When Ahsoka premieres later this year, it will be continuing the story told in The Mandalorian and the connected universe, and there will be (among other things) an incredibly important development: the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
He was mentioned in season two of The Mandalorian, and then again in season three as the Imperial remnant leaders await his return. But he’ll make his long-awaited debut in Ahsoka, bringing the character to life in live-action for the first time. He’s been set up to be the one to assume command of these Imperial remnants and gather them together for a fight, and it sounds like that will indeed be the case.
Dave Filoni, who alongside Jon Favreau is overseeing the whole Mandoverse, recently spoke to Empire about these things. Filoni, who is the showrunner on Ahsoka and will also be directing a live-action film tying these stories together, was asked whether he sees Thrawn as the big bad in this era of storytelling. His response was completely unsurprising, but still notable.
Definitely, in my eyes. When Timothy Zahn wrote Heir To The Empire, Thrawn became this very iconic villain, because he was different than anything we’d seen before. He wasn’t another helmet-wearing, lightsaber-wielding bad guy, you know? There’s a lot of pull to make characters that are like Vader, because it is so iconic. But the boldness that Tim had was to make somebody that wasn’t like that, that didn’t have those abilities, but could fight in a different way. In the words ‘Star Wars’, the ‘war’ part of it — him being a Grand Admiral, a leader, a military strategist, a Moriarty archetype, someone that will out-think you, out-strategise you — that really resonated. He’s a critical player in this time period. We’re fortunate to have that character, and fortunate to have Lars [Mikkelsen] playing him.
Again, for those who have been paying attention, this was already assumed to be the case, but it’s always good to hear it confirmed. Filoni doesn’t say whether this means Thrawn will be the main villain of his Star Wars film, but I think it’s quite safe to assume that he will be. His appearance in Ahsoka is only the beginning.
Thrawn was one of twelve Grand Admirals in the Imperial navy (and the only non-human one), the highest individual military rank an officer could attain. As a result, he was in command of the Seventh Fleet, and he was tasked with eradicating a rebel threat posed by the Phoenix Squadron (which saw Hera Syndulla as one of their key leaders). He was nearly successful, but the Jedi Ezra Bridger surprised Thrawn by enlisting Purrgil (space whales) to take the Admiral’s flagship into hyperspace, with Bridger and Thrawn aboard. They disappeared into the unknown regions and weren’t heard from… until now. The search for Ezra is what motivates Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren in this series, and Thrawn won’t be far away.
He is most known, of course, for being the main antagonist of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, which as Filoni noted started with Heir to the Empire. The book released in 1991 and was one of the most influential Star Wars stories ever told – because it was a pivotal step toward fans realizing that there could be more stories after the original trilogy. That book is no longer considered to be canon, but Filoni seems to be leaning on it quite a bit in this time period.
2 thoughts on “Dave Filoni confirms the obvious: Grand Admiral Thrawn is the main villain of The Mandalorian era of Star Wars storytelling”
I’m looking forward to Ahsoka and Thrawn’s return. I’m thrilled Filoni mentions Heir To The Empire. I loved the Thrawn trilogy when it came out. If only the Disney powers had made it into the sequel trilogy that followed Return of the Jedi. While I’m am ok with Force Awakens through to TROS, how good would it have been to have Luke, Mara Jade etc in the thick of it. I guess we will see Thrawn on the big screen in Filoni’s new forthcoming film?
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Yeah my guess is that they’ll bring elements of Heir to the Empire into this era of storytelling. Probably won’t mean Mara Jade or anything, but I think we might get a version of the Thrawn story that fits in-between the original and sequel trilogies. That gets me excited!
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