How much of a threat is Grand Admiral Thrawn to the Star Wars universe?

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With the imminent live-action arrival of Grand Admiral Thrawn to the Star Wars universe, here’s how much of a threat the character will be.

Heroes are only ever as interesting as the villains they face, with antagonists often being deeper and more interesting characters than their protagonist counterparts. That’s especially true in the Star Wars universe, where the likes of Darth Maul, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine seem to offer endless levels of fascination to fans, despite the often abhorrent nature of the sinister figures.

The same can certainly be said for Grand Admiral Thrawn (otherwise known as Mitth’raw’nuruodo), the brilliant, blue-skinned strategist who made his first appearance in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire novel in 1991. In the book and its two follow-ups, it’s revealed that the character has returned from the mysterious Unknown Regions to rally what’s left of the Imperial forces. A member of the alien Chiss species, Thrawn’s masterplan and tactics were nearly the undoing of the New Republic in the series, until his untimely and last-minute defeat.

The character of Thrawn would go on to appear in more novels and comic books over the years, before making the leap to the small screen in the Season 3 premiere of Star Wars Rebels. Voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, the Grand Admiral proved to be a formidable foe for the crew of The Ghost, before being forcibly banished to the Unknown Regions by Ezra Bridger. However, you just can’t keep a good bad guy down and Thrawn will be back and in his first-ever live-action appearance in the upcoming Ahsoka series, due to debut on Disney+ later this year.

Thrawn will be portrayed in the show by Lars Mikkelsen himself and can be briefly-glimpsed in the Ahsoka trailer that was recently revealed at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023. The first hint of Thrawn’s return came in The Mandalorian Season 2, when Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka revealed she was searching for both Bridger and the Grand Admiral. The character’s name then came up again in Season 3 of the show, with Chapter 23: The Spies featuring a meeting of the Imperial Shadow Council, including Thrawn’s subordinate, Captain Gilad Pellaeon.

The challenge that the New Republic will face when the Grand Admiral makes his long-awaited return should definitely not be underestimated. Thrawn is a tactical genius and a cunning military leader and has been described as one of the most threatening antagonists in the Star Wars universe. He makes an extensive study of an enemy’s capabilities and a culture’s artwork before making his move. Diabolical, brilliant and ruthless, the Grand Admiral nearly brought the New Republic to its knees in the original Thrawn book trilogy, then almost stamped out the emerging Alliance in Star Wars Rebels.

It’s been a long road for the character from the pages of Zahn’s books to Mikkelsen’s soon-to-be-seen live-action portrayal in Ahsoka. There’s never been a Star Wars villain as unique as Grand Admiral Thrawn and the shadow of his return is currently hanging ominously over the entire franchise. In fact, some fans think that the character may ultimately be the main threat in Dave Filoni’s upcoming big screen Star Wars movie, a films that’s said to be the culmination of the storylines in The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Ahsoka.

Only time will tell if that’s the case, but there’s no denying that when Grand Admiral Thrawn does finally reappear, the heroes of the Star Wars galaxy will have to rally together in order to put a stop to the latest menace to peace and stability and potentially pay the ultimate price in order to do so.

Images: Star Wars

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