Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Disney Cancels FanX Star Wars Panel Featuring Ian McDiarmid, Hayden Christensen

Is there something huge brewing in the galaxy far, far away?

This past weekend, Disney and Lucasfilm canceled a scheduled Star Wars panel at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, which ran from Thursday, September 5 to Saturday, September 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. An attendee captured video footage of the empty convention hall, where the Star Wars presentation was apparently meant to take place, and further noted that franchise alum Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen were lined up to speak at the panel. (As Star Wars fans know, McDiarmid portrayed the villainous Emperor Palpatine, while Christensen was Anakin Skywalker, the gifted Jedi who eventually turned dark and became Darth Vader.)

According to a Twitter user by the name of Alex Wood, Disney and Lucasfilm allegedly "threatened litigation" if the organizers of FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention "allowed" McDiarmid and Christensen to speak about Star Wars at the panel. The studios apparently made the sudden decision "for fear of leaks." Both FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention representatives and executives at Disney and Lucasfilm have kept quiet about the entire situation, making it all feel even more suspicious.

This 11th-hour cancellation has sparked major speculation in the Star Wars fandom — with many theorizing that both McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine and Christensen's Anakin Skywalker will be in the upcoming franchise film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and that's why Disney and Lucasfilm didn't want them speaking at the panel. 

McDiarmid will indeed appear in the flick, written and directed by The Force Awakens mastermind J.J. Abrams, in some capacity; according to Rey actress Daisy Ridley, Palpatine is "very instrumental" to the plot of the film intended to close out the Skywalker saga. We haven't heard anything in the way of Anakin Skywalker making a surprise return in The Rise of Skywalker, but it feels more plausible now than ever before. That Disney and Lucasfilm brass suddenly (and apparently quite aggressively) canceled a panel at which McDiarmid and Christensen were supposed to speak due to a fear that the actors would spoil parts of the movie suggests that there are some big secrets being kept. 

What has only added fuel to the fire is that McDiarmid and Christensen have appeared in public together recently, having just days before the FanX event visited Salt Late City's Primary Children's Hospital. As one Twitter user said, what else are fans supposed to think after all this, apart from the idea that both Palpatine and Anakin will be in The Rise of Skywalker?

It isn't totally out of the realm of possibility for the two to share the Rise of Skywalker screen. We know that Palpatine is going to be in the film in some way, and considering that he and Anakin spent a considerable amount of time together in the prequel films, it wouldn't be the wildest thing ever if Anakin showed up beside him. Another thing working in the theory's favor? The title of the film. Anakin is, of course, a Skywalker — so there's a chance that he could be one of two Skywalkers who will "rise" in the new movie. Perhaps both Anakin and his son Luke (Mark Hamill), who died at the end of The Last Jedi, will appear as Force Ghosts in The Rise of Skywalker. Considering that we've seen footage of the flick teasing "Dark Rey" — an apparently evil version of the blossoming Jedi who was seen wearing a black robe and wielding a double-bladed red lightsaber — perhaps Rey will face temptation in the film. Maybe Anakin appears to her as a Force Ghost when she feels the pull of the dark side, pushing her to contemplate joining the First Order and aligning herself with Anakin and his grandson Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). And maybe Force Ghost Luke shows up to remind Rey of the goodness inside her, spurring her to continue fighting alongside the Resistance and doing what she feels is right. 

Whatever the case may be, and whatever the reason for the Star Wars FanX panel cancellation really is, there's seemingly a lot going on with The Rise of Skywalker that fans don't know about. The good news is that they won't have to wait too much longer to find out the full truth: The Rise of Skywalker will hit theaters on December 20.