It’s been out with old, in with the new for Star Wars concerning the beloved EU (Expanded Universe – for those unfamiliar with the abbreviation). The myriad comics, novels, and games that filled in the gaps of the cinematic saga and took the story into new territory were resigned to “Legends” status when Disney bought the mega franchise from Lucas. So, in short, these stories still exist, but they’re not canon. They don’t “count,” though their characters and plot lines are ripe for the pickings for the new film makers.
One of, if not the most popular character from the EU was Grand Admiral Thrawn, the genius military tactician who served as the chief antagonist in the Thrawn Trilogy written by Timothy Zahn in the early 90’s. This highly entertaining set of novels essentially did what episode 7 did – continue the story after Return of the Jedi, albeit taking place only 5 years after the Battle of Endor. These books are often given credit for reigniting interest and holding the torch for Star Wars in the dark times between the original and prequel trilogies, when it looked like we’d get no more movies. Thrawn was a fascinating, ruthless character, and proved more than a match for Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, who were struggling to maintain control over the galaxy after the destruction of the Emperor.
Now it’s been announced that Thrawn is to make a return in season 3 of Rebels. It’s a bold and exciting claim. Thrawn could serve as a bridge between many elements of the EU and the new canon, proving that Disney is not completely disregarding all the material that kept millions enthralled. It’ll be interesting to see just how Thrawn is utilized, as he served a similar role to what Snoke appears to hold in episode 7, as leader of the remnants of the Empire.
Like Grand Moff Tarkin before him, Grand Admiral Thrawn was a brilliant tactician – who, following the Emperor’s defeat in Return of the Jedi, took command of the Empire, managing to out-think and out-maneuver the Rebel Alliance on numerous occasions. Under Thrawn’s rule, Imperial forces regained a foothold in their war with the Rebellion – reacquiring resources, establishing a new chain of command, and striking critical blows against key Rebel installations.
Thrawn should pose quite a challenge for our heroes of The Ghost starship in Rebels, especially as the show seems to be gaining in tension. After introducing the likes of Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and now Thrawn, there’s no telling where future characters will come from. Star Wars is wide open, I can’t wait to see what influence Thrawn will have on the saga…