Grand Admiral Thrawn rejoins the Star Wars universe in Rebels’ 3rd season, new novel

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ThrawnGrand Admiral Thrawn and his brilliant tactical artistry are “Legends” no more.

Confirming a persistent rumor, a trailer for the third season of Star Wars Rebels shown at and livestreamed from Star Wars Celebration Europe in London today revealed that Timothy Zahn’s popular character from the “Expanded Universe” is now back in the canon, and out to bring down the burgeoning Rebellion.

“Let’s just expand the universe, shall we?” executive producer Dave Filoni said before showing the trailer.

Author Timothy Zahn, who created the character of Thrawn for his novel trilogy beginning with Heir to the Empire in 1991, wasn’t present in London but filmed a video in advance thanking fans and Lucasfilm for their dedication to the character.

Zahn was consulted on the character’s use, and also is writing a new Star Wars novel titled simply Thrawn due for release in April 2017.

“You can’t grow up a fan of Star Wars without encountering Grand Admiral Thrawn,” Filoni said after the trailer, which received thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

After Disney bought Lucasfilm, the expansive EU was rebranded as “Legends” and it was made clear that only the films, TV shows, books, games and comics that came after that would be considered Star Wars “canon,” with a Lucasfilm “Story Group” managing continuity. While many small elements have crossed from Legends into the new lore, Thrawn is the first major EU/Legends character to cross over into the new canon.

Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels
Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels

Filoni said Thrawn’s ysalamiri “Force-bubble” creatures from the Zahn novels won’t appear, because living things aren’t removed from the Force in his thinking (thanks, midi-chorians…) and, in response to a fan question whether ex-Emperor’s Hand Mara Jade — another Zahn character, will follow Thrawn into canon, he said “not likely.”

Thrawn will be portrayed by the voice talents of Lars Mikkelsen, the brother of Mads Mikkelsen who has a significant role in December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Tom Baker from Doctor Who will also provide the voice for a new character named Bendu in Rebels. Filoni describes him as “kind of the middle way of the Force. He’s not dark, he’s not light, he’s something else … a different type of Force character/creature than we’ve had before.”

Another character appearing in Rebels: Rebellion hero and X-Wing ace pilot Wedge Antilles, who is seen in the trailer apparently defecting from an Imperial academy.

In other novel news from Star Wars Celebration Europe, author James Luceno — who wrote the popular EU novel Darth Plagueis and the more recent Tarkin, is writing a new movie tie-in called Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel.

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