Chewie-ing It Over: Feeling Blue
Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 has come and gone, news was made, fun was had and now many fans are feeling blue because the biggest news of the convention was the resurrection of Mitth’raw’nuruodo, more commonly known as Grand Admiral Thrawn.
We got two huge Thrawn bombshells in the Star Wars Rebels Season Three panel. First, Thrawn will be appearing in season three of Star Wars Rebels. Secondly, Thrawn is making his canon novel debut in Star Wars: Thrawn by legendary Expanded Universe author Timothy Zahn on sale April 2017.
The revelation of Thrawn being reintegrated into Star Wars canon has been rumored on this site and subsequently teased by Dave Filoni in May.
— Dave Filoni (@dave_filoni) May 28, 2016
Given Filoni’s tease it was easy to figure out what he was referring to because Heir to the Empire has a distinctive book spine, but we didn’t know for sure until Saturday that Thrawn coming to Star Wars Rebels was a reality.
It is interesting to reflect back on the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, the change of the Expanded Universe to Legends and the building of a whole new canon.
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney CEO Bob Iger said;
Star Wars in particular is a strong global brand, and one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with hundreds of millions of fans around the globe. Its universe of more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years offers infinite inspiration and opportunities – and we’re already moving forward with plans to continue the epic Star Wars saga.
“Infinite inspiration and opportunities.” The fact is that some characters in Legends will never have their stories continued or retold. But a select few characters may be resurrected in the new canon, and a new tale told about their exploits.
Thrawn seems like an obvious character to bring into the canon. He is an extremely popular character, he is a very good villain (which can be hard to accomplish), his Legends story was thoroughly and completely explored, he allows for interesting storytelling possibilities, and he may bring even more fans to Star Wars Rebels.
I will grant you that not every fan knows who Thrawn is. This could be particularly true for younger fans or fans that never picked up the books during those dark times between films. Among the fans that read Timothy Zahn’s novels he is almost universally loved. He was evil space Sherlock, a character whose power came from his intellect and his ability to see the game 3 moves ahead. He was an outsider who thrived within an Imperial power structure that was naturally hostile to him because he was an alien. He rose to the ultimate heights because of his abilities, not because of his family or who he knew. He was a villain that often didn’t seem evil as much as ruthless in pursuing what he felt were noble goals. He was a man who sacrificed his position and family with the Chiss to do what was right and protect his people. He was a leader who inspired devotion and brought out the best in his subordinates.
In many ways there are similarities between what Thrawn was attempting to rebuild in the Legends stories and what the First Order is. A new and “better” Empire rising from the ashes of the old.
One of the reasons that Thrawn is a character that I fully support bringing into the new canon is that we had closure for his character in Legends. Thrawn’s story was complete, he was gone, even his clone was gone. So by resurrecting him we have a chance to explore this character with full knowledge of the canon, full knowledge of the Prequel era that Zahn did not have the benefit of.
Thrawn is coming to both to Star Wars Rebels in the fall and to Del Rey’s book line in 2017. This is cool because it further strengthens the story telling cross-pollination that is going on between animation and publishing. It will be interesting to see if Zahn’s book (which he just finished a first draft of) is a prequel to his appearance in Rebels, includes that appearance or is set after Rebels.
In terms of Star Wars Rebels, he bring another level of seriousness to a villain in the show, a villain that is not in the films and thus whose fate is not known. This allows the producers of Rebels to potentially move Tarkin away from the series as his focus shifts towards the Death Star. This allows the producers of Rebels to move Vader away from our characters before he slaughters everyone.
It may also boost viewership of the show by attracting some older fans who may be holdouts to the series. For fans like myself who found season two as a bit of a disappointment except for the book ends and a few episodes in between, it has me very much re-energized and excited about the series going forward.
If you love the Legends stories than you most of all should love this move. If it leads an entire new generation of young fans to seek out an explore Legends books to see stories about this new character that they may first meet through the tv show, that means those books may stay in print longer. It means Thrawn may be the gateway drug for these fans into Legends. If enough of these fans fall in love with those stories, then maybe, just maybe somewhere down the road we could get some more Legends stories told. At the very least it likely means we see Legends stories adapted or more characters brought into the canon.
So today I am feeling blue, and that is great.
The Bright Center of the Universe: This Week on StarWars.com:
There was a lot of news this week on the official site from Star Wars Celebration Europe. Here are a few of my favorite stories:
To catch up on what you missed at SWCE check out the Star Wars Youtube channel’s SWCE 2016 playlist.
Wild Space: This Week on MakingStarWars.net:
This week on MSW we had some cool news stories as well as the latest releases of the MSW Podcast Network. I want to note that Corey (@Corey_WolfPack) was doing some serious work posting stories this week, so instead of linking to all 1,000 of his posts, click here.
Articles: My favorite MSW articles this week:
SAL’S STAR WARS REBELS SEASON 3 TRAILER THOUGHTS by Sal Perales
FROM ABC: EXTENDED ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY SIZZLE REEL by Amanda Ward
To the future, to the horizon:
Look out for news coming from San Diego Comic-con (SDCC) which is happening from Wendsdeay through Sunday this week. While there is no big Star Wars Hall H panel this year, we may still get a little bit of Star Wars news out of Star Wars day on Friday. There are four main Star Wars panels occurring in Room 7AB:
In addition to SDCC we are getting the latest episode of LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, “Race on Tatooine.” In publishing we see the release of Marvel’s Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin trade paperback and Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume 1 hardcover, collecting the first twelve issues.