In April 2014, Lucasfilm announced that all the Star Wars books written before that point would be imprinted under the Legends banner, i.e. not be canon anymore. While this wiped the slate clean for the Disney-led Star Wars to create their own, official continuity on the printed page, it also meant that many cool characters who no longer existed. Fortunately, one of those characters is getting a second chance at life, as it's been revealed that Thrawn will be one of the villains featured in Star Wars Rebels Season 3.
The Star Wars Rebels Season 3 trailer debuted as Star Wars Celebration today, and during it, fans got their first look at the new Thrawn. Just like his book counterpart, he is a Chiss who is a tactical genius and strategic master, as evidenced by him saying, "To defeat an enemy, you must know them," be it from their history, philosophy or art. Just like his book counterpart, he will be an Imperial Grand Admiral, and it's his job to eliminate the Rebels protagonists this season. Thrawn will be voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen, who is playing Galen Erso in the upcoming Anthology movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
You can watch the trailer for yourself below to see Thrawn and find out what else is coming in Season 3.
Grand Admiral Thrawn was the main antagonist of the "Thrawn" trilogy books Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, published from 1991 to 1993. Following the deaths of Darth Vader and the Emperor, he led the Empire in the years for several years after Return of the Jedi, practicing a different command style to effectively lead the Imperial forces. A younger version of him appeared in the Outbound Flight prequel book, while a Thrawn clone and a con artist pretending to be him appeared in the "Hand of Thrawn" books.
Thrawn's return to the Star Wars universe in Rebels will undoubtedly please many fans of the books, but it doesn't end there. It was also announced that author Timothy Zahn, Thrawn's original creator, is working on a new book, simply titled Thrawn, set in the new, official Star Wars book continuity. Here's the first look at the cover from Del Rey.
Unfortunately for Legends fans, it looks like Thrawn will be the only character from the previous book continuity who will enjoy a resurrection anytime soon. When asked by a fan whether we might see Mara Jade, one of the Emperor's former operatives and Luke Skywalker's later wife, in Star Wars Rebels, executive producer Dave Filoni said it wasn't likely. Regardless, given Thrawn's years of popularity among book readers, now they can take comfort seeing he's been reincorporated into a galaxy far, far away.
You can see the new Thrawn in action when Star Wars Rebels Season 3 premieres this fall on Disney XD.