Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn?
After 2020’s thrillling 2nd Season of The Mandalorian and the phenomenal Final Season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars both streaming on Disney+, fans are excited about what’s next for our favorite corner of a galaxy far, far, away. In Episode 4 of The Mandalorian’s 2nd Season, titled “The Jedi”, not only were we introduced to Rosario Dawson’s live-action iteration of Ahsoka Tano, but a MAJOR name from Star Wars mythology was dropped as well. A name that has potentially massive implications for the future of the franchise. In this episode, Ahsoka revealed that she is hunting Grand Admiral Thrawn himself. While many viewers likely didn’t understand the weight that his name carries, Thrawn is one of the most fascinating and dangerous villains in the Star Wars Universe. With more seasons of The Mandalorian and the recently announced upcoming shows like Ahsoka, Rangers of The New Republic, and The Book of Boba Fett, all coming down the pipe line, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni plan to keep these shows closely interconnected much like The MCU. The plan being that at some point, there will be some big crossover miniseries or movie on Disney+ that will bring all the characters from the various shows together to combat some larger threat.
Grand Admiral Thrawn would be the perfect antagonist to embody that larger threat in a team up project like this. Not only would he poses an existential threat to the galaxy, but he’s also a fantastic character. Thrawn was first introduced in a trilogy of novels written by Timothy Zahn.
The novels told the story of how The Emperor sent Thrawn on a special mission to investigate a strange new threat that took him far beyond the outer rim, for years. He was so far away in fact, that communication between himself and the heart of The Empire was impossible. Thrawn finally returns with a small fleet to find The Rebellion victorious and The Emperor killed after the events of Return of The Jedi. He rallies what’s left of The Empire and with his brilliance and lethal cunning comes damn near close to destroying The New Republic.
From The MCU’S Greatest Hero to The Most Cunning Villain In Star Wars?
Rumor has it, that none other than Robert Downey Jr, old pal of Jon Favreau, is in talks with Disney and Lucasfilm to sign on as the character in upcoming Star Wars projects for Disney+. While it hasn’t been 100% confirmed that Thrawn is the character Downey is meeting with Disney/Lucasfilm and Favreau to discuss, reports have been very clear that the role is not a cameo, it’s a significant part, it would require Downey to wear some sort of prosthetic make up and it would be a departure from the heroic characters he’s been playing over the last 15 years or so.
I think this is fantastic news. Like I mentioned before, Downey is good friends with Jon Favreau, it’s a fantastic role for any actor, and after the unmitigated disaster that was Dolittle, I’m certain Downey is probably looking for a sure thing for his next major project. As an added benefit, I often describe Thrawn as an evil Sherlock Holmes. Considering that Robert Downey Jr. played a pretty damn good Sherlock Holmes in the past, that’s just one more check in the plus column. I really hope this rumor becomes reality. It’s interesting that so many elements from The Star Wars Expanded Universe are being brought into play lately because when Disney bought Lucasfilm they tossed out all of the Star Wars EU stories and filed them under the umbrella of Star Wars “Legends”. Meaning the stories were no longer considered canon. I understand why Disney/Lucasfilm would want to do that at the time, a lot of the EU stories took place after Return of The Jedi. The company wanted to keep the “Post-RoTJ” time period wide open, so they didn’t have any pre-existing stories or characters that would interfere or contradict the direction that they wanted to go in. Which didn’t work out quite as well as we all would’ve hoped, however, I must admit that I absolutely love The Force Awakens.
Thrawn was reintroduced to Star Wars continuity as the main villain facing the fledgling Rebellion in the final 2 seasons of Star Wars: Rebels. An argument could be made that Lars Mikkelsen, who played Thrawn in Rebels, wouldn’t be a bad choice to play the live-action version of the character. So I really like the actor, he played the villain Charles Augustus Magnuson in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Season 3, he also played the wizard Geralt meets in the first season of The Witcher. Personally I think his brother, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Casino Royale, Doctor Strange), would be much better suited to play Thrawn. Unfortunately, he already played a pretty major character in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Galen Erso, the man who was forced to design and build The Death Star. BUT he also put the fatal flaw in the space station’s design that allowed Luke to destroy The Death Star during The Battle of Yavin.
We’ve even seen Thrawn appearance in some excellent comics recently. Disney also owns Marvel Comics, so there of been some fantastic Star Wars graphic novels published, with one miniseries specifically focusing on Thrawn.
With Thrawn already having made his appearance on Star Wars Rebels and now possibly in live action for the first time, as well as Boba Fett officially surviving his trip into The Sarlak Pit (which is also an Expanded Universe concept), it seems that Lucasfilm is getting more comfortable about using EU characters and stories. They seem to be keeping the essence of exactly who these characters are, while changing minor details like when they appear in the mythology. Thrawn debuted on Star Wars Rebels at the height of The Empire’s power, right before the start of The Rebellion. In the EU, he comes into play after Return of The Jedi and the fall of The Empire. So people like Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni seem to be interested in using EU characters, they might just move around where they pop up in the Star Wars timeline and how they fit into mythology, while still respecting the essence of the character. Which begs the question what other EU characters might we see pop-up next? Dash Rendar? Prince Xizor, or a fan favorite character like Mara Jade? My money would be on the latter. Time will tell. Despite the lack luster ending of The Skywalker Saga, it seems like it’s still a pretty good time to be a Star Wars fan!
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