Star Wars fans now have seven live-action movies to love, ok maybe four, an argument could be made for 5. But outside of the movies, there has always been the expanded universe comic books, video games and of course, novels to dive deeper into a galaxy far far away. Since Disney purchased Lucasfilm, it has been a bit tricky knowing what expanded universe characters are and are not canon, but now we know that one of the biggest Star Wars villains of all-time, Grand Admiral Thrawn, is indeed part of the new canon.
The news came courtesy of the new Star Wars Rebels season 3 trailer, which was debuted during the Star Wars Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration, which is currently taking place in London. Disney and Lucasfilm didn't make us all wait to be able to see it, as they uploaded it to their YouTube channel shortly after. This was not just some tiny tease of a trailer either, as it was packed with reveals. There is no question that the biggest and most exciting reveal came in the form of a blue, human like figure that hardcore fans would have likely been quick to recognize anyway. Lucasfilm didn't leave it shrouded in mystery. The name Grand Admiral Thrawn was said out loud, and that is a very big deal.
For those who may not know, Thrawn is one of the biggest villains in all of Star Wars history, even though he has never made an appearance in the movies. The character first appeared in the Heir to the Empire book trilogy in the early 90s and was created by author Timothy Zahn. The series of three books that Zahn wrote surrounding the character is credited with reinvigorating fan interest in the franchise at the time. There were no movies or any major Star Wars projects being released at the time, and the compelling story in these books, largely thanks to Thrawn, caught the attention of fans. The trilogy of books has sold more than 15 million copies combined. He should prove to be a massive threat for Kanan and the gang next season.
But more important than his involvement in the Rebels animated series specifically is the fact that the character is now an official part of the new Disney Star Wars canon. when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they decided to abandon all previous expanded universe canon, and started from scratch, releasing new novels, comics and TV shows that would establish the canon moving forward. So that meant Thrawn was, up till now, not part of the new canon. Not only will the character be included in Star Wars Rebels, but Timothy Zahn is writing a new book about the character which is coming out next year. That being the case, Disney is clearly very interested in cementing the character as an important part of Star Wars lore.
The character of Thrawn is a major villain in Star Wars history. In the original Heir to the Empire trilogy, which takes place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Thrawn assumes the command of the remaining Imperial forces and intends to battle the New Republic. Emperor Palpatine had kept Thrawn a secret for many years, but after his death, Thrawn was free to take control and was ruthless, highly intelligent and purely evil. He is a tactical genius and is very different from the likes of Darth Vader or other evil leaders we have seen in Star Wars before. His origins are mysterious, but he is of an alien species known as the Chiss.
We won't have any way of knowing for sure what exactly this means in terms of how it impacts the post Return of the Jedi canon, or how it will be revealed until Star Wars Rebels airs. Fortunately, we won't have to wait that long as season 3 is set to air this fall on Disney XD. You can check out the trailer for Star Wars Rebels season 3 for yourself below, if you haven't already.