Star Wars Reveals the Moment Palpatine Truly Mastered Force Lightning


  • Emperor Palpatine’s mastery of Force lightning improved between Episode III and Episode VI, as shown in Star Wars: Darth Vader #40.
  • The key event that led to Palpatine’s increased precision and power with Force lightning was Darth Vader’s attack on Coruscant.
  • The ripples in the Force and Palpatine’s mastery of the dark side allowed him to access moments of unparalleled power, sustaining that level of power and enabling him to call upon it whenever he wanted.



Warning! This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: Darth Vader #40 While Emperor Palpatine’s Force lightning is his go-to move during a fight, he wasn’t always a master of that particular ability within Star Wars canon. However, the moment he did master that power has just presumably been chronicled, effectively bridging the gap between Episode III and Episode VI (while also making Episode IX much more believable).

Chronologically, Palpatine used Force lightning for one of the first times in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (when considering just the films, as he did so a number of times in Star Wars: The Clone Wars). But, when he used it against Mace Windu, the Master Jedi was able to turn it back on him, causing Palpatine great physical harm.

Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine being weakened by his Force Lightning in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Then, in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Palpatine not only used Force-lightning against Luke Skywalker (who was able to best Darth Vader at that point) like it was nothing, but the Emperor was also able to use Force lightning against Darth Vader even when Vader had Palpatine in his arms. This proved not only his mastery of the ability, but his precision, focus, and power when using it – things that clearly did not exist in Episode III. So, what could have happened between those two films? Well, it all comes down to one key event during the era of the original trilogy: universal ripples in the Force, and Darth Vader’s subsequent attack on Coruscant.

Darth Vader Brings Out The Best In Emperor Palpatine’s Force Lightning Power

In Star Wars: Darth Vader #40 by Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco, Darth Vader has finally had enough of the Emperor’s tests, toying with his life as if it’s all just a twisted game to him, and he decides to launch a full-scale attack on Palpatine’s palace on Coruscant. When the two Sith Lords meet, Vader strikes with his lightsaber while Palpatine blocks with his Force lightning – and then the Emperor really starts to show off.

While fighting Vader without even wielding a lightsaber, Palpatine skews the electrical current of his Force lightning to electrocute the droids Vader was using in his assault on the palace. With a single surge of dark side power, the Emperor effectively took out a small army with his Force lightning single-handedly, and it was Vader’s attack that pushed Palpatine to display that level of precision and power with Force lightning for the first time.

Palpatine’s Force Lightning Precision & Power In Star Wars’ OT & ST, Explained

Star Wars' Palpatine at full strength with his Force Lightning.

During the events of this Star Wars comic, there are ripples in the Force that have been ripping through the universe since the opening of the Fermata Cage in Hidden Empire. Depending on the ebb and flow of the cosmic current, a Force-user is either overflowing with power in the Force, or is seemingly cut off from the Force entirely. This means that Palpatine was able to experience moments of unparalleled power, and given his mastery of the dark side, he was able to sustain that level of power despite the Force’s ebb and flow. From that point forward, Palpatine was able to call upon that level of dark side power whenever he wanted, which is why he had such powerful and precise Force lightning in Episode VI, and how he was able to conjure the Force Storm shown in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.

Emperor Palpatine has come a long way from having his own iconic attack shot back at him in Episode III to defeating Luke Skywalker and killing Darth Vader with it in Episode VI (and even wiping out an entire legion of ships in Episode IX), and the events of this Star Wars comic seemingly reveal the moment he truly mastered Force lightning.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #40 by Marvel Comics is available now.


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