Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
Before 1980, the biggest spoiler in all of Star Wars was the fact that Luke Skywalker’s dad was really a guy named Anakin Skywalker who went goth and started calling himself Darth Vader. But who was Darth/Anakin’s daddy? A new in-canon Star Wars comic book reveals that father-figure, and if you follow this stuff, it’s exactly who you think it is. And, with the impending release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hinting at the return of a certain someone long-presumed dead, this twist is a pretty big deal.
Spoilers for Marvel’s ongoing Darth Vader comic book series, specifically issue #25.
In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August as Luke and Leia’s grandmother) told Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) that “there was no father,” suggesting Anakin was the product of a virgin birth that just came out of the Force. In that movie, Qui-Gon controversially said that he believed Anakin was “conceived by the midichlorians,” which basically means the silly micro-organisms that live in the Force made Anakin. But then, in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine said that the dark side could “influence the midichlorians to create…life.” This happens in a scene where Anakin and Palps are watching a weird opera. Turns out — as many have suspected — this was a low-key revelation that Palps is Anakin’s daddy. And the new comic book proves it.
The new-ish comic book issue, Darth Vader #25, features a flashback scene in which Anakin is able to relive certain parts of his life, including his birth. And yeah, you guessed it, soon-to-be Emperor Palpatine uses the Dark Side of the Force to make a baby in Shim Skywalker. True to Star Wars tradition, there is no sex involved, only magic.
Update: It turns out that the folks at the Lucasfilm Story Group don’t want everyone to interpret this thing quite so literally. On December 19, 2019, just before The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, Matt Martin pointed out that a “direct connection” between Palpatine creating Anakin’s birth wasn’t really the intention. Martin works for the Lucasfilm Story Group, so his job is to make sure all this stuff makes sense, and he’s saying Palpatine is not Anakin’s dad, spiritually or otherwise. So, this seems to mean that the panel where the Emperor hovers close to Anakin’s mom and seems to put a Force-baby in her, is just an impressionistic thing in a comic book, and not something we should take too seriously.