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Lucasfilm Addresses Popular Fan Theory About Anakin

A long-standing theory about how Emperor Palpatine orchestrated three generations of the Skywalker line has seemingly been put to rest right along with him. 

The Rise of Skywalker set out to answer many lingering questions around the sequel trilogy and the larger Star Wars canon as possible. In the process, the film happened to kick up quite a few long-simmering fan theories. Among them was the belief that evil galactic overlord Palpatine created Anakin Skywalker, who would eventually become the dark lord of the Sith best known as Darth Vader. Fans argued that Palpatine achieved this through his mastery of the dark side energy, which he then used to manifest Anakin in his mother Shmi Skywalker's womb. 

However, Lucasfilm Story Group Creative Executive Matt Martin recently addressed this idea head-on. In a recent Twitter thread, he clarified that a comic panel that fueled this theory about Palpatine's long-game in the fight for control of the Force was... downright wrong. 

"I can tell you definitively, as someone who worked on the comic, that is 100% not the intended implication," Martin wrote. "I'm not saying there isn't a logical misinterpretation that they're coming to. I'm just telling you definitively that it's not correct."

The tweet was in response to Twitter user @softboykylo, who just a day before the wide U.S. release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker messaged Martin about a famous panel in the 2018 release Darth Vader #25. The scene is a vision sequence of the past from the mind of Vader that features his mother Shmi still pregnant and standing with her hands, cradling her stomach. Palpatine hovers behind her, his fingers crooked and his face spread into a frighteningly dark and menacing smile. In the next panel, an ominous swirl forms at the center of Schmi's pregnant belly, seemingly in response to Palpatine's Sith sorcery.

Since the issue's release, fans have speculated that the scene implies Palpatine played a significant role in Anakin's birth – making Anakin's eventual turn to the dark side not an act of choice but of destiny. The theory was exacerbated after Matt Martin took to Twitter in December 2018 to say that "a very subtle thing from one panel" in Darth Vader #25 had yet to been discussed amongst fans. But following a tweet from @softboykylo asking for clarification on whether the panel implied Palpatine had created Anakin, Martin made it clear that the Emperor had no role in Anakin's birth. The scene, Martin argues, is actually a manifestation of Palpatine's manipulations and Vader's fears mixing. 

"This is all in Anakin's head," Martin tweeted in response to a fan who pushed back against his complete dismissal of the fan theory. "Wouldn't that idea, a concept that Palps hinted at to Anakin himself, be something likely to freak Anakin out? Something that would linger in his mind? 'Oh crap, what if he made me!' Doesn't make it true. It's all through Anakin's lens."

It looks like with just a little obsession, a dash of aggressive corruption, and a pinch of luck, Palpatine was able to turn Anakin to the dark side and nearly unsettle the balance of the Force without having to conjure up a "chosen one." 

The theory existed in Star Wars fandom before the release of Darth Vader #25

Martin may have cleared up some ongoing confusion around how a Star Wars comic storyline might have mistakenly misrepresented the birth of Anakin in the current canon for a group of hawk-eyed fans, but the theory actually goes much farther back than those 2018 panels – and its older source could keep the flame of the argument alive. 

Fans' early speculations about whether Palpatine could have "fathered" Anakin stem from the Star Wars prequel series – more specifically Revenge of the Sith, a film written by franchise creator George Lucas himself. Hardcore fans probably remember a small but significant detail from Jonathan W. Rinzler's book The Making of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith that revealed a storyline and critical dialogue from a rough draft of Lucas's Revenge of the Sith script. 

In the scene, which was ultimately cut from the film, Palpatine tells Anakin, "I have waited all these years for you to fulfill your destiny... I arranged for your conception. I used the power of the Force to will the Midi-chlorians to start the cell divisions that created you." The Emperor then says that Anakin can essentially think of him as his father. 

The detail is only in supplementary material and, as previously stated, isn't included in the theatrical version of Revenge of the Sith. In the long and ongoing debates about what qualifies as story "canon," that might not be enough for many fans. For one in particular, however, it's all he needs. On the heels of Martin's tweets, Star Wars voice actor Sam Witwer came to the defense of the theory on Twitter, vaguely citing the deleted scene as evidence that Anakin could have been a product of the Sith lord's powers. 

A real Star Wars fanatic himself, the former Smallville and Being Human actor voiced Emperor Palpatine on season 2 of the animated series Star Wars Rebels, Darth Maul on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, both characters in the Star Wars game Battlefront II, and a slew of side or one-off characters in The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Rogue One. On Christmas Day 2019, Witwer tweeted in response to the fan theory, "Palpatine quite possibly was responsible for Anakin's birth. Come at me story group. And Merry Christmas!"

He then followed up with a fan who pointed out Martin's declaration just a few days earlier. "And I disagree with him. George put it in his movie," Witwer wrote. "I know a thing or two about the dark side, and I say it's possible. But why? Why do [I] insist it's possible? Because George Lucas made an independent movie and suggested it was possible. As makers of Star Wars, we're here to lay possibilities on the table, not take them away."

It's important to note that Martin and Witwer are talking about Anakin and Palpatine's storylines in different separate mediums: comics and film. And while the entire Star Wars universe should logically be strung together with zero plot holes across mediums, with so much canon out there — including that which Disney has retconned since taking over Lucasfilm — it looks like fans will have to settle on an answer to this question using their own discretion.