidating enough to be a ‘big bad’. Hux is a joke by the end of TLJ, so he can’t be the primary villain. Both characters are also far too hotheaded to be masterminds of the First Order. The only choice left is to create a new villain. In my rewrite I chose Thrawn since he is a perfect coolheaded mastermind with which to balance the fire of Hux, and Kylo is quickly redeemed. Yes, it is difficult to redeem such a character since he has rejected two calls so far, but it also feels wrong in a series so focused on the concept of saving conflicted characters to not have Kylo be redeemed.
I understand why you chose Thrawn as the villain in your rewrite, but for me it has two issues:
- Thrawn has no force sensitivity. The main villains of the saga, namely Palpatine and Snoke, have always been force sensitive, so it could be underwhelming to break the tradition for the final movie of the saga.
True, in a standard story he would be underwhelming, but in my version Thrawn’s plan is to destroy Force sensitivity throughout the galaxy (starting with Kylo and Rey), making him a threat to the Force itself instead of merely another Darkside user. Instead of rising to the level of Palpatine, he’s dragging everyone else down to his level where he is superior. It also helps to alleviate the power creep that tends to happen near the end of magical stories.
- Thrawn wasn’t established at all in the previous two movies. Just like what happened with Palpatine, randomly introducing a new main villain in the final movie of a trilogy is probably not a good idea.
Again you are right but there’s really no other option unless you go the Kylo or Hux main villain route. However since he never becomes Supreme Leader, it could be assumed that he was always working offscreen as a part of the First Order, like General Pryde. It’s not as bad as announcing him as the new biggest thing in the galaxy ever suddenly. And he’s already made appearances in other Disney Star Wars media and is the most well-known villain in Star Wars who hasn’t yet had a mention in the movies.
Those are also the main reasons why I wish Kylo would have been the main villain. I disagree with the idea that Star Wars is all about redeeming villains, that has only happened once in the entire saga.
But that redemption was built up to for six movies, no Star Wars film has escaped that shadow. Of course there are villains who do not get redemption, like Tarkin or Palps or Dooku, but they are all acting basically of their own volition. Vader and to an extent Kylo are much more controlled and intentionally twisted by their masters into villains. You could argue that by the end of TLJ Kylo is now uncontrolled by his master, but we also see how destabilizing and weak this makes him. If he continues in this haunted, weakened vengeful state it is increasingly difficult to take him seriously as a villain, much less the ruler of the galaxy.