Grand Admiral Thrawn, a recurring villain from the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, is shaping up to be an important part of the series’s future. Despite its origins as a film series, the Star Wars franchise now appears to be thriving in multiple mediums, most notably on the small screen, with an ever-expanding selection of live-action Disney+ TV shows.
The success of the streaming service was ensured by the simultaneous release of the first episode of The Mandalorian season 1, and the continued importance of Lucasfilm shows to the platform’s success.
The Mandalorian is set in a hitherto uncharted period five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The next Disney+ Star Wars TV shows will also take place during this period, and there are signs that they all contribute to the same larger story. Grand Admiral Thrawn, a key villain from the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, is widely assumed to be the primary antagonist.
The Villain Origin of Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Legends
Grand Admiral Thrawn, a fictional creation by author Timothy Zahn, was the first and only alien to reach the highest ranks of the Imperial military. The extraterrestrial with the blue skin and red eyes was a Chiss from the “Unknown Regions,” which have been described as an “unexplored infinity… closed off by a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger.”
Thrawn was extremely essential to Palpatine because of his extensive knowledge of the Unknown Regions, his extraordinary military acumen, and his ability to understand opponents via their art.
The Grand Admiral was so terrible at politics that he was exiled to the frontier of the Unknown Regions on an exploration trip. The Grand Admiral Thrawn returns from the Unknown Regions to wage war against the fledgling New Republic in Zahn’s “Thrawn trilogy,” first published in 1991. He almost won, but his opponents were more skilled and had more good fortune on their side.
Thrawn Had an Important Role in Star Wars Following the Original Trilogy
The significance of Thrawn to Star Wars in the ’90s cannot be overstated. After the success of the Thrawn trilogy, which became a New York Times best-seller, several other novels were written to continue the story of the post-“Return of the Jedi” era.
Zahn rose to prominence as an E.U. author thanks to his frequent returns to expand on his original characters like the Chiss, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and Mara Jade, a former Imperial asset. Probably, George Lucas wouldn’t have come back to film the prequels if the Expanded Universe books hadn’t brought Star Wars back into the public consciousness. Even the city planet Coruscant is based on ideas from the Thrawn trilogy that Lucas stole.
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Thrawn’s New Origin in the Star Wars Universe
After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, it labeled the Expanded Universe as non-canon (or “Legends”), but Thrawn has been brought back into the main storyline. Star Wars novels have expanded Thrawn’s backstory, with Zahn making a return appearance to provide further context.
According to Zahn, Thrawn first met Anakin Skywalker on an expedition to the furthest reaches of the Unknown Regions during the Clone Wars. Because of the cultural differences between Chiss and the Galactic Empire, Thrawn’s superiors decided to send him on an “exile” which was all in good fun.
Thrawn was not recognized by the Empire until after the Clone Wars, but he quickly won Palpatine over. He rose through the ranks of the Imperial government in a manner fairly dissimilar to that of the ancient European Union, yet he occasionally smuggled supplies and critical allies out to the Chiss.
What Happened To Thrawn On Star Wars Rebels
The Chiss strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn dispatched to deal with the rebel cell on Lothal made an appearance in Star Wars Rebels. He was extremely effective, but, like in Legends, his lack of knowledge of the Force ultimately proved to be his undoing. Ezra Bridger, a young Jedi, linked with Purrgils, which are effectively space whales, and used them to destroy Admiral Thrawn’s fleet and tow his flagship into hyperspace.
During the period covered by the original trilogy, Thrawn went AWOL, and Lothal was successfully liberated from the Empire. Since the Jedi was aboard the vanished flagship with Thrawn, Ezra’s victory constituted an act of noble self-sacrifice. The Mandalorian is now streaming on Disney+.
How Important Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Be For The Future Of Star Wars
Nonetheless, Thrawn seems to be crucial to the continuation of Star Wars. With the introduction of a live-action Ahsoka Tano, Ezra’s companion from the Clone Wars, season 2 of The Mandalorian hinted at an Imperial revival in the galaxy’s Outer Rim (now played by Rosario Dawson).
During a single conversation, Ahsoka let out that she thinks Thrawn is behind the current Imperial upsurge and is coordinating with major Imperial holdouts all around the galaxy. Eman Esfandi, who starred in Red 11, has been cast as the live-action version of Ezra in the upcoming Ahsoka series, which is expected to chronicle Ahsoka’s search for her missing buddy. It means Thrawn himself is on his way, for sure.
Five years after Return of the Jedi, a period initially covered in The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm is striving to weave a cohesive story. The TV programs are expected to tell a retold version of the Thrawn trilogy, but with new protagonists. Instead of Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka will play the role of Jedi Master, while Din Djarin will take the place of Mara Jade. Thus, these schemes would revolve around Grand Admiral Thrawn’s persona.
Is Thrawn Going to Appear in the Mandalorian Season 3?
The subject of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s appearance in Season 3 of The Mandalorian is thus inevitably raised. The summary hinted at “old allies and new enemies,” suggesting that Din Djarin will find the villain behind the Imperial revival. If that’s the case, we may finally get to see Grand Admiral Thrawn in the Star Wars movies. The Grand Admiral’s role in the EU’s triumph in the 1990s was vital, and he is about to rise to prominence again.
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