There’s already a lot of speculation regarding who’s playing what:
- Daisy Ridley as the daughter of Han and Leia?
- Domhnall Gleeson as Luke’s son?
- Andy Serkis as Clippy the Paperclip?
The most solid rumour is Adam Driver as a villain, but that’s about it.
The fans love to speculate, however, and one of the most popular suggestions is Max von Sydow as Darth Plagueis. At first I thought the idea was crazy, but the more I think about it, the more the idea has merit.
What do we know about Plagueis from canon sources? Just this bit of dialogue from Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith:
Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying… He became so powerful, the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. It’s ironic he could save others from death, but not himself.
We also know that Lucasfilm fussed over the Plagueis novel to an almost unparalleled degree, suggesting that George Lucas himself was shaping the story from behind the scenes. That book is no longer canon, but obviously Lucas was particularly interested in that backstory, and no doubt he was pulling threads together in his mind for a possible sequel trilogy while the book was coming together.
But Plagueis is dead. Or is he? The only way Darth Vader could be topped as a villain was for him to be manipulated by a puppet-master; what if Palpatine was similarly manipulated by his old Master (who is not as dead as he may have let on)? The beauty of this twist is that there’s actual foreshadowing in Episode III for a big reveal that might not occur until the end of Episode VII. And it totally justifies the existence of the sequel trilogy.
It may still all be crazy-talk, and I’d suggest that even if Plagueis is in Episode VII, he won’t be a Muun and may even have a totally unrecognisable backstory. I’m not suggesting that the James Luceno novel will have anything to do with the new films, only that Lucas apparently had a vested interest in the character while he was planning the sequel trilogy.
But putting Plagueis in the sequel trilogy would be a masterstroke if done well.